Summer camp is so much fun! Archery, canoeing, rock climbing and field sports are all a blast for kids, but do come with some amount of risk. Responsible camps can keep that risk level at a minimum by constantly implementing and managing risk management practices.
It’s important to remember that your campers are looking at your counsellors as role models, and your counselors are looking to you, the camp director. The focus on safety should start with you and trickle down to your staff and then campers.
Preparing Staff for Risk Management
There are some things you can do to help prevent a crisis from happening at camp and to make safety and risk management a major focus during your staff training. It’s important to remember where your young staff and counsellors are developmentally and meet them at that level. In an article posted on the American Camp Association website, a camp director gives some tips on what you and your staff need to understand in order to better manage risk.
New risk capacities (risk management training) will evolve over time as your staff gain experience. Have your older, more experienced staff mentor younger counsellors.
Peer pressure is still a major factor for teens and young adults. Continue to promote smart choices and give clear instructions in both your instructions and own behavior. Tell your staff to do the same.
Everyone who works at camp knows that they get tired and flat-out exhausted. When we are tired that is when we start to skip safety steps or make mistakes. Make sure your camp staff are given breaks and time to rest and encourage them not to stay up too late.
Your camp staff will function at their best when they know and are comfortable in their surroundings. Partner experienced staff with younger or first-time staff members so they can show them the ropes, so to speak.
Risk Management Plan Resources
The Alberta Camping Association has some helpful articles on our blog about risk management for camps. Please click the links below for more information.
Dealing with Risk Management: The regulation of risk or crisis management will help identify and asses risk, and allow us to better control risks that could occur during daily operations of camp. A crisis could be a fire, natural disaster, power outage, theft, harmful accident to camper or staff, or even a death. With the right crisis management plan, although it will be difficult and there might be a time of closure, you could continue your operations despite of the adversary.
Enhancing Your Risk Management Plan: 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.
Risk Management in ACA Standard's Manual: In section 18.1 of the Alberta Camping Association’s Standards Manual, the word crisis is defined as an emergency resulting from an event, announcement, disaster or controversial issue affecting a camp. It goes on to state that a camp can resolve a crisis by taking rational action and conducting clear communications. That whether the crisis is an even or a disaster the main concern needs to be for the people who are directly involved, that being the campers, their parents and camp staff.