Enhancing your Risk Management Plan

General - Gardner Low Ropes2

Every camp has a comprehensive insurance policy to protect it from the instances where ‘things can go wrong’.  Though managed, there are some risk factors that extend beyond what your insurance policy or agency might cover.  It’s important to have a solid risk management plan in place to safe guard against mishaps and ensure joyful, accident free summer camp season. 

Use this quieter time during the off-season to review and build upon your current risk management plan.  An article published in Camp Business interviewed several camp directors regarding this topic.  Here is some of the advice they had to offer:

Create an exit survey for your summer camp staff. 

This is a good part of any debriefing process and a great opportunity to find out how to improve your operations, programs and staff training for the next season.  It’s also an opportunity to improve your risk management practises.  Ask questions like:

  • Did you feel comfortable running this activity?
  • Did you feel comfortable supervising a cabin of 10-12 campers?
  • Did you notice anything in your cabin, the washroom or other buildings that need to be repaired?
  • Did you notice any equipment that looked worn out or damaged?

If your camp staff do not feel comfortable at the end of summer camp, there is a problem.  Either they are unhappy and might not be doing their job properly or there is an issue with something that should be investigated to ensure it’s as safe and risk-free as possible.  For example, you could discover that your counselors were nervous that certain campers could roll out of bed, which means you might want to heighten your bunk rails.

Your staff are also the ones running activities, using equipment and facilities.  If there is something that is damage and needs to be repaired or replaced, they probably will know about it.

Create videos of camp-life throughout the summer. 

This doesn’t mean you have to install surveillance cameras around camp like you’re spying on your staff and campers.  If you don’t already have a videographer on sight, consider tagging that responsibility to one of your summer camp staff positions.  Not only can they produce a fun video for your camper families to take home at the end of the week, going through the footage of everyday camp life might help you find some areas where you could tighten up your safety practises.

As a camp director, you can’t be everywhere at once.  Going over the footage will allow you to see how activities are running around camp and even off campus.  For example, one camp director saw footage of kids canoeing and one of the campers was wearing a life jacket that was way to big for him.  Now that camp has added additional PFD use and fitting into their waterfront staff training.

Have a senior staff member inspect cleaning and maintenance weekly, or if necessary, daily. 

It’s not uncommon to assign teenaged volunteers on cleaning duties.  We give them a to-do list, cleaning supplies and tell them to get to it.  Though their hearts are in the right place, it’s important to check up on them regularly to make sure their doing a good job, especially if your staff changes jobs from week to week. 

In the same way, you should also make sure you’re keeping up with facility maintenance and inspecting that regularly as well.  Unclean, unkempt and unhealthy conditions of your cabins and facilities will not only turn off parents and possible prevent return campers, but it can also pose a health risk to your campers and staff.

Give your camp a full inspection and risk management review before summer camp starts. 

Take a map of your camp property and systematically check every building, activity, all equipment, mechanical system and everything else you have on site.  Evaluate the risks that could be involved at any location and scenario and quickly move on fixing or reducing those risks.

How often do you review you risk management policy and procedures?  Make a habit of reviewing it regularly, especially when your camp programs are in full swing.  Find more resources including links and documents on the ACA Member's section of our website.

Categories: Camp Resources, Health And Safety