This is an excerpt from Effective Leadership in Adventure Programming 3rd Edition With Field Handbook by Simon Priest & Michael A. Gass.
Indeed, ethical standards have limitations. Ethical guidelines may conflict within certain cultures, requiring you to adapt them in such instances. Or you may find yourself in a situation in which a conflict exists among legal, organizational, and ethical guidelines. Conflict between ethical guidelines and their interpretation will likely arise and lead to dilemmas for you to resolve. No matter what your course of action, the summum bonum (do no harm) ethic you as a professional follow should be guided by empathy for the client. With this in mind, let’s look closely at these guidelines.
- Professionals conduct experiences with competence. As an outdoor leader, promote and conduct activities within your level. Provide services within the boundaries of your education, training, supervision, experience, and practice. Take reasonable steps to ensure the competence of your work. Avoid situations in which personal problems or conflicts will impair your performance or judgment. Stay abreast of current information in the field. Participate in ongoing professional efforts to maintain your knowledge, practice, and skills.
- Professionals conduct experiences with integrity. Conduct activities with honesty, fairness, and respect toward both clients and peers. Avoid false, misleading, or deceptive statements when describing or reporting qualifications, services, products, or fees. Be aware of how your personal belief system, values, needs, and limitations affect clients.
- Professionals conduct experiences with responsibility. Uphold the ethical principles of your work. Be clear with clients as to what everyone’s roles and obligations are. Accept responsibility for your behavior and decisions. Adapt methods to the needs of different populations. Ensure that you possess an adequate basis for professional judgments. Do not offer services when the constraints of limited contact will not benefit client needs (e.g., promising a single-day adventure experience will resolve a deep issue for a therapeutic or corporate population). Continue services only if it is reasonably clear that clients will benefit. Conduct experiences in a manner that minimally impacts or only temporarily damages the environment.
- Professionals conduct experiences with respect for the rights and dignity of clients. Respect the fundamental rights, dignity, and worth of all people. Respect clients’ rights to privacy, confidentiality, and self-determination within the limits of the law. Be sensitive to cultural and individual differences, including those due to age, gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, and socioeconomic status. Do not engage in sexual or other harassment or exploitation of clients. Respect clients’ rights to make decisions as well as help clients understand the consequences of their choices. Inform clients about the services and their rights, risks, and responsibilities. Offer an opportunity to discuss the results, interpretations, and conclusions of the adventure experience with clients. Respect clients’ rights to refuse consent to services and activities. Obtain informed consent from clients and, when appropriate, their parents or guardians before beginning services. Accurately represent your competence, training, education, and experience relevant to the program you are delivering.
- Professionals conduct experiences with concern for the well-being of clients. Be sensitive to clients’ needs and well-being. Provide for the physical needs of clients, including necessary water, nutrition, clothing, shelter, rest, or other essentials. Monitor the use of emotional and physical risk in adventure experiences. Assist in obtaining other services if the program cannot for appropriate reasons provide the professional help clients may need. Plan experiences with the clients’ best interests in mind both during and after the program. Respect clients’ rights to decide which confidential material can be made public, except under extreme conditions as required by law to prevent a clear and immediate danger to a person or persons.
- Professionals conduct experiences with recognition for their social responsibility. Be aware of your responsibilities to community and society. Encourage the development of standards and policies that serve your clients’ interests as well as those of the public. Respect the property of others.
- Professionals conduct experiences with objectivity by avoiding dual relationships with clients that impair professional judgment. Do not exploit or mislead clients or other leaders during and after professional relationships. Relationships include, but are not limited to, business, close personal, family, sexual, and otherwise inappropriate physical.
- Professionals conduct experiences to serve others. Assist people in need by addressing client social issues. Serve clients in ways so they become servant leaders themselves in their own culture and society. Understand the potential conflicts of ethical differences through service.
- Professionals conduct experiences with social justice in mind. Challenge social injustices, particularly for those clients who are subject to society’s greatest levels of unjust actions and perspectives. Support clients who find themselves in extremely vulnerable and powerless situations. Advocate for and strongly support those individuals and groups of people who are at a disadvantage from prejudice, poverty, discrimination, and other forms of social injustice. Make active efforts to address social injustice at all levels, using the tools of awareness, comprehensive knowledge, dialogue, action, advocacy, and decision making to rectify its unjust social imbalances.
- Professionals conduct experiences with the dignity and worth of the person in mind. Respect the personal rights of everyone. Match the context of cultural and ethnic diversity, empower clients to create their own destiny and pathway to achieve their own goals, and respect and empower the personal rights of everyone.