Minister: Ensuring Safety For Children At Camps

June 25, 2015

[Updated with video] Minister of Community, Culture and Sports, Pat Gordon–Pamplin today announced the  “The Safe Camp Committee” — with representatives from The Department of Child and Family Services, Youth and Sport, Child Development, Environmental Health, The Family Centre and The Coalition for the Protection of Children — which has been set up with the purpose of ensuring that every child who attends a camp is safe.

Minister Gordon–Pamplin’s full statement follows below:

I wish to advise you of the Cross Ministry/Community partnership that has been established to ensure child safety while at camp.

With summer holidays quickly approaching and the daunting task of finding safe affordable camps, “The Safe Camp Committee”; with representatives from The Department of Child and Family Services, Youth and Sport, Child Development, Environmental Health, The Family Centre and The Coalition for the Protection of Children has been set up with the purpose of ensuring that every child who attends a camp is safe.

This committee was established as a result of the concerns expressed of camps [not just Summer Camps] not being monitored or regulated.

The Committee’s Purpose is twofold:

  • To empower parents with the provision of information to ensure that the camps they choose for their children are safe.
  • To provide camp operators with the suggested guidelines to ensure that they are operating according to “best practice’ standards.

To date the Safe Camp Committee has:-

  • established a Facebook page
  • developed the top 10 things you should ask before sending your child to camp
  • reviewed the information guidelines for camp providers produced by Youth and Sport entitled “Guidelines for Day and Over Night Camping Administrators”
  • Explored a registration process and incentive for camps to register with the Department of Environmental Health.

Future action items include:-

  • Family Centre to host on behalf of the Committee “Pop Up” workshops on running safe camps.
  • Public Awareness Campaign
  • Looking at further policy development for camps.
  • Making amendments to current legislation to include regulation of camps.

We will be promoting the criteria for child protection and health and safety standards for managing camps and knowing that knowledge is power highlighting what parents should look for and ask before sending their children to camp. To this end we developed, “The top 10 things you should ask before sending your child to camp.”

They include:

1. Where is the camp located?

Is there a suitable and safe building/structure for the camp’s base?
All programmes should meet established guidelines for indoor space, free from hazards, in good condition and meet environmental health standards.

2. Who are the staff operating the camp?

Do you do background checks on your staff? Are camp staff CPR/First Aid trained?
Are medical forms about the campers collected; how are medications stored?
At a minimum, camp staff should be trained in safety regulations, emergency procedures and communications, behavior management techniques and child physical and sexual abuse prevention and reporting.

3. What is the camp’s philosophy and programe emphasis?

Is the camp’s program/ activities age and developmentally appropriate for the children they serve. What does a typical day look like for the camper, what does the camp focus on? How many hours are spent outside in the sun? Are the campers orientated to the camp and to systems put in place to keep campers safe?

4. What is the camp’s behaviour and disciplinary policy?

What are the rules and consequences? How do they use positive reinforcement? Is there a policy on Bullying? What is the behavior management philosophy? Will parents or guardians be contacted in the case of problematic behavior becoming a safety issue for the child or others?

5. What is the counselor-to-camper ratio?

Ratios and maximum group size vary according to age and activity. See the suggested ratios posted on Environmental Health’s Web site, outlined in the Guidelines for Day and Over Night Camp Administrators and the Safe Camps Bermuda facebook page.

6. What is the transportation/ excursion policy?

Does the camp provide transportation? If yes, is it via pre-organized vans or buses? What are the conditions of the vans i.e.; seatbelts and driver experience. If bus what are the checks and balances to ensure safety enroute. What are the contact numbers of a camp staff person that can be reached at all times even when campers are on excursions.

7. What is your water safety policy?

Children should not be permitted near water without supervision and a staff member who is First Aid -certified and familiar with lifesaving procedures. All campers’ ability to swim should be assessed and activities designed according to skill level of each child.

8. What is the true cost of the camp?

What does the camp fee include? Are there other expenses? Will outside activities cost extra? Is there a refund policy?

9. Is the camp registered?

All camps that take preschool age children must have their camp registered with the Department of Environmental Health. Other camps wishing to be given a seal of approval should also be registered as striving to meet best practice standards and keep children safe.

10. What is your policy on visitors and communicating concerns?

How does the camp screen visitors? Parents should make sure that there is a method for making sure that unauthorized visitors are not allowed access to children. Is there a method of accounting for children upon arrival and prior to dismissal, inclusive of a departure procedure? You should also feel comfortable knowing who to lodge a concern or grievance with.

To all parents we know that knowledge is power and can most assuredly help keep our children safe, we urge you visit our Facebook page for more information @ Safe Camps Bermuda.

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Comments (4)

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  1. Ann says:

    If you don’t know this information without being told, please think about not having more children.

  2. seriously?? says:

    Ann, I was going to think the same thing!

  3. seriously?? says:

    *say

  4. Loquat tree says:

    There are many who don’t ask these questions, maybe because they know some of the answers?
    This may make them think twice and will put the pressure on some less well run camps to improve.
    Many think a camp is a fast way to make money and put the safety of the children 2nd. There was a near drowning last year. Pay attention parents.