Now is the time of year when parents are signing up their children for summer camps. There are camps for every interest, from sports to the science. But are they safe?
Every camp has risks, but some are vastly more safety conscious than others. And while the brochure may paint a pretty or exciting picture, parents need to look beyond the marketing and find out how committed the camp is to keeping the kids in its care safe.
Parents must look beyond the great websites and enticing brochures for a safety check.
Chris Faiella, parent and attorney specializing in school sports accidents and injuries in Kansas and Missouri, offers parents these tips on investigating the safety of your children’s summer camps.
There are several issues that can create safety problems at camps.
- Camp counselors and coaches are often teens themselves.
- Negligent supervision, e.g. ill-trained or overburdened lifeguards.
- Fifty percent of injuries occur when safety equipment is available but not used or not working.
- Coach abuse can range from verbal abuse to physically unsafe workouts at sports camps.
- Sexual misconduct by coaches and counselors doesn’t just happen at schools.
Faiella recommends parents visit the camp before signing up. If a visit isn’t possible, the parent should still ask these questions:
- Is the camp licensed or accredited? Was that license or accreditation ever revoked?
- Who are transport drivers? What is the staff-to-child ratio on buses?
- Can parents visit at any time? Is there phone access?
- What are coaches’ training and backgrounds?
- Does the camp do criminal background checks on coaches and staff?
- What is the age of staff, and do tasks match their age and maturity?
- Are lifeguards certified? By whom?
- How many lifeguards are there per number of swimmers?
- How do they identify and mark non-swimmers?
- How do you encourage participation?
- What keeps competition at a healthy level?
- How do you handle discipline?
- Is there an anti-bullying policy?
- Who is first aid, CPR, and/or emergency defibrillator trained?
- Is there a medical staff? What are their qualifications and hours of coverage?
- What is the protocol for emergency situations?
- When do you call the parents?