Since 2005, the American Camp Association (ACA) has relied upon the legal expertise of Charles R. (Reb) Gregg, Catherine Hansen-Stamp and others to help organizations understand many of the legal complexities faced by camp programs. Gregg and Hansen-Stamp have authored thirty-one articles for The CampLine. Many of the topics they — and others —have tackled come from the emerging issues identified through the work of the ACA Camp Crisis Hotline.1
As seasonal camps and other youth-serving organizations gear up for their upcoming programs, ACA is sharing the most popular legal articles from the body of work of The CampLine. Be reminded that the articles contain general information only and are not intended to provide specific legal advice. Camps and other organizations should consult with their own licensed attorney regarding application of relevant state and federal law as well as considerations regarding their specific business or operation. Below are the most frequently accessed articles, along with an excerpt from the article.

Are You Ready For the E-Sign Revolution?

Charles R. Gregg and Catherine Hansen-Stamp. 
In this article, we focus on the use and enforceability of electronic contracts — the importance of understanding the issues, and the detriment to your camp if you don’t.

Contracting with User Groups/Rental Groups, Revisited

Charles R. Gregg and Catherine Hansen-Stamp. 
We will discuss issues pertaining to a camp’s arrangement to allow third parties to use its premises. In a typical transaction, a user group may use all or a part of the camp’s premises and staff, but the primary responsibility for the well-being of the group remains with the group and its leaders. Your camp will owe certain duties to a visitor. 

Electronic Communication - Legal and Practical Issues to Consider in the Information Age

Charles R. Gregg and Catherine Hansen-Stamp 
Camps and outdoor programs are now intimately familiar with the world-wide Web. Your organization undoubtedly has a Web site, reaching out to anyone around the world who has access to the Internet. However, with the onset of this information explosion come many questions and issues—legal and practical. How accurate is the “message” your camp relays through your Web site and electronic communication? What is the effect of an “electronic signature” when you are dealing with parents and their minor children many miles away? What are a camp’s obligations when it comes to electronic communication sent and received by campers while at camp or in a camp-sponsored chat room or after the camp session? 

Electronic Medical Records in the Camp Setting: HIPAA Considerations

Tracey C. Gaslin RN, PhD, CRNI, CPNP; and Stuart T. Weinberg, MD, FAAP
One of the pervasive considerations with electronic medical records (EMR) is protecting the privacy of the individual. Electronic medical records offer the opportunity for security, auditing, and tracking disclosures that is often not possible with paper records. With current technology, we have the capability to send electronic medical records to collaborating medical partners, health plan administrators, ancillary care providers, and a variety of other organizations that use patient data. How do we protect this data? How do we address security of our electronic systems? These questions were some of the initial concerns with the creation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996.

HIPAA and Camps — Compliance Required?

Charles R. Gregg and Catherine Hansen-Stamp
HIPAA is the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act, first passed by the U.S. Congress in 1996 and administered and regulated by the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The law and its associated regulations are complex. We will discuss the applicability to camps.

Medical Marijuana: Current Issues for Camps

Charles R. Gregg and Catherine Hansen-Stamp
Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have now enacted laws to legalize medical marijuana. Voters in Colorado and Washington took the movement further, endorsing the sale of marijuana without a prescription for recreational purposes. At the same time, however, the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) makes the use, possession, etc., of marijuana (and other Schedule I drugs) generally illegal. Under the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution, the federal CSA preempts conflicting state laws. The focus of our article will be use by adult staff and participants, but we will also touch on use by minors. Our effort here is to highlight some of the current issues, raise your awareness, and give you insight into ways to prepare for these issues before they arise in your camp community.

Releases and Related Issues: Revisited

Charles R. Gregg and Catherine Hansen-Stamp
Agreements (variously called “releases,” “waivers,” and “exculpatory agreements”) have become more important in recent years, for several reasons. Camp activities and environments are expanding beyond the traditional offerings. Campers (and staff) present new challenges with regard to medical, learning, and behavioral issues. And our society is, unhappily, more inclined to “take it to court” than to discuss or negotiate (or forgive!), when the bad event occurs. These and other circumstances have complicated the issue of the duty of care owed to a camper and his or her family and increased the importance of protection from claims. In this article we revisit releases, addressed by us in previous ACA articles. 

She Thinks She’s Pregnant — What Do We Do?

Charles R. Gregg and Catherine Hansen-Stamp 
The focus of this article is a minor camper’s legal right to privacy and confidentiality regarding information the camper reveals to camp medical staff while seeking advice or treatment pertinent to pregnancy or other sexual activity. (In most states, minors are those under eighteen years of age.) These issues include contraception, sexually transmitted diseases, suspected pregnancy, and the management (including termination) of a known pregnancy. The core of the child’s privacy right is the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and many states have equivalent state constitutional provisions. The laws vary significantly from state to state, but are generally designed to encourage a child to seek help in circumstances where he or she might not, if the parents were informed.

Single-Gender Camps and Hiring Employees: Is Gender an Appropriate Hiring Criterion?

Michael Blickman
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently dealt with a gender discrimination lawsuit involving a woman’s shelter that rejected an applicant for employment solely because he was male. The issue presented in this case has created renewed interest in the extent to which the law permits an employer to take an applicant’s gender into account in making a hiring decision. In other words, when is it legal for an employer to discriminate?

Understanding a Camp’s Right to Search

Charles R. Gregg and Catherine Hansen-Stamp
Our topic is the search of a camper’s or camp employee’s belongings. This is not a U.S. Constitution, Fourth Amendment search and seizure issue, or a 14th Amendment right to privacy issue as no governmental authority is addressed. We are dealing, rather, with a matter of private agreements and expectations among the camp, its families and employees.

When Behavior Becomes a Legal Issue

Charles R. Gregg and Catherine Hansen-Stamp
Behavior issues continue to be a prominent and growing concern of camp managers. Today’s campers and staff present new challenges. They come to camp accustomed to being tightly supervised and managed at home and school, medicated for a variety of disorders, exhausted, and immersed in a virtual, digital world — with little outdoor adventure experience or contact with the natural world. And the focus is not entirely on campers and staff. Parents are requiring more and more attention as they demand a larger role in the lives of their children while at camp. This article will discuss setting expectations with respect to the behavior of campers, their families, and staff.
Michael A. Blickman is a partner with the Indianapolis law firm of Ice Miller, where he also serves as chairman of the firm’s Labor and Employment Section.
Charles R. (Reb) Gregg is a practicing attorney in Houston, Texas, specializing in outdoor recreation matters and general litigation.
Catherine Hansen-Stamp is a practicing attorney in Golden, Colorado. She consults with and advises recreation and adventure program providers on legal liability and risk management issues. 
Tracey Gaslin RN, PhD, CRNI, CPNP is a professor and a certified pediatric nurse practitioner specializing in camp nursing, pediatrics, and children with bleeding disorders. She is currently the medical director at The Center for Courageous Kids and serves as the President for the Association of Camp Nurses.
Stuart T. Weinberg, MD, FAAP, is an assistant professor in the Departments of Biomedical Informatics and Pediatrics at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Dr. Weinberg has over forty-five years of experience with the camp community as a camper, staff, board member, volunteer, and consultant, and seventeen years of clinical experience as a pediatric resident, hospitalist, and outpatient clinician.
Compiled by Rhonda Mickelson and Susan E. Yoder
1. The ACA Camp Crisis Hotline is a 24 hour a day service to all ACA camps. The Hotline serves as a resource for camps in crisis and provides callers the opportunity to talk through their crisis with a trained third-party. While the hotline is not a medical nor legal “expert” call line – it can help you think through your issues and discuss options. 800-573-9019.