There is a temptation to say that our programs are completely safe. However, that statement would be misleading. Nobody can guarantee safety, and attempting to do so would strip the experience of the very elements that make it engaging and worthwhile.
Learning to manage risk requires real risk. It is this "edge" where great learning occurs. If we develop the ability to take calculated risk, it has positive affects on our work, wellbeing, social interactions, and our growth. Traversing hazardous situations that push our faculties is the stuff of great people, communities, and countries. It makes us strong and intellectually sharp, builds camaraderie, and develops self-confidence. There is nothing reckless about Mountains for Growth programs, yet we continually step into risk filled situations to facilitate personal development.
Mountains for Growth’s safety management plan emphasizes personal responsibility. Under instruction and guidance, participants are accountable for their own safety and the safety of others in the group. That said, many of the environments we travel in may be new to participants. Mountains For Growth guides draw from significant experience to teach participants to read hazards in these environments. It is the participants’ responsibility to maintain the instructed safety standards throughout the program. Participants are also encouraged to call attention to anything they perceive as unsafe (no matter who it involves), and learn from the situation. Owning our journey is the only way we can possibly grow and develop as individuals.
Curriculum: The curriculum for the program is critical for managing safety. People can do amazing things safely with a good curriculum. Mountains for Growth has developed high standards for site management and program curriculum, and is able to teach to those standards on each program. (See attached)
Technology: Mountains For Growth programs use technology to manage safety. All of our equipment is maintained to the highest standards. Ropes, harnesses, helmets, and other equipment are inspected each outing and dated and retired per manufacturer specifications. Communication devices and first aid equipment are carried on every program. However, rather then depending on technology to keep us safe, we use it to enhance the good work we are doing. Tools are no replacement for good judgement and decision-making. Taking personal responsibility for ourselves is our best tool for managing safety.
Emergency Call Guide: We carry an emergency call guide with current emergency numbers and resources specific to our area on every program to facilitate a timely response in case of an emergency.
There are three areas Mountains For Growth risk management efforts emphasize: Self, Group, and Environment.
Self: Managing ourselves is perhaps the greatest duty. Taking physical care of ourselves is a big responsibility and a good discipline to develop self-respect. When we are well cared for we make better decisions.
Developing self-knowledge is also an important management tool. Knowing "why" we do something is as important as doing it; understanding our motivations is the most powerful lesson both from managing safety and self-knowledge. Personal intuition is also a tool we use to full benefit.
Group: Keeping an eye on the group is essential for the development of compassion and gratitude--compassion for others and gratitude for being watched out for. Being part of a group can be beneficial, but it can also lead to a false sense of security. Knowing how to keep the group working for safety is the key.
Environment: Developing knowledge and awareness of the environment and the inherent risk is like playing a life size game of chess. Calculating a "move" requires collected community wisdom and personal observation. Wisdom is what others have learned and documented about the environment, and observation is what we witness in the moment. If accidents have happened in the past, it does not mean that the activity is a bad idea, but our knowledge of it may be too limited. Typically poor curriculum is the problem. Collecting and gathering information is a stimulating challenge that helps manage safety.