Every year we get several calls from the parent of a child who sustained a severe injury at summer camp. Most of the parents are shocked when I tell then that their child’s situation is not unique. Rather, thousands of children will suffer an injury during their camping experience this coming summer.
Negligence of camp staff
Of course many of the injuries sustained at camp are due to the carelessness of the camper themselves. However, a sizable portion of the injuries encountered are due to the the negligence of the camp in supervising children, hiring staff or furnishing or maintaining equipment. Over the years, we have noticed campers sustaining injuries in the following areas:
- Food poisoning – Particularly in summer weather, organisms can rapidly grow to unhealthy levels. Camps must take necessary steps to ensure all meals are prepared in a sanitary method to ensure the safety of all campers.
- Inadequate protective equipment -Special activities require special equipment. If a camp does not have the necessary equipment, the activity should not be done. Helmets, pads and protective fall equipment are just a few of the devices that help protect children of all ages from injury.
- Trip & falls – Creaky, loose boards are just the beginning. Many camps are used just a few months out of every year. Further, many camps are located in areas with huge climate changes from season to season, encouraging walkways and docks to weather far quicker than anticipated. Camp owners need to take all factors– both environmental and maintenance-wise when preparing for each camp season.
- Sexual abuse – A subject no one ever wishes to discuss. Sexual abuse may result from derelict camp counselors or even from other campers. Camp directors should fully screen all camp works to minimize this risk and take action immediately upon discovering any hint of improper conduct.
- Boating injuries – The highlight for many campers is a tubing ride or perhaps learning to water ski. Assuring boats are driven by trained staff and a spotter is used for activities is a good start to ensure that campers do not get struck by the boat they are being pulled by or being struck by another boat on a busy lake.
- Swimming pool accidents– A cool dip in the pool provides welcome relief from summer’s heat. Pools need to be proper staffed with trained life guards and properly maintained to assure that depths are properly marked. Swimming pools remain some of the most dangerous part of camp grounds as there are reports of camp drownings every year.
It’s not usually the fault of your child or other campers
Should your child sustain an injury, it is important to know that many of these situations give way to a claim against the camp and in most cases a recovery can be negotiated with the insurance carrier prior to trial.
Don’t be ignored by staff at camp
Also, as parents, it is important to bring any safety concerns to the attention of the camp director immediately. In most circumstances, directors are genuinely happy to learn of a potentially dangerous condition. If the director doesn’t, perhaps you should find another program for your child. A safe camper is a happy camper!