Keeping Your Kids Safe at Summer Camp - In a Heartbeat

Keeping Your Kids Safe at Summer Camp

Children across the US are packing up and heading out to summer camp.  But what should you know before you send them away with their bug spray, bandaids and sunscreen? 

Before sending your children to any camp, day or overnight, there are important questions you should ask.  You may also find it helpful to visit the camp yourself to see the facilities and to visit with the director and camp counselors, especially if your child has special needs or allergies.  

  • Training:  What types of training have camp counselors received? All counselors should know and be able to effectively carry out all safety and emergency procedures, appropriate discipline techniques, child abuse prevention, appropriate behavior for counselors as well as campers, and supervision procedures.
  • Supervision:  What is the camper to counselor ratio?  Ratios will vary based on age and special requirements, but the American Camp Association generally recommends “one staff member for every five campers ages 4 and 5; one staff member for every six campers ages 6 to 8; one staff member for every eight campers ages 9 to 14; and one staff member for every 10 campers ages 15 to 17. At day camps the ratios range from: one staff member for every six campers ages 4 and 5; one staff member eight campers ages 6 to 8; one staff member for every 10 campers ages 9 to 14; and one staff member for every 12 campers ages 15 to 17.”
  • Water Safety:  Are there pools or other bodies of water at the camp?   If so, are there certified lifeguards? Are camp counselors trained in proper water supervision?  Proper water safety techniques should always employ the buddy system while swimming, areas should be designated and supervised by lifeguards, young or inexperienced swimmers should have US Coast Guard approved life jackets, swimmers should drink plenty of water and sunscreen greater than SPF 30 should be regularly applied.  Aquatic areas should have rules posted and barriers, such as fences, for pools.
  • Medical Personnel:  What type of medical personnel are on site? Where would a child be treated in the event of a sickness or injury? Are the counselors trained in CPR & AED and first aid techniques?  The AMA suggests 1 medical healthcare provider for every 125 persons, if the population is generally considered healthy, with only well managed healthy problems.  If medication is to be dispensed, the healthcare provider must be a physician.  CPR and AED certifications are a must.

How to Choose a Camp: Safety Tips.

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