Warning To Parents: Is Your Child’s Summer Camp Safe?

by Regina

Kids, Safety And Warnings, Water Fun

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Who doesn’t remember summer camp? I know I do. I got to go to summer camp several times when I was a child, and I enjoyed it very much.

The truth is I’ll bet that most of us have fond memories of going away to camp, and as children we never wondered how safe we were. We always just assumed that the adults who were there to keep us safe would do so.

However, sadly that is not the case today.

Did you know that not all states require kids’ summer camps to have a license?

How about this?… Did you know that there are 28 states that don’t require a criminal background check for camp workers?

Essentially, what this means is that your children may not be as safe as you thought they would be when you sent them to summer camp.

Here’s what parents need to know about the safety of summer camps…

Unfortunately, because of the fact that any organization can legally call themselves a “camp” and the fact that there is so little policing when it comes to making sure that camp workers are qualified to do their jobs and have no criminal history… children are dying at summer camps.

Don’t Let This Happen To Your Child…

One case involves a 4-year-old boy in California (Yoni Gottesman) whose parents took him to a very high-class, well thought of club that had a swim camp. This child died because of gross negligence on the part of the facility and its workers.

There is video of a counselor repeatedly dunking this child up to 12 times before turning his back on the child. The little boy struggles to swim to the edge of the pool where he can get a grip. Within a few feet, he struggles a bit more and then ends up face down in the water right in front of lifeguards who don’t notice him until he has been face down for 8 minutes.

This is only one of many accidents, some fatal, that happen every year at kids’ summer camps. Here are a few others:

Parents:  Do Your Homework!

Following are some things you can do to prevent what happened to little Yoni from happening to your own children at summer camp.

The most important thing you can do is to ask a lot of questions!

1. Ask if the camp is accredited.

If you are told no, then find out why not.

If a camp is accredited, they are required to pass 300 different health and safety tests before they receive accreditation.

2. Ask how the summer camp recruits, hires and then screens its employees.

If it is one of those camps that does no criminal background checks on its employees, then you probably don’t want your children there because it would be very easy for a child predator to slip through the cracks.

3. Ask how old the camp counselors are.

You want your child’s camp counselors to be 18 or older and to have proper training.

This isn’t to say that someone a bit younger couldn’t be properly trained to do the job, but it translates into less possibility of something going wrong when the counselors are 18+ and have all the proper training and certifications (such as child CPR training, for example).

camp-counselor-assisting-young-children.jpg 4. Ask what kind of medical staff they have and what their training is.

Also be sure to ask how long it would take for an ambulance to get to the camp, and where the nearest hospital is.

Questions like these can be critical in the event that your child has an accident. For example, if the camp is out in the boonies and it would take an ambulance 30 minutes to get there and the nearest hospital is an hour away, then you may want to consider another summer camp that has closer medical facilities.

5. Ask how the summer camp handles discipline.

You want to make sure that the way the camp handles discipline coincides with how you would handle discipline as the parent.

You should also find out what types of behavior would get a child sent home.

6. Ask if the camp will be driving your child anywhere.

If they will, then find out who will be driving, how well-trained they are, and where they’ll be driving your child to.

camp-counselors-hand-in-hand-with-campers-by-Scott-Ableman.jpg7. Ask what the ratio of counselors to campers is.

The American Camping Association which handles the accreditation of summer camps requires the following ratios for overnight camps:

  • For kids age 7-8, the ratio should be 1:6
  • For kids age 9-14, the ratio should be 1:8
  • For kids age 15-18, the ratio should be 1:10

Proper ratios ensure that one camp counselor doesn’t become overwhelmed trying to keep an eye on too many kids at once.

8. Check for online reviews.

First, get online and look up the camp on review sites. Next, get the names and phone numbers of some credible references such as parents of other children who have attended camp there in the past. Find out if there was anything these people didn’t like about the camp.

As you can see, there is a lot to be aware of in order to keep your child safe at summer camp!

Since there are states that don’t require licensing or accreditation for summer camps, it is very important for parents to be aware of this. And don’t assume that just because a camp calls itself a camp means that it’s licensed or has been inspected by the state. This may not be the case.

There are no federal regulations when it comes to camps. Rules vary greatly from state-to-state. 6 states don’t require camps to be licensed at all. 28 states don’t require criminal background checks of camp employees. And, according to the American Camp Association, only 25% of camps in the U.S. are accredited, meaning they meet the 300 health and safety standards set by the association. 

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