Standards for private organizations

2020 Edition

Wilderness and Adventure-Based Therapeutic Outdoor Services (WT) 15: Care and Supervision

Youth are closely supervised, and group size is adjusted to promote safety and limit liability and risk.
2020 Edition




Youth who participate in Wilderness and Adventure-based Therapeutic Outdoor Services expand individual capabilities, develop self-confidence and insight, ameliorate symptoms, and improve interpersonal skills and relationships.
All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, as indicated by full implementation of the practices outlined in the Practice Standards.
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality; or
  • Procedures need strengthening; or
  • With few exceptions, procedures are understood by staff and are being used; or
  • For the most part, established timeframes are met; or
  • Proper documentation is the norm and any issues with individual staff members are being addressed through performance evaluations and training; or
  • Active client participation occurs to a considerable extent.
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards. Service quality or program functioning may be compromised; e.g.,
  • Procedures and/or case record documentation need significant strengthening; or
  • Procedures are not well-understood or used appropriately; or
  • Timeframes are often missed; or
  • Several client records are missing important information; or
  • Client participation is inconsistent. 
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • No written procedures, or procedures are clearly inadequate or not being used; or 
  • Documentation is routinely incomplete and/or missing.      
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Procedures for establishing and adjusting personnel/youth ratios and group sizes
  • Procedures for staffing activities
  • Procedures that address solo activities
  • Coverage schedules for a recent six month period that includes personnel/youth ratios and group sizes
  • Samples of coverage and supervision plans for off-site groups in the previous six months
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Youth or families served

Fundamental Practice

WT 15.01

Group size and personnel to youth ratios are adjusted according to:
  1. the nature of the activity;
  2. the level of the activity’s difficulty, risk, and distance from the organization’s central location;
  3. the skill and experience of personnel; and
  4. the ages, abilities, developmental level, and therapeutic needs of the group.

Fundamental Practice

WT 15.02

Adventure-based group activities are supervised by:
  1. at least two group leaders or instructors; and
  2. additional personnel when known risks are present.

Fundamental Practice

WT 15.03

For solo activities, a group leader or instructor:
  1. is responsible for the safety of that youth or group;
  2. maintains sight or sound contact 24 hours a day, or has a plan for making contact in the event of urgent or emergent situations; and
  3. adjusts the degree of supervision to the youth’s ability, the terrain, and environmental conditions.
NA The organization does not conduct solo activities.

Fundamental Practice

WT 15.04

A coverage and supervision plan is developed for off-site groups that:
  1. indicates the reporting relationships and delegation of authority; and
  2. gives decision-making authority to a person qualified by a combination of education, field experience, technical and safety expertise, and maturity.