Risk Management

for Outdoor Programs


Three-week Online Training Course

For travel, experiential, wilderness, adventure and

outdoor programs


  • Gain critical knowledge of best practices in outdoor program risk management

  • Learn procedures, systems and plans essential to meeting key outdoor safety standards

  • Understand how to apply successful risk management strategies to adventure programs, experiential education, wilderness expeditions, and outdoor trips


Valuable for

Program Coordinators/Managers, Risk Management officers, Risk Management/Safety Committee members, members of Boards of Directors, executive leadership.

Course Format

The course is composed of four live video-conference sessions and three independent work periods:


1. Live sessions. Four live, video-conference sessions, one hour long, occurring the same day and time each week, for four consecutive weeks.  These include structured real-time small-group and large-group discussions and participant project presentations.

2. Independent work. Between live video-conferences, there are three week-long independent work periods for individual and remote small-group activity. This work includes:

  • Review of pre-recorded slide presentations with presenter video

  • Completion of readings

  • Participation in online discussion forums

  • Participation in interactive video-based decision-making activities

  • Completion of writing assignments (including writing risk management plan outline and strategic improvement plan content)

  • Peer review of select classmate writing content

  • Completion of organizational self-assessment of risk management

  • Completion of online worksheets

  • Participation in online risk decision-making role-playing scenario

  • Structured analysis of case-study examples

  • Completion of quizzes and final exam


Independent work is anticipated to take a minimum of 7-12 hours per week. The course is rigorous and intensive. 

Course Timing

When you select your course, choose the timing of the live sessions that works best for you and the time zone where you are. Live sessions can be attended either at a time convenient for participants in the Americas & Europe (11 am – noon New York time, UTC-5) or Asia-Pacific (11 am – noon Singapore/Beijing time, UTC+8).


Jeff Baierlein, Director, Viristar; past Executive Director at Outward Bound USA




USD $259 individual enrollment.

USD $225 per person for groups of 5 or more.

Course fee includes four live sessions, materials for independent work sessions, lifetime access to an electronic, online-based copy of the course textbook Risk Management for Outdoor Programs: A Guide to Safety in Outdoor Education, Recreation and Adventure, and certification.


Live Session 1

Welcome, Orientation, Introductory Concepts in Risk Management


Independent Work 1

General Concepts in Risk Management

  • Approaches to Risk Management

  • Standards

  • Laws


Risk Domains

  • Organizational Culture

  • Activities and Program Areas

  • Staff

  • Equipment

  • Participants

  • Subcontractors

  • Transportation

  • Business Administration       


Live Session 2

Facilitated Discussion

Participant Presentations: Self-Evaluation of Risk Management in Risk Management Domains


Independent Work 2

Risk Management Instruments

  • Risk Transfer

  • Incident Management

  • Incident Reporting

  • Incident Reviews

  • Risk Management Committee

  • Medical Screening

  • Risk Management Reviews

  • Media Relations

  • Documentation

  • Accreditation

  • Systems Thinking


Special Topic: COVID-19 Management


Live Session 3

Facilitated Discussion

Participant Presentations: Self-Evaluation of Risk Management with Risk Management Instruments and COVID-19

Risk Decisions Role Play: Introduction


Independent Work 3

Synthesis & Application

  • Risk Management Plan Development

  • Strategic Improvement Plan for Your Organization

  • Risk Decisions Role Play: Preparation


Final Exam


Live Session 4

Facilitated Discussion

Participant Presentation: Strategic Improvement Plan for Your Organization

Risk Decisions Role Play

Conclusion & Certificates

Download a PDF version of the syllabus here.



The course textbook is Risk Management for Outdoor Programs: A Guide to Safety in Outdoor Education, Recreation and Adventure (viristar.com/book). This 218-page text is provided to each student in electronic online-based format.


Participants take four short quizzes throughout the course and a final written exam. Individuals who fully participate in learning activities and successfully complete the final exam receive a certificate from Viristar valid for three years.

Previous Participants Say:

  • “Viristar delivered a high quality training and I would recommend it to any outdoor program.”  Si Dilks, ChinaClimb

  • “Extremely useful, important and informative course…very enjoyable and worthwhile.” Kelvin Fawcett, Nord Anglia International School

  • “Great insight into risk management—took a lot away to implement back at my workplace. Very well run.  Great course!” Liam Warren, Harrow International School

Dates and Registration

Select your desired course dates from the list of available courses now! 

The Risk Management for Outdoor Programs course is a must for all outdoor recreation executives and leadership.

Chris Boyer, Executive Director,

National Association for Search and Rescue

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