Managing Youth High-Risk Activities

Minister to youth without taking unnecessary risks

Ministering to today's youth often involves a good deal of high adventure and high risk. Such activities as skiing, rappelling, rock climbing, or white-water rafting can draw young people to your church or ministry. But they quickly can result in serious injury or death if not carefully managed.

Youth Activity Precautions

  • Enlist the services of an experienced vendor who specializes in sponsoring and supervising the specific high-risk activity you've chosen.
  • Require that parents or guardians of youth participants sign an activity participation agreement. This document acknowledges the risk and is a legal promise to hold you harmless, indemnify, and defend you for injury resulting from participation in the activity. 
  • Recruit an adequate number of experienced event supervisors. Normal supervisor-to-participant ratios may not be adequate when engaging in high-risk activities.
  • Document whether the participants are covered by family medical or health insurance.

Transportation Awareness

You can best manage the risk of vehicular accidents by using a charter bus service. While the cost may be higher than if you use your own or borrowed vehicles, the charter line's larger, safer vehicles and experienced drivers will greatly reduce the likelihood of an accident.

Here are some other factors to keep in mind:

  • Choose an established charter company that owns modern, well-maintained equipment.
  • Verify that the charter line is insured by asking for a certificate of insurance from its insurance company.
  • Never sign an agreement with a charter bus line that has wording making you responsible for injuries that trip participants sustain while riding in a charter vehicle driven by a charter operator.
  • If you must use ministry-owned or borrowed vehicles, make sure they are in excellent mechanical condition and that they are operated by experienced, responsible drivers.

Definition of Negligence

The legal concept of negligence is difficult for uninsured participants to understand when they're faced with medical bills. They may believe that if their injury occurred during an activity sponsored by your ministry, then you are responsible for their medical expenses. This is not the legal basis for responsibility.

If you do everything a reasonable and prudent person can to protect participants, you should not be held liable for their financial expenses. The acknowledgment of risk and legal promise to hold you harmless reinforces the fact that participants and their families must accept the risk inherent in high-adventure activities.

Download our Youth Activities Checklist >>