When we send our little ones to camp in the spring, summer, fall, or even winter, or as we sign our families up to enjoy local recreation facilities, we’re always sure to keep safety top of mind. This is an important factor for families and recreation staff to consider for any program, and ensuring that we are all aware of potential dangers and emergencies, means that we can all do our part to prepare, plan, and respond accordingly. So, here are a few things to be mindful of:
Camps and sports programs are fantastic ways for kids of all ages to connect with one another and to keep everyone active throughout the year. It’s important to prepare for all types of physical activities, so that the right precautions are taken, and, if necessary, the right safety equipment is provided and used properly (think horseback riding or wall climbing). Depending on the activities, you might want to make sure your staff are certified for things like archery or lifesaving, so you can be confident that your participants enjoy an extra level of safety.
As kids interact with one another, they can get playful and rambunctious easily. While it’s a challenge to guess all the possible scenarios that can occur, it’s good to be prepared in general as a program leader. First aid kits and training are always a must for anyone running recreation programs, and it’s also important for staff to understand how to respond to various allergies or specific medication requirements that are outside the scope of general training. Also, as the adult(s) in charge, don’t be afraid to calm kids down and help them reset into a safe and fun environment. When everyone acts safely, there’s less of an opportunity for injuries to occur.
Allergies & Food Sensitivities
While seasonal allergies can be a challenge for participants attending spring and summer camps (especially those in outdoor environments), children and adults can suffer from a wide range of allergies, whether it’s due to a food sensitivity, insect stings, medication, or environmental changes. It’s important for program staff to know as much about an individual’s allergy requirements as possible so that they can prepare with additional medication and training, and know how to respond in the case of a reaction. It’s also good to make sure that families have a simple and straightforward way to provide those details and change them as needed, so that information is as accurate and up-to-date as possible. The same goes for any food sensitivities or allergies that can lead to a medical emergency.
Swimming Pool-Related Injuries
If kids get to enjoy time in the water, they should always be supervised, and staff should be aware of the varied levels of swimming competence between participants. Staff should be properly trained in First Aid, CPR, and Lifesaving, and know how to respond to an incident quickly and effectively. Kids should be encouraged to behave properly around the pool (no pushing or running), and should know to always get an adult in the event of an emergency.
Heat Stroke or Sunburn
This is especially prevalent in spring and summer camps where kids tend to spend more time outdoors enjoying their activities. It’s up to staff to ensure that kids stay hydrated by encouraging them to take regular water breaks while outside, and to stop strenuous activity if necessary. Staff should also ensure that sunscreen is applied regularly (more so if swimming is involved) to prevent sunburn.
Bug Bites & Rashes
Being outdoors during camps can lead to participants being exposed to bugs that bite. These can be more of an annoyance than anything, but in some cases are cause for allergic reactions. Staff should be well equipped with bug spray and medication to assist those participants who might have an allergic reaction, whether they know about it or not.
Many camps have procedures in place to prevent kids with recent illnesses from attending camp where they can potentially transmit germs and infections to others. As a parent, if you know your child has been unwell, consider keeping them at home to save others from getting sick too. However, there are occasions where children get sick while attending a camp or program, and it can be a challenge to predict or prevent it from happening. Kids spend a lot of time very close together, especially on overnight camps, so it’s important to have processes in place to prevent the quick spread of things like colds or stomach flu, and ensure that as few participants as possible get sick.
The camp experience is a positive one where kids get to learn while having fun, create new memories, and experience new things. Making sure that you are as well prepared as possible for any potential illness, emergency, or accident means that you can focus on ensuring kids have a positive program experience – one that they remember for years to come.
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