What To Do With 10-Year-Old When Summer Day Camp Ends 10 Summer Camp Safety Tips for Parents

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10 Summer Camp Safety Tips for Parents

1. Is the camp ACA (American Camp Association) accredited? Although accreditation does not ensure safety, and some states have more stringent safety requirements, accreditation is a very good place to start. The ACA reviews many standards regarding safety, health, program and camp operations, and provides support to more than 2,200 camps.

2. “Staff Training” or “Counselor Orientation” programs are not quite the same. To understand what counselors are taught, and by whom, you may want to view the training curriculum and training materials. For example, does the camp share with their counselors the general and activity specific safety requirements they say they DO? Is there a process for documenting training attendance? Is there a test counselors have to pass? Is there a document that advisors must sign stating that they understand and will comply with all security rules and procedures? Ask your camp directors these questions and see if you are satisfied with their answers.

3. Your child’s safety and well-being is directly dependent on the type of counselors the camp hires. Counselors are the individuals who live and eat with, and supervise, your child 24 hours a day. Ask about the camp’s screening process, and review the materials the camp has collected about the counselors, including their biographical backgrounds (and ages), their swimming, driving, and criminal records, and their previous employment histories (for example, has a counselor previously was shot elsewhere?). You may also want to know what percentage of the counselors are teachers and/or parents, and what percentage hold a current cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certificate and/or are first aid trained?

4. Not all camps discipline staff or children attending the camp, in the same way. You may want to learn the camp’s disciplinary policies and ask certain questions: (a) does it enforce a written policy of zero tolerance for drug or alcohol abuse (are counselors fired after the first discovery of drug/alcohol abuse?); (b) does it enforce a written staff and/or child curfew and, if so, at what time?; and (c) has it fired advisers before and why?

5. Find out if there have been previous deaths or serious injuries at the camp. You may want to learn what happened and what the camp did in response.

6. For all off-camp trips, especially hikes and excursions, is there a specific protocol? You may want to make sure that the camp requires (a) a tour guide qualified to Respond To Emergencies (“RTE”) (as required in some states) (this Red Cross certification requires significant hours of specialized training); (b) counselors to carry communication devices; (c) the counsel-in-charge to be over a certain age; (d) buddy system to be used; (e) lost camper plan to be followed; and (f) parental permission to be signed.

7. Has the camp identified potential serious threats to the camp, staff or guests? Do they have an emergency plan?

· Environmental threats — earthquakes, hurricanes, forest fires, landslides and tornadoes.

· Security threats — hostile parents or visitors, hostage situations, verbal threats and child abduction.

· Health threats — intentional or unintentional food poisoning or water contamination, child abuse, infectious diseases, staff death, and group emotional stress resulting from a catastrophic event.

· Off-site hazards — off-site travel, airports, nuclear power plants and dangerous wildlife.

8. All camps should have written health policies and protocols that have been approved by a physician with particular knowledge of child health, preferably a pediatrician.

9. Camp authorities must be responsible for describing to the parents the activities and programs and the health services available at the camp. Parents should be aware of the pre-admission medical requirements at the time of registration.

10. Before the child’s first day of camp, parents or guardians should provide the camp authorities with a health history, including the child’s significant previous illnesses, surgeries, injuries, allergies, current health status and current medical problems. Also, orders from a licensed healthcare professional must be obtained for prescription drugs, diets, or special medical devices such as inhalers or nebulizers.

For more information about camp, go to www.acacamps.org.

Now that you have a summer camp safety strategy, you and your child can have a great summer camp experience. Especially when you can sleep at night knowing they are in a safe and well equipped environment.

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