Leader skills: Risk Assessments

This will be the 4th year that our Guide unit has done a joint campfire with another Guide unit. I came from a very traditional Guide unit, and the Guide unit where I started my warrant training was run by the person in our county who basically ran all the bookings for the campsites. Sadly though, our super close, very handy, holds so many memories for me, Guide campsite had to close last year.

This meant finding a new venue for our annual end of year campfire. And that meant a new risk assessment.

When organising any kind of trip, planning is key. And hopefully you’ll be able to do a site visit first. Which is what our Unit Leader and I did a few weeks ago. If you look closely in the photo, you’ll be able to see that when we arrived at this campsite it started SNOWING.

Ahh. Don’t you love Scotland in the springtime?!

The visit was important as if we hadn’t gone, we wouldn’t be going into our trip knowing certain things may be an issue. Our old campsite was easily accessible with cars being able to pass each other with ease. We did have a very rickety bridge to cross to the campfire site, needed to know where to collect water and had to bring all our own fire making materials. This campsite is accessed by a single track road, a very cramped and poorly designed car park (which will likely make 56 Guides & Young Leaders being dropped off a nightmare). The toilets are much nicer but quite a distance from the campfire site. We don’t have to bring our own materials and everything will be provided for us by the venue.

And this is where risk assessments come in. You look at the venue, what you will be doing and assess what potential problems will arise. Then you can come up with a plan on how you would deal with them if they DO arise. Hopefully it means that if they do happen – you will be able to stay calm in the knowledge that you have prepared for such an eventuality and do what is needed. Otherwise you might find yourself in a situation of panic.

At our campfire we’ll have a proper site which makes fire safety very manageable. We’ll have water and sand if the fire needs to be put out. We will have leaders in hi-vis jackets monitoring traffic coming in/out of the campsite. We  have several people trained in first aid in case someone trips up while playing rounders or burns their fingers on a marshmallow. The girls have all been instructed to make sure they have their hair tied back to keep it safe from flames while toasting marshmallows. We have food that girls can eat because we know what their dietary requirements are. We have asked parents and leaders to car share as much as possible to ease the flow of traffic at pick up and drop off. We will have a home contact who can be the port of call in an emergency situation.

I’m now training my Senior Section girls (especially as they are getting older and some of them are starting their own Leadership Qualifications) in how to access the Girlguiding manual, and how to risk assess activities outside of the meeting place. Although it got a bit silly and at first they thought it was stupid, as a member shared about something that had happened while on a trip with her Guide unit she volunteers with, the point of risk assessments became more clear.

Because it’s always ‘fine’ until it’s not! And when you do all the ‘silly’ stuff required – consent forms, emergency contacts, alerting your commissioner that you are going on a trip, risk assessments, site visits – it isn’t silly if something does happen because you are prepared. 🙂

Risk Assessment Template 2016



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