Ten Tips for Summer Camp Safety
The benefits and memories of summer camp can last a lifetime. By prioritizing child and youth safety, camps offer peace of mind to families who consistently rank child protection and abuse prevention in today’s top five most important issues. A well-thought-out safety plan ensures families are leaving their kids somewhere they are cared for and protected.
By providing a safety plan or child protection policy, screening guidelines, a Covid-19 mitigation strategy, and a staff and volunteer training program, you will help your camp stand out and keep families returning year after year.
Ten tips to increase camp safety.
- Kick-off the season with a short 5–10-minute child safety survey. Use it to understand what is important to families regarding children’s health and safety, gain feedback on opportunities for improvement, and open lines of communication.
- Implement a comprehensive screening process for anyone coming into direct contact with kids and youth. Due to some summer camp’s isolated nature, this should include those working onsite such as groundskeeper, kitchen and cleaning staff, or contracted labor.
- Create a touchless check-in and out process for families, staff, and volunteers that includes photo verification. This will reduce arrival and departure chaos, eliminate wait times, and ensure only those authorized can pick up children.
- Communicate with new and returning families, sharing your camp’s safety plan via the registration packet, online, social media, orientation meetings, newsletters, etc. Share what protection measures are in place, how they work, expectations for incident response, and how parents will need to respond.
- Complete a facility assessment. Look for burned-out lights, isolated areas, broken locks, or windows, make sure foodservice equipment is working correctly, and proper storage is in place for medications and medical supplies.
- Establish or continue to leverage your child protection policy. The benefit is anyone coming into contact with kids and youth has a defined set of working principles that eliminate the gray area. The policy should include screening, incident reporting, touch, social media, supervision ratios, a motor vehicle report for transportation, bullying, and boundaries.
- Define a visitor protocol for friends, family, deliveries, vendors, and anyone showing up unannounced. The process should include a check-in/out process, available time and dates, and visitor identification.
- Include a health management procedure in the safety plan that identifies and tracks allergies, medications, release forms, and other wellness information. For allergies, it is best to have information directly at your fingertips. For this reason, KidCheck offers the Admin Console App.
- Connect and work with your local resources such as fire, police, and EMS. They are an excellent resource for identifying potential safety issues and can assist with emergency management in an evacuation or natural disaster.
- Create a Covid-19 reopening plan. Many states are at various stages of opening back up. With the new CDC guidelines, it is essential to provide a clear picture of your procedures and alleviate concerns for families, staff, and volunteers. Your plan should include hygiene and handwashing, social distancing, PPE and face masks, screening, isolation and quarantine, and disinfecting and sanitizing.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to child safety. Still, every organization can benefit from reducing risk and liability, peace of mind for families, and increased retention and loyalty.
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Photo credit: Adobe stock Sergey Novikov