Each year, camps in the U.S. employ thousands of staff members who are under the age of eighteen. The federal laws that provide regulations for child and youth labor are contained in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). (There is no seasonal-worker exemption from the child and youth labor provisions of the FLSA.) In addition, all states have enacted child and youth employment laws. Where the state and federal laws differ, employers must comply with the higher standard.
In June 2005, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) established new guidelines for the employment of lifeguards. One example of the changes is that fifteen-year-olds may no longer serve as lifeguards on natural bodies of water (such as your camp lake). In addition, those under the age of sixteen are not permitted to enter or work in any chemical storage areas, including any areas where filtration and chlorinating systems are housed. This is an important new restriction, because some camps may be using fifteen-year-old, certified lifeguards in training programs — such as CIT programs. For details of these new guidelines, visit:
With these changes comes an important reminder for all camps that it is critical that you understand and abide by all child and youth labor laws. Now is the time to review the regulations relevant to your situation and to plan for your 2006 budget accordingly. Important resources of information are:
- U.S. Department of Labor: Wage and Hour Division — www.wagehour.dol.gov  or call the toll-free help line, 866-4US-WAGE (866-487-9243)
- Your State Department of Labor — www.dol.gov/esa/contacts/state_of.htm 
Originally published in the 2005 Fall issue of The CampLine.