Access all of ACA's updated severe weather resources on the Severe Weather Resources page.
This summer brought forest fires, extreme heat, storms resulting in extended power outages, and flooding — all of which could potentially result in the need for evacuation of a camp site. Would you be ready?
Below is an initial list of things to consider, as it is important to have a system in place that can be activated immediately. During the “crisis” is not the time to plan!
- Who makes the decision to leave? Sometimes evacuation is mandated by the authorities, and sometimes it is in the best interest of the camp to conduct a voluntary evacuation when conditions threaten.
- To what location would the camp evacuate? What would prompt the decision to send campers home vs. having them “wait it out” at an alternate location? What amenities must be available at the alternate location? Consider having more than one potential site!
- How would you transport campers/stuff/food/equipment/ belongings? Again, consider the need to have more than one provider.
- What all do you take with you? What equipment? Which personal belongings? Who is responsible for what?
- By what methods would you communicate? Who will be the key “voice” of the camp? Consider setting up an office at an alternate location (with Internet access) to use as a communication base. What messages are shared? What message should staff share? Consider having individuals not currently working at camp (alumni, board members, etc.) serve as camp representatives when parents want to talk to a “real person.”
- Make sure to have a conversation with your insurance company prior to the season! What is your coverage? What is included? What triggers business interruption insurance (if you have it)?
Resources to check out now in preparation for the 2013 season include:
- ACA’s Crisis Communications Toolkit: www.ACAcamps.org/members/toolkit/crisiscomm 
- Wildfire Evacuations: www.ACAcamps.org/hottopics/wildfire-evacuations 
- Responding to Natural Disasters: www.ACAcamps.org/news/responding-natural-disasters 
- Prepare for a Hurricane (or other disaster): www.ACAcamps.org/content/top-ten-prepare-hurricane-or-other-disaster 
- “Crisis Response Training — Coaching Non-Counseling Staff to Respond to Emergencies”: www.ACAcamps.org/campmag/1005/crisis-response-training 
- “Forest Fire — A Crisis Reality for Camps”: www.ACAcamps.org/campmag/cm023forest 
- American Red Cross — Plan and Prepare: www.redcross.org/prepare 
- Federal Emergency Management Agency — Plan, Prepare, Mitigate: www.fema.gov/plan-prepare-mitigate 
- CDC — Emergency Preparedness and Response: www.bt.cdc.gov/ 
Contributed by Rhonda Mickelson