by Ed Schirick
1993, I was asked to write a column for Camping Magazine that looked
into the future, into the twenty-first century. The theme of the article
was how technological advances might affect and improve risk management
In retrospect, from the edge of the twenty-first century, my "crystal
ball" was very cloudy and, as a result, I have decided not to quit my
day job to become a futurist. I remember one of my suggestions was that
a new hand-held, computerized device, a personal digital assistant (PDA),
named Newton, developed by Apple, (yes, that's right Newton by Apple,
not Fig), could help directors capture risk management information and
make camp safer.
For some reason, Newton never did catch on. Neither did my suggestion.
Perhaps they were just ahead of their time. By the way, a later version
of the PDA, named Palm Pilot, did catch on. The latest version of Palm
Pilot features wireless Internet service; well, maybe not from camp,
but who knows?
The Influence of Technology
Technology has impacted camp, but maybe not in the way previously thought.
If you have any doubt about how the Internet and new technologies have
changed camp, check out the Web sites, e-mail addresses, and cell phone
numbers that now appear on director's business cards. Reflect on how
many camps now offer their newsletters online. Think about the information,
links, and services available to you online from the American Camping
Association and other organizations. This reflection will give you just
an idea of how technology has changed camp as a business, not to mention
society as a whole. The Internet, new technologies, and the information
age present camps with new challenges and risks.
The Risk Environment
For the most part, camps are just beginning to explore the possibilities
of the Internet and how to conduct e-business. Some camp directors are
harnessing the new technology. Others are embracing it albeit unevenly.
Some are choosing to maintain a traditional program with limited technology
programming. All of these are personal choices and have merit. Regardless
of the path you chose, you and your camp will be impacted by this newly
connected, wired world.
The reasons for this impact are simple. Campers and their families are
immersed in technology. Nearly 40 percent of Americans carry a mobile
phone, almost 50 percent of the population own a personal computer, and
about 100 million Americans go online every day. It seems like we live
in a fast-forward time. Everything is facilitated in large measure by
the ease of communication and the speed and quantity of information available
to us. These changes will create new risks to your businesses and new
challenges for serving your clients. To borrow a phrase from television
advertising, are you ready?
The Risk Issues
The biggest concern at camp is privacy, an old issue. But in this new
electronic world, you will have to manage privacy in a new and different
way. The more interactive your Web site becomes, the greater the risk
of intrusion and violation of privacy. These intrusions can be from employees,
ex-employees, hackers, campers, and competitors.
Second to privacy are the risks of defamation and infringement of copyright,
particularly for slogan, trademark, or other electronic publications.
These offenses can be innocent just because of the ease with which information
is shared on the Internet. They can also be a hornet's nest if violations
are committed without proper controls and policies in place and are intended
to do damage. These issues resemble old ones but present new challenges.
Actually, the entire issue of intellectual property in the law is in
its infancy. This will definitely be a hot topic as we go forward. Susceptibility
of your computer system to hackers, to viruses, and to vandalism represents
other key issues to be managed.
The fourth annual Computer Crime and Security Survey completed by the
Computer Security Institute (www.gocsi.com) and the FBI in 1999 stated
that 55 percent of the participants reported unauthorized access by insiders.
Of companies suffering a financial loss (51 percent of participants),
98 percent said their losses came from vandalism, 93 percent from denial
of service, 27 percent from financial fraud, and 25 percent from theft
of transaction information. Insider abuse of Internet access privileges
(downloading pirated software or inappropriately using e-mail systems)
was reported by 97 percent of the companies in the survey; the companies
could not quantify their financial loss.
Awareness Is Key
The key to managing these new risks and challenges at camp is awareness.
If you haven't taken the time to assess your computer system risks, including
the use of the Internet as both a business and programming aspect to
camp, take the time to do so immediately.
Although some of the risks may be new, a tried-and-proven process to
manage these new issues exists: the risk management process. Here is
a quick review of the steps to take to manage risk and some thoughts
to get you started on evaluating your camp's electronic risks.
Step 1: Risk identification
Review your camp's policies, practices, and uses of computers and the Internet.
For example, are you in compliance with all software licenses? What risks
and responsibilities do you assume in the contracts you