How to Vet Your Kids’ Summer Camps for Safety

When we send our kids to summer camp, we expect it to be a time of fun and adventure for them, but we also expect the camp to be run safely. Unfortunately, however, campgrounds don’t always take every necessary precaution. As NBC affiliate KPRC 2 revealed in 2009, a camp counselor at a Hunt, TX summer camp had been repeatedly molesting his boys until a distraught letter home prompted one of the boys’ mothers to start investigating.

While these types of incidents are indeed rare, we should always make sure we know who is caring for our children and that they will do everything necessary to safeguard them. The following tips should help you with the vetting process.

“Background Checks” Are Not Enough

The way a camp screens its employees is a key to ensuring safety. But if they simply say they run “background checks” on their employees, it’s time to dig deeper. The reason: Basic background checks won’t identify most offenders. In fact, many camp counselors are young people who haven’t lived long enough to get black marks on their public records. According to Backgroundchecks.com, you should ask specifically which types of checks the camp runs. They should be running multi-jurisdictional background checks that look for sex offenders, as well as cross-referencing with the employees’ references and former employers.

Ask about Employee Training

Another question to ask is how camp counselors are trained to protect the children against opportunities for abuse. Specifically listen for the “rule of three”—namely, two counselors present with one child or two children present with a counselor—to avoid pairing an adult alone with a child. Also, ask about safety training in other areas (e.g., lifeguarding skills, first aid, CPR, etc.) to make sure they know what to do if a child gets sick or hurt.

Ask about Accreditation

Ask the camp if it is affiliated with any accreditation agency—for example, the American Camp Accreditation (ACA). These associations help keep campgrounds accountable to maintain elevated standards of safety and reporting protocols.

If your child is injured or hurt at camp due to someone’s negligence—or worse, victimized—our Washington D.C. personal injury attorneys can help you. Call our office for more information.