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  • Jeff Baierlein

Viristar Releases Four-Week Outdoor Safety Courses Through June

Over the years, Viristar has offered two-day in-person intensive courses on outdoor safety, and three-day online-only trainings. Now, Viristar has opened what may become the organization’s—and the outdoor industry’s—flagship course, a four-week, forty-hour training class on risk management for outdoor and experiential programs.

A Bit of History

One of the first outdoor safety trainings offered by Viristar’s Director, Jeff Baierlein, was a half-day workshop in 2008 at the newly formed Outward Bound Taiwan. A blend of lecture, Q&A, and seminar-style discussion for the entire OBT community, it was clear the event was a good start, but more time was needed to cover the material.

Some time later, Viristar debuted its intensive sixteen-hour course, held over two days. This allowed for covering more information in more detail. But participants wanted even more time to explore the theory and apply the concepts to the practices of their own outdoor programs.

The course expanded to 32 hours, held online, over three weeks. This model has a mix of four seminar-style discussion periods by video-conference, and weeks of independent study and small-group projects. Finally, there’s time to cover all the major concepts in risk management for experiential, wilderness, travel-based, outdoor and adventure programs.

But the workload is intense for those with busy personal and professional lives. So a week was added to the course to allow more time to cover the curriculum, while still maintaining a good life balance with other responsibilities.

The Pinnacle of Evolution—So Far

Now, starting in March, Viristar’s acclaimed Risk Management for Outdoor Programs course unfolds over four weeks. The training is broken into week-long study periods, each with its own theme. At the end of each week, the group comes together for a 90-minute Zoom call to discuss what they’ve learned, and how it applies to their professional context.

The new four-week syllabus looks like this:

Four-Week Syllabus

Week 1

General Concepts

Introductory Concepts in Risk Management

Approaches to Risk Management: Risk Domains

Approaches to Risk Management: Instruments, Plans

Approaches to Risk Management: Risk Assessments, Safety Thinking



Risk Domains

Introductory Principles

Safety Culture

Week 2

Human Factors in Incident Causation

Case Study: Ski Trip

Provider Selection

Week 3

Risk Management Instruments

Incident Reporting

Systems Thinking

Case Study: Mangatepopo Gorge Incident

Incident Management

Emergency Response Scenario

Media Relations

Case Study: Media Relations


COVID-19 Risk Management: Principles, Practices & Response

Week 4


Risk Management Planning

Strategic Improvement Plan

Final Exam

(Download the unabridged syllabus here.)

Impressions from Participants

The four-week course builds off of, and improves upon, the well-received three-week version. One participant from a three-week course completed in late January had this to say:

Another participant commented:

And Nick Sloane, a Scouting leader in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, noted:

Courses Opened for March, April, May and June

Following a three-week course in February, Viristar rolls out the four-week option starting in March. Course dates currently on the schedule are:

  • Saturday, March 6 to Saturday, April 3, 2021

  • Sunday, March 7 to Sunday, April 4, 2021

  • Wednesday, April 7 to Wednesday, May 5, 2021

  • Saturday, May 1 to Saturday, May 29, 2021

  • Wednesday, June 2 to Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Course start dates and times vary depending on the time zone of the participant. A full course schedule is available at

More Information & Enrollment

For additional details, including access to the detailed syllabus, course textbook details, and the full schedule, go to

See you on course!


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