Hima Mal started her session on Safety in Outdoor Classroom Learning by narrating the rescue operation of the 12 Thai boys of a football team who had got stuck in a cave with their coach. This was a case of a school excursion trip going wrong. She observed that such mishaps can be prevented if proper planning and risk assessment are practiced.
She also noted that there has been a sharp rise in inquiries pertaining to safety measures to be adopted by school authorities during domestic and international trips. Since outdoor classroom learning is gaining popularity, it is important to change its perception as an aid to indoor classroom learning and to integrate such programs within the curriculum.
Mal stated that the two equally important concerns with such programs are education and safety. It is important that there is a review process for the educators and mentors with parameters like presentations, review boards, and making sure that the evidence of learning is held accountable. While the wards spend leisurely time outdoors, their guardians and school authorities are concerned about their wards' safety. By citing the example of a group of students stranded at a hurricane-struck area in New York, she underlined the importance of carefully selecting the travel partner for outdoor trips. During that incident, EdTerra ensured that each and every student that it was accountable for was returned home safely. She stressed upon the "skills, means and intent" of the organisation to address the crisis in a timely manner, thereby ensuring the safety of its clients.
In conclusion, she outlined some key competence areas of organisations conducting outdoor classroom learning such as expertise with working with students, execution that maximizes learning, rigorous safety standards within the program and recruitment of educators that have the skill-set required for outdoor education programs for student travel whose roles, rules and procedures are defined.
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