Summer camp can be a fun way for your children to socialize with others in the outdoors while allowing you much needed alone adult time. You place trust in camp counselors and summer camp owners to adequately supervise your children and keep them away from any danger.
Generally, a camp bears responsibility for keeping your children reasonably safe, and must review its activities and facilities to minimize injury risks and seek adequate healthcare treatment for those that do occur. A camp also has a duty to perform background checks of its staff that will have contact with children. When a summer camp fails to present a safe place for your children, you have the potential to bring a claim against the camp if your child is injured.
Because it is always better to avoid problems than to have to face them later, here are questions to ask a summer camp before enrollment:
- How are camp counselors chosen? Are they screened with work history and background checks? Do new counselors have prior experience working with children?
- How is the staff trained in terms of safety? How many hours of training, and does the training include passing safety and first aid tests? Are any of the counselors certified by the Red Cross in first aid and CPR?
- What is the camp’s policy regarding disciplining campers and staff? Does it maintain zero tolerance for staff drug and alcohol abuse? How has the camp dealt with past infractions?
- Have there been any serious injuries or deaths at the camp? If so, how did the camp respond to the event and prevent future events?
- Does the camp do overnight trips or excursions, and if so, what is the safety protocol? Is there a trip leader of at least minimum age qualified to respond to emergencies? Is there a buddy system, an emergency plan if a camper is lost, and use of cell phones?
- Does the camp have an emergency plan to cover everything from earthquakes, hurricanes, and forest fires to hostage situations, dangerous wildlife, and verbalized threats? Is there a plan to cover health problems like food poisoning, water contamination, disease outbreaks, and staff deaths?
- Is the camp accredited by the American Camp Association? The ACA standards include safety, health, and program and camp operations.
To find a summer camp and get more information about the American Camp Association, visit their website at http://www.acacamps.org/.