SUWS of the Carolinas and the WRMC

By Anna Wiser

Jul 29, 2015

SUWS blog picWith the 22nd annual Wilderness Risk Management Conference (WRMC) fast approaching in Portland, Oregon, October 14-16, 2015, we are excited to continue highlighting organizations that attend the conference year after year and contribute to its success.


SUWS of the Carolinas Photo courtesy of SUWS of the Carolina


We caught up with Rebecca Rockwell, Special Projects coordinator at SUWS of the Carolinas, and discussed the impact the WRMC has had on SUWS and how it has helped them improve their risk management practices and student experiences.

SUWS of the Carolinas is a wilderness therapy company that works with 10- to 17-year-old boys and girls from all over the world. SUWS students, many of whom have never camped or backpacked before, work on overcoming behavioral issues including substance abuse, trauma, depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, and family conflict.

Rockwell says of their outdoor experiences:

“It is a totally new experience. By taking them backpacking in the Pisgah National Forest we are taking them away from distractions that they have at home (cell phones, T.V., the internet, etc.). They do not have watches or know the time. All of these things help them focus on the present and the here and now. Because they are not distracted they are able to focus on their own needs and what they need to accomplish at SUWS in order to graduate from the program and live a healthier lifestyle. I have always thought that the best place to heal and grow is in nature. Students are able to do this when they are in the woods.”

"I have always thought that the best place to heal and grow is in nature."


SUWS of the Carolinas blog pic Photo courtesy of SUWS of the Carolinas


Employees from SUWS of the Carolinas attend the WRMC because it gives them the opportunity to gain knowledge from the presentations as well as network and share their stories with other outdoor professionals.

Rockwell emphasized that, “physical safety is by far the number one priority at SUWS.” She goes on to say that the risk management presentations at the conference are pertinent to the SUWS staff: “The better our staff are trained, the better we are able to provide excellent services to our students.”

When asked how attending the WRMC has strengthened her organization, Rockwell stated:

“Every time I have gotten back from the WRMC I am excited about risk management. Risk management is something that SUWS focuses on daily but it is not always exciting to me. The WRMC ignites that excitement. I feel like I am able to provide staff with better trainings after attending the WRMC. Also, I always appreciate the case studies and lessons learned. I feel like learning from other programs is always helpful. It lets staff realize that we all make mistakes and are not perfect. But if we share these stories with others, we can learn from each other. And it’s always good to remember no matter how long you have worked for an industry an accident can still occur.”

"Every time I have gotten back from the WRMC I am excited about risk management."

We thank Rebecca and the SUWS of the Carolinas for their contributions to the WRMC.

If you are a wilderness therapy program looking to share your experiences with SUWS of the Carolinas or other similar organizations, register today for the 2015 WRMC in Portland, Oregon, October, 14-16.

Written By

Anna Wiser

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