Safety is one of the most important elements of running a successful summer camp. Whether you are just starting a summer camp or you have run one for a number of years, establishing and maintaining summer camp safety procedures can help keep all of your staff on the same page and all of your campers safe and healthy for the duration of the summer.
At Sawyer, our goal is to make administrative tasks easier for children’s camps and activity businesses so that they can spend more time doing what matters: creating memorable and safe experiences for children. In this article, we’ll go over summer camp safety procedures including policies, camp safety rules for kids, and a children’s camp safety plan template to help you plan for the best, and safest, summer camp experience. Looking for more support to jumpstart your camp? Check out our ultimate guide to starting and running a kids camp.
Summer camp policies and procedures
When you plan your summer camp policies and procedures, it is important to do a lot of research. With health and safety, the strongest recommendation is to look to the professionals. Here are some important elements to consider when planning, writing, and implementing your summer camp policies and procedures.
Check state specific guidelines
The American Camp Association has a handy page that links to each state’s individual camp health and safety rules. Each state varies in how it oversees and regulates camp operations. In many states, camps fall under the jurisdiction of the state health department. However, others have licensing and permit fees that are different by county or city. In addition, many states use ACA-accreditation requirements as the standard of care for camps. Make sure to consult this page to ensure that your camp’s plan complies with your state’s rules.
Get the required certifications
There are a number of certifications needed to run camps in each state. Certifications are often focused around swimming, first aid, and CPR. However, there are other requirements surrounding children’s allergies, sports and playground equipment, and even bunk bed guardrails to which camps need to adhere. Careful reading of the necessary documents is essential to running a safe and above board camp. You should also make sure to purchase summer camp insurance to protect your assets, staff members, and campers.
Train your counselors well
Getting the required certifications and writing a thorough summer camp safety plan are important first steps. But, adequate camp counselor training is essential to ensuring that these rules and regulations are actually implemented during the summer. Ensuring you have proper diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) best practices in place will also make your camp a safer and more welcome space.
We recommend making your counselor training sessions interactive so that they stay engaged and remember what they are learning. Camp is fun, but safety is the most important aspect of the summer and it is important to remind your staff members of this fact frequently. Encourage open communication with your counselors so that they feel comfortable approaching you with questions and concerns during the season.
Camp safety rules for kids
Besides your written rules, it is good to establish some general camp safety rules for kids to follow while they are at camp. Keeping these at the forefront of your campers’ minds can help them avoid dangerous situations and stay safe while having fun all summer long.
- Buddy up. You never want a camper to wander off, so implementing a buddy system is a good way to ensure your campers are always paired off. This is helpful when swimming, on field trips, and while hiking.
- Know what is off-limits. If campers get free time, make sure that they know where they can and can’t go. For example, the swimming pool or lake is off-limits unless they are with their counselors. Likewise, any other dangerous areas like the parking lot, woodshop, or gym can only be visited with adult supervision.
- Wear athletic shoes and clothes. Injuries happen when people are ill prepared. Do not let campers play tennis in flip flops, walk around the campgrounds barefoot, or run a race in a flowy dress or pants. Their safety is your number one priority so do everything you can to avoid injuries.
- Stay hydrated and wear sunscreen. Children have so much fun at camp that they might forget to do simple tasks like drink water and reapply sunscreen. Have staff members model good behavior by filling up their water bottle and putting on sunscreen and bug spray so the campers do it as well.
- Keep clean. Whether it is their cubby, cabin area, or just their own clothes and personal hygiene, cleanliness is an important camp safety rule for kids. The summer is hot and campers are running around, so make sure they are staying clean so they stay healthy. Similarly, keeping their cabin area clean is a great way to teach responsibility and prepare them for their futures.
Children’s camp safety plan template
There are many children’s camp safety plan templates that you can utilize to organize your safety procedures and policies. Make sure that you provide a printed copy of the staff handbook to each of your counselors so that they can read it on their own and refer back to it when needed. Here are some of the best children’s camp safety plan templates that you can adapt for your own use.
- American Camp Association: Summer Camp Safety Plan Guidelines | See document
- New York City Health Dept: Summer Camp Safety Plan Template | See document
- New York Health Dept: Children’s Camp Safety Plan Template | See document
- Maine Camps: Summer Camp Emergency Prep Guide | See document
Plus, if you are looking for COVID safe practices for summer camp, as recommended by the CDC, see our guide.
Keeping your campers safe and healthy requires work and preparation, but with the right support and research, you can make this summer the best one yet. If you are looking to spend less time on administrative tasks and more time on the fun side of running a camp, Sawyer is the best camp registration and management software for both in-person and online summer camps.
With our suite of tools, like signup forms to record allergies and t-shirt sizes, various payment options like gift cards and installment plans, and seamless registration on any device, Sawyer saves camp owners 28 hours per month. If you are ready to spend less time on admin and more time doing what you love, see how Sawyer can help with a free trial or demo. Interested but not sure how to start a summer camp? Check out our guide.