5 tips for camp risk management

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Running a summer camp is a very fulfilling job. Aside from being a business that helps bring out the best in individuals (and thus has a positive impact on society), summer camps have become quite a money maker in recent years.

In fact, the camp business is a whopping $18-billion dollar industry.
Whether you’re in it for profit or passion, there’s one thing you have to be aware of — camp risk management.

What is risk management?

Risk management is the process of identifying and mitigating or completely eliminating unacceptable risks. These are risks that could cause physical, emotional, or mental harm to campers or cause damage to your property. 

And if we take it a step further, camp risk management also involves safeguarding your camp’s brand. After all, the biggest asset a camp has is its name.

So how can you mitigate or eliminate the risks to your camp? 

5 tips to get started 

In order to build a brand for your summer camps, you need to have a track record for exceptional safety. And the only way to do that is to have a robust camp risk management system in place. These tips will put you on the right track.

1. Invest in qualified staff

One of the biggest expenses associated with running a summer camp is staff salaries. Hiring experienced counselors (especially senior counselors) is one of the best risk management moves you can make for your summer camp. These counselors are trained to spot danger from a mile away and to mitigate it, if possible. If not, they know what to do in an emergency.

Don’t skimp when it comes to staffing your summer camps. Not everyone is capable of supervising and ensuring the safety of your campers.

2. Institute and enforce a code of conduct

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Next to having skilled staff, another big factor that makes for a safe summer camp is developing a code of conduct — and putting a system in place to enforce it.

Most injuries and property damage are a result of a few campers who overstep their bounds. This is why it’s imperative to have a set of rules and procedures that everyone should follow. Your code of conduct will curb behaviour that can cause property damage and put other campers in danger, leading to a safe and enjoyable environment for all.

3. Knowledge is power

Running a camp is tricky. Not only are people with a multitude of different backgrounds and personalities thrown together, but many of them also have medical conditions that must be managed.

This is why it is important for you to collect as much information as possible about campers and staff alike. This information should be easily accessible to camp staff. 

Daunting as this may seem, online forms can help. They are easy to build and use. And many are HIPAA compliant so you don’t have to worry about prying eyes seeing your child’s sensitive information.

If you don’t know where to start, check out this guide on how to start a summer camp or get going right away with an all-inclusive summer camp registration system.

4. Ensure your campers are well hydrated

One risk that is an inherent part of summer, particularly at summer camps, is dehydration. Apart from encouraging regular water breaks, you should make it a point to educate staff and participants on the signs and symptoms of dehydration. This will significantly reduce the risk of dehydration as everyone will be looking out for each other.

5. Conduct an equipment audit before and after every camp

If you host a lot of campers in your summer camps, no matter how robust your equipment may be, it will wear out. You should test all of your equipment before and after each camp. This will help you identify equipment that needs to be replaced or repaired, and prevent injuries. 

How safe is your summer camp?

If you don’t have a camp risk management system in place, the truth is that your camp is not safe — even if you have the best staff and equipment. 

It’s crucial for camps to be able to avert or manage emergency situations. So go ahead, draw up and implement a robust camp risk management system for your summer camps. 


Editor's note: This is a guest post from the kind folks at JotForm.