Winterline is officially accredited by the Gap Year Association for having demonstrated a commitment to the highest standards in safety, quality, and integrity. We manage risk in a multitude of ways, utilizing exposure to controlled/managed risk as a means of furthering our students’ personal growth and transformation. Through the use of effective evaluation, education and training, good communication, and implementation of emergency response protocols, our risk management approach provides a foundation for ensuring the safety of each and every Winterline participant.
Student Eligibility & Behavior
An important way in which we manage risk is through our admissions process. Winterline is not a therapeutic program and is not the correct fit for students with significant emotional, behavioral, or cognitive issues. All students must meet the physical, emotional, mental, and behavioral needs of our programs in order to be considered for admission and to remain on a program for its duration. Students who cannot meet the expectations of a Winterline program will be denied admission.
Students must be physically fit, emotionally stable, and willing to adapt their behaviors to shifting and differing expectations of the various partners, cultures, environments, and countries that they engage with. Students must understand that while some instructions may not make sense to them at the time, these instructions and restrictions are put in place based on assessed risks and contextual expectations. All students must have the social, cognitive, emotional, and physical capacity to comprehend, engage, and mitigate risk appropriately while on our programs.
Our complete Essential Eligibility Criteria is available here.
Winterline places high value on the need for effective communication with and between student groups. All field staff are equipped with sufficient communication equipment to enable them to contact headquarters and local authorities in the event of an emergency. Each Winterline participant is asked to bring an unlocked smartphone. We provide local SIM cards that permit participants to connect to local wi-fi networks and make calls, whether to Winterline staff, other participants, families, et al during the program. Additionally, each participant carries an emergency contact phone list with the numbers of emergency response and resource personnel.
All Winterline participants are registered with the US Department of State ‘Smart Traveller Enrollment Program‘ (STEP) so that they can be informed of any travel warning or advisory and can be best supported in the event of an emergency. In addition, Winterline personnel receive daily security updates and monitor both international and local media where our participants are traveling, remaining in close contact with partners on the ground.
Staff & Participant Training
Winterline staff members hold a wealth of experience in risk management and implementation of safety protocols. This experience enables our staff to view safety from multiple perspectives, and develop and implement those practices that help ensure the safety of all Winterline participants. Additionally, Winterline invests in training each staff member to ensure they have the most current training in a variety of intervention and risk management procedures.
All current Field Advisors have a Travel Medicine First Responder (TMFR) / Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certification. All Winterline participants are required to attend pre-departure webinar trainings designed to brief them on health and safety topics before attending a week long orientation held at the beginning of the program.
While Winterline works with the best of skills-based teaching organizations worldwide, we carefully evaluate selected partners for “standards of best practice” and for their effective implementation of risk management approaches. Each partner is vetted to ensure a safe working and living environment, and works with Winterline to coordinate risk management efforts each year.
Health & Safety Management in the Field
Winterline helps ensure the safety and care of its participants by providing a variety of types of insurance coverage through several external organizations. We ensure that each participant has access to a full range of travel medical insurance as well as emergency evacuation services, including political evacuation and trip interruption coverage. When medical or safety questions arise, our participants have 24/7 access to top quality medical and safety consultative services.
Risk Management Education
As a core part of the curriculum, Winterline teaches its participants the skills of risk management in order to promote responsible decision-making regarding their safety and that of their fellow participants. Teaching participants how to effectively take responsibility for themselves and for each other is one of the most important steps in controlling risk.
Risk is an inherent part of life, whether traveling to distant corners of the world, or crossing the street in one’s hometown. Risk can never be prevented but it can be managed, and learning to manage risk is an important life skill, which Winterline aspires to teach.