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Managing risk in the future.

Managing Risk in the Future

In keeping with tiffs issue's theme of preparing for the future, I was asked to gaze into my crystal ball, the one I keep near my desk in Richmond, Virginia, and identify some future issues affecting risk management.

As I thought things over, the first realization I had is that risk management is both a science and an art. It is a science to those who gather, analyze and interpret statistics. It is an art to those camps and conference center directors who use their experience and common sense as they design and manage programs and facilities. "It just doesn't feel right" is as valid a reason for avoiding risk as is the statistical probability that a certain event will occur.

My crystal ball is cloudy. But it is clear enough to see that the science of risk management in the future will be enhanced significantly by the development of new risk management information systems. These developments will be in both hardware and software. They will expand our capacity to capture and analyze information for each unique situation at camp. The payoff is that these systems will enable directors to obtain quicker feedback on the number and type of incidents occurring in various parts of camp, and during certain activity periods throughout the summer. This technology will provide new opportunity to manage risk.

Today, the risk management process is mostly manual. In the future, systems will be automated and integrated. It is conceivable that camps will be able to communicate electronically with their insurance companies. Some agents and companies may permit on-line reporting of claims, access to their loss experience information, and systems enabling camps to determine the status of open claims, all over dedicated telephone lines or cable television connections.

Electronic mail may be part of this new communication and risk management system, too. Interactive systems could make information on safety and risk management available from insurance companies through computer databases or cd-rom libraries. Not only will the latest information be instantly available but the service will add to the value of relationships between them.

The new technology impacting the process and science of risk management is here already. With the development of Apple's hand-held Newton Computer, the technology exists for handwritten notations to be stored and then down loaded into a personal computer at a later date. It is very likely that this technology, as it becomes more available and affordable, will be applied to the risk management process.

The art of risk management will be enhanced in the future too. When I began working with camp directors seventeen years ago, the concept of risk management was not widely recognized or discussed.

Over the years, through the efforts of ACA, many educators, camp directors, insurance people and a host of other interested parties, risk management has become widely recognized as an important discipline for organized camping.

Expect development of new training tools, better information sources and more joint effort from the business community focused on improving the knowledge and ability of directors and their staff to manage risk.

One recent cooperative effort was the boating study conducted by ACA with resources and information provided through the Coast Guard, ACA members, and the ACA Insurance Program. Another example was the 1993 Risk Management Forum jointly sponsored by ACA and Markel Rhulen.

Another program influencing and improving the art of risk management is ACA's professional certification program.

There will be many challenges ahead that will stretch our ability to manage risks effectively. Some challenges will be older problems that will demand continuing attention. From my perspective, some of these continuing challenges will include:

* A proliferation of regulations from various local, state, and federal agencies making compliance more difficult. Who coordinates conflicts between them? How do we learn about their requirements? To which standard(s) will camps be held accountable?

* Increasing camper-parent expectations about safety and security as our society continues its confrontation with random violence and irrational behavior. Security is an issue. But, at what price? And at what point does the preoccupation with this issue detract from the camp experience itself? How will we manage this?

* New training challenges as our society changes. How can we train young people in the future to be productive employees? Will we continue to use foreign counselors? How will we manage ethnic diversity in the future?

* Many camp sites experiencing encroachment of expanding communities. Camp facilities once isolated from the hustle and hustle of daily life now must deal with all its implications. What unique risk develops from this problem, and how should directors respond?

This list of issues is certainly not definitive. There are many other challenges ahead.

One certainty underlying any attempt to look at the future is the process of change and growth. It's been my personal experience that change is a healthy process, not to be feared but embraced. When one confronts the uncertainty of the future with knowledge and experience, and guidelines for thinking and acting, the process of changing and growing is friendlier.

The principles of risk management provide camp directors with a road map to follow down the path of growth and change. And although the challenges loom large ahead and the road is full of obstacles, I'm confident camp professionals will find the fight way to deal with each new challenge.

Ed Schirick is senior vice president of the Markel Rhulen Underwriters and Brokers camp and youth recreation division. He is a charted property casualty underwriter and a certified insurance counselor. Send your risk management inquiries to: Ed Schirick, c/o Markel Rhulen Underwriters and Brokers, 4600 Cox Road, Glen Allen, VA 23058.
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Title Annotation:Risk Management; youth camps
Author:Schirick, Ed
Publication:Camping Magazine
Article Type:Column
Date:Mar 1, 1994
Previous Article:Adapting to 21st century camp consumers.
Next Article:The traditional camp: out of touch, out of time.

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