At Summer Camp
With direct input by medical professionals, The American Camp Association has established a set of minimum standards covering facilities, staffing and procedures accredited camps should adhere to. Even items ranging from water testing to accessing local emergency medical transportation are covered in their standards document. Variables such as who the campers are, the nature of programs and activities and even the proximity to nearby medical services all have an impact on a camp’s healthcare plan. Some plans even exceed ACA minimum requirements.
To assist member camps, the ACA provides a range of documents including Guidelines for Special Medical Needs Campers, Accident Report forms, Healthcare Policies Checklist, Screening, and many others. Their health and wellness resources include updated guidance on masking, vaccination and research that focuses on safe camp operations.
According to the association, overnight camps should have a registered nurse or licensed health care practitioner (prescriber) on site daily. Day camps must have readily available access to a registered nurse or prescriber. There should also be at least one staff member with CPR/AED certification on-site who can provide health care services while at camp and any emergencies that might come up during camp trips.
Appropriate staffing is an important part of maintaining health and well-being while at summer camp. For special needs camps, a minimum of 25 percent of supervisory staff should have at least 16 weeks of experience with the camper population or a bachelor’s degree that relates to the clientele served and 100 percent of the counseling/program staff must be at least 18 years old. The ACA recommends that at least 80% or more of accredited camp staff who directly interact with campers such as counselors and program staff be 18 years or older. Staff must be at least 16 years old and be at least two years older than the campers with whom they work.
Of course, Covid continues to be an important topic when it comes to camp health. The Center for Disease Control has stated that summer camps are maintaining strong protocols to protect their campers. For instance, as of December 14, 2021, Frost Valley YMCA requires “all eligible overnight campers (ages 5 and up) and staff will be required to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to attend camp with the only exception being those who are medically exempt from receiving the vaccination.” The Department of Health in various states have issued guidance for summer camps during the Covid-19 emergency. The ACA has also created a very helpful resource page called the “State Operating Guidance for Summer Camps 2021” they’re continually updating.
Whether your child attends an accredited camp or otherwise, be sure to learn about their health and medical resources to ensure you and your camper have a great summer camp experience.