Summertime is a season for relaxation, and for kids it's all about enjoying a few months of carefree fun away from school. Moreover, children have the opportunity to go summer camps, where they'll meet new friends and take part in exciting activities. Yet if you're thinking of sending your child to camp, remember to check that it maintains strict safety standards - their life and well-being depend on it.
According to the American Camp Association (ACA), there are 12,000 summer camps throughout the United States, 7,000 of which are overnight facilities. Every year, around 10 million campers, almost all children, go to these camps for a positive summer experience. However, only about 25% of camps across America are actually accredited by the association, which provides safety guidelines for its members. What are the main guidelines you should look for when choosing a camp for your child?
- Skills Test: Before a child engages in any activity requiring skill, camp staff should administer a skills test to ensure safety. Examples of such activities include swimming, diving, water sports, boating, rock climbing, rappelling, horseback riding, etc. A "buddy system" for swimming is a good way to lessen risk of drowning.
- Staff Training & Background Checks: Make sure camp staff are properly screened with background checks and have the necessary training to supervise children and keep them safe.
- First Aid: Camp staff should be trained in rendering first aid. In addition, there should be readily available medical staff (paramedics, nurses, etc.) on the site around the clock.
- Emergency Transportation: Vehicles for transporting injured children in the case of an emergency should be available at all times, and the quickest routes to local hospitals should be known and practiced beforehand.
- Staff-to-Camper Ratio: In order for staff to properly oversee children, there should be a ratio that permits adequate oversight. For example, there should be at least one lifeguard on duty for every 70 swimmers.
- Accreditation: Check and see if the camp is accredited by the ACA. At the same time, make sure that even if it is accredited, you thoroughly investigate its history and safety standards.
- Floatation Aids: If a camp features activities involving watercraft, ensure that floatation aids (such as life vests) are in use on all rafts, kayaks, canoes, etc.
Your child should have a fantastic time at summer camp - and when you do your homework on where to send them, you're helping keep them happy and safe.