Summer Camp Safety for Your Child
Summer camp, whether it is a day camp or an overnight camp, can be a rite of passage for a child. Many anticipate it eagerly and never look back. Others get cold feet as the departure day approaches. If you had good camp experiences, it will be easy for you to reassure your child that they will have fun and not miss you one bit.
But before you reach the teary goodbye stage, you should check the camp’s credentials in order to ensure your child’s safety and continued good health. We’re not going to dwell on all the things that can go wrong—as a parent, you probably already have them lodged in your brain. But some camps are clearly safer and better for your child than others, so do your homework.
Does the State of Indiana Oversee Camps?
You might be surprised to discover that the state of Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) does not inspect day camps for health and safety, nor do they license the camps. The FSSA also does not require specific ratios of counselors-to-campers. However, the few camps that accept the federal vouchers known as CCDF vouchers are monitored by FSSA.
Neither does the Indiana State Department of Health (DoH) inspect or track day camps, nor do they license overnight camps. However, the Indiana DoH does inspect overnight camps where children reside at least 3 days at a time, for health and safety issues. Examples of things the DoH would check are the availability of fire extinguishers and first aid kits, proper sanitation facilities, and suitable facilities for food preparation and consumption.
What Should I Ask the Camp?
Because in some ways you are on your own in Indiana when it comes to checking the reputation of day and overnight camps, we have some suggestions regarding things to ask about:
- The camp director’s background. It’s recommended that they have some educational background, preferably a bachelor’s degree, along with at least 16 weeks of administrative experience at a previous camp job or jobs.
- The counselors’ training and their ages. Do they receive instruction in CPR/first aid, emergency procedures, safety regulations, abuse prevention, and behavioral management? All staff should be at least 16.
- The camper-to-counselor ratio. The younger the campers, the more counselors that are needed. At overnight camps, look for one counselor for every 6 to 8 children.
- How many counselors returned from last year? If the percentage is less than 40, find out why. Forty to sixty percent returnees are the norm.
- What will my kid do all day, every day? Details matter. Will your child like the activities?
- How does the camp handle medications? How are they given, and who gives them?
- How does the camp handle behavioral issues? Their philosophy should line up with your own when it comes to correcting your child.
- What about questions of sexual abuse? What are the camp’s procedures for protecting the child and reporting the abuse?
- How does the camp handle homesickness and problems with adjusting?
- What are the camp’s references?
- Is the camp accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA)? While this last aspect doesn’t guarantee a trouble-free summer, it does mean that someone has inspected the camp.
Certainly some of these questions might vary, depending on whether your child is attending a day camp or an overnight camp. However, all of them contain the seeds for a good interaction with camp personnel to aid you in your decision.
About 10 million kids will go to summer camp this year. If your child will be one of them, help your child by doing your part. You want them to have only happy memories to look back on by the time fall rolls around.
When others breach their duty, we keep ours.
Was your child injured as the result of a stay at a summer camp, regardless of whether it was a day camp or overnight camp? If you think you might have a case, keep in mind that there is a statute of limitations – or a deadline – for filing personal injury claims, so it is unwise to delay. If your child was harmed as a result of someone else’s negligence, you deserve compensation. Don’t lose the opportunity to obtain the money you need to take care of your child. Put your life back on track and let us help you make your family’s future financially secure. Call Mike Stephenson at 1-317-825-5200 or contact us for a free consultation; there is no obligation and there is no fee. At McNeely Stephenson, we believe justice matters.