Camp operators applaud Higher Ed Ministry’s strict SOPs for unis’ outdoor activities

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PUTRAJAYA: Recreational and motivational camp operators have welcomed the Higher Education Ministry’s move to impose stricter standard operating procedures (SOPs) for outdoor activities organised by universities.

Asia Camp founder Mohd Azizan Yunus said he supports the initiative, as it will ensure the safety of participants and allow camp operators to improve the quality of their operations.

“Our main focus is to ensure a smooth programme and that both organisers and participants will observe safety guidelines to avoid any untoward incidents.

“We suggest that the new SOPs include three aspects: (that universities) obtain approval from relevant authorities; that groups are guided by certified personnel only; and (for there to be) better contingency management.

“Accidents may happen anywhere, not just in the jungles. Organisers should seek approval before running outdoor activities so that the place can be monitored by relevant personnel,” he said when contacted by the New Straits Times.

Azizan, who has 12 years of experience in organising outdoor activities, said risk management assessment is also important, as one must make safety evaluations before, during and after each programme.

Rebutia Corporation managing director and motivator Rohaizan Ismail said the SOPs will be useful for camp operators and universities to carry out recreational activities.

“The ministry should also take locations into account. Recreational camps or centres are a lot safer, as they are certified and monitored by trained staff.

“However, it would require certain fees. That is why some organisations resort to forests or jungles to run outdoor programmes without asking for permission,” he said, adding that sufficient funds should be allocated to universities for such programmes.

Yesterday, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said that the ministry will introduce stringent SOPs for outdoor activities organised by higher education institutions.

The move follows the death of two Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Puncak Alam students during a camping exercise in Janda Baik, earlier this month.

“The ministry is drafting new SOPs to prevent such incidents from recurring.

“The order (for universities) to temporarily stop jungle activities will soon be lifted, maybe in about one month, while we are preparing the SOPs,” Idris said after launching the Soaring Upwards i-Video Competition at the Multimedia University in Cyberjaya.

Idris said the SOPs will cover all aspects of organising outdoor group excursions, including the need to obtain approval from relevant authorities before conducting activities in jungles.

On May 13, Noorain Mohtar, 23, and Muhammad Kamil Md Sukri, 22, were crushed to death by a large falling tree, while six other UiTM students were injured.

They had been at the Lata Carok waterfall for a survival activity.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar had said that the organiser of the activity did not seek prior permission or approval from the authorities. -NST

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