Using the seven environmental sources of risk to evaluate your program

Risk management

Whether you are a new startup program or a longstanding one, understanding the exposures a camp faces each year is critical for any camp risk management program and staff training. Risks are constantly changing. Some may remain consistent over the years, others may change yearly and/or daily depending on their nature. While there are many ways to evaluate risks, Managing Business Risk – An Organization-Wide Approach to Risk Management offers seven environmental sources of risk to evaluate.

  1. Physical environment

    Geological and climatic risks arise from the physical environment. (Examples of physical environmental source of risk include wildfires, floods, snowfall, temperature and drought.)

  2. Social environment

    Consumers' changing tastes and preferences, morals/values, as well as demographic factors, can all give rise to risks. (Examples of social environmental sources of risk may involve a camp changing its targeted clientele from an all-boys camp to a boys and girls camp program to increase revenue.)

  3. Political environment

    Political institutions and decisions create responsibilities, interests, and expectations that produce risk. (i.e. certifying organizations may set strict standards and expectations that need attention and compliance)

  4. Legal environment

    The formalized legal system establishes rights and duties that create risk for organizations. (A prime example of a legal environment source of risk involves the recent change of statute of limitations in many states allowing victims of sexual assault to file claims many years later.)

  5. Economic environment

    While often influenced by the political, social, and legal environments, the global economic system has a degree of independence that warrants separate analysis. (An example of economic environment source of risk might be the hiring of international staff.  Understanding their different cultures and beliefs can help support a positive camp experience for all.)

  6. Operational environment

    The manner in which an organization goes about its work gives rise to a wide range of risks, most of which are influenced by the other environments. (Quick examples here may involve whether your program is seasonal versus year-round; or a day program versus residential overnight.)

  7. Cognitive environment

    The environment of the mind -- a manager’s knowledge may be influenced by absence of information, attitude toward risk, misinformation, or even mental limitations, which can rise to both risk and uncertainty. (There could be a lot of fun had discussing examples for cognitive environment sources of risk, but let’s just stick with camp experience. The longer you have been involved as a camp director or owner, the more knowledge you may have to address emerging risks.)

As you think through your 2020 program activities, marketing strategies, hiring of staff, etc., take time to reflect on these environmental sources of risk. Do you have controls in place to address the exposures associated with each source? Being able to identify risk ahead of time and taking actions to reduce their impact will help guarantee you the opportunity to facilitate a positive camp experience this year. Have fun!

Risk management

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