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Your School’s Guide to Hosting Summer Camps

In the summer, many schools use their facilities to host athletic camps and clinics, academic programs, environmental education, and theater and other fine arts workshops. Camps are a great way to extend continuing education opportunities to students and generate community goodwill. And with the appropriate operational controls, forms and agreements in place, you can help ensure that camp memories are happy ones, both for campers and your school.

Sponsoring vs. Contracting – Which is Right for You?

While some schools sponsor their own camps, others lease their buildings to outside agencies to facilitate programs. Each method has benefits and drawbacks. When you own your programs, you maintain the control and the risks. If you contract the program out, you can transfer much of the risk to the program owner, but you also have less control over how the operation runs.

If you choose to contract, obtain certificates of insurance from the other organization(s) naming your school as an additional insured on their workers’ compensation and liability policies, which should include sexual abuse and molestation coverage. Keep in mind that regardless of who owns the camp, if your name and logo are on the promotional materials, you will be named in the lawsuit when something goes wrong.

Developing Policies and Standards – What You Need to Include

Many of your policies will center on how you and your staff interact with minors. Current practice models implement baseline policies across all programs for minors, with supplemental or additional procedures to support specific program needs. Here’s an overview of what you’ll want to cover:

  • Program/camp registration and approval from a centralized oversight office (with a clear definition of “program” or “camp,” as they differ from pre-admissions activities)
  • Compliance for personnel interacting with minor participants
    • Appropriate initial background clearances (and periodic rechecks as required by state laws or by school policy)
    • General or specialized training (initial and at regular intervals once employed)
    • Agreement to follow policies (which may include an employee code of conduct)
  • Requirements and procedures for reporting suspected maltreatment or abuse of a minor at the state (external) and school (internal) levels
  • Required legal forms for participation that contain:
    • A waiver and release of liability for participants
    • Emergency contact information, medical information, and permission to treat
    • A photo/media release
    • Penalties for noncompliance at the program and personnel level
  • In addition to a baseline policy, schools are adopting additional guidelines for programs, which may include:
    • Participant-to-adult ratios
    • Information for parents on how to report concerns or reach their child during a program
    • Participant check-in/check-out procedures
    • Medication guidelines
    • Participant code of conduct
    • Injury reporting
    • Emergency planning

© 2021 The GuideOne Center for Risk Management, LLC. All rights reserved.This material is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to give specific legal or risk management advice, nor are any suggested checklists or action plans intended to include or address all possible risk management exposures or solutions. You are encouraged to retain your own expert consultants and legal advisors in order to develop a risk management plan specific to your own activities.