All my children's friends go to summer camp. My kids are eager to go too. I'm leery of sending them because of safety issues. What questions do I need to ask to find a safe camp? -- Concerned
Answer: With everything that is currently going on in the world, you have every right to be concerned about sending your kids off to camp, and you have every right to ask questions to make sure that you are totally comfortable with your decision when you finally select a camp.
It is true that all camps have risks. Daily living has risks, but there are definitely questions you should be asking, like:
- What licenses or accreditations do you have?
- Are you accredited by the ACA (www.acacamps.org)?
ACA supports over 2,200 camps.
- Have either your licenses or your accreditations ever been revoked?
- Are you licensed by the state?
Remember, accreditation is not the same as licensing. Licensing has surprise inspections and focuses on enforcement of minimum regulations, often in sanitation and food service. This will vary from state to state.
- Are you accredited?
Accreditation with scheduled visits focuses on education and supporting best practices in camping operations. Standards and procedures are nationally developed. Camps must demonstrate compliance with mandatory standards to achieve accreditation.
- Does every employee have a criminal background check?
- Are all employees checked through the national sex offender registry?
- What kind of training does your staff receive?
- How often do you screen your staff?
- Who drives the children?
- Are all waterfront staff lifeguard trained?
- What supervision is there for water-related activities?
- Do all staff members receive first aid and CPR training?
- What is the ratio of staff to campers?
- Does the camp have an anti-bullying policy?
- Is there a doctor or nurse on staff?
- May parents visit at any time?
- What is the protocol for emergencies?
- What is the staff return rate?
- What is the age of the counselors?
- What does a typical daily schedule look like?
- Will you provide me with references of previous campers?
- What is the camper return rate?
- How will you keep my child safe?
- What is special about your camp?
- Can I communicate directly with my child, or do I have to communicate through a counselor?
- What is the philosophy of the camp?
- How do you handle conflict between campers?
- Can I have a copy of the camp's "Written Plan" for safety?
- Have there been deaths or injuries at your camp?