Resource Library

Message From the American Camp Association

Kids want action! Excitement! Cool activities! New stuff! Parents want safety.
They want kids to have fun, but they also expect you to deliver EVERYTHING in the camp brochure. Directors (and boards and owners) also want camp to be a safe experience.

Developmental psychologists and youth development specialists would tell us that risk and challenge are important developmental dimensions — important to the positive growth and development of youth.

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Just as many camps are celebrating their 100th anniversaries with growing equity in real estate and capital fund/endowment accounts, our industry is also facing the consequences of a legal system spun out of control. With nearly 70,000 lawsuits filed every day in American courts, juries are awarding judgments for amounts that were unheard of a decade ago. These unprecedented awards often are based on legal theories that were also unheard of even a decade ago. These, in turn, are forcing many business owners into costly out-of court-settlements just to avoid the cost of defending a lawsuit.

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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.

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The American Canoe Association has released Critical Judgment, Understanding and Preventing Canoe and Kayak Fatalities, a report examining canoe- and kayak-related fatalities over the five-year period from 1996 to 2000.

For everyone concerned with paddlesport safety, the report provides vital information to better understand the risks of paddling, the nature of canoe- and kayak-related accidents, and the population most at risk of being involved in a fatal canoe- or kayak-related accident.

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Laws and regulations create a variety of risks for camp directors to manage. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) presents an interesting risk management challenge. The Act was passed in 1990 to give protection against discrimination to individuals with disabilities. ADA is similar to other national civil rights acts, which prohibited discrimination based upon race, sex, national origin, age, and religion. Recently, some camp professionals raised questions about camps and Title III of ADA as part of the risk identification step in the risk management process.

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Medical emergencies that require immediate life-saving prescription drugs to be administered by a nonlicensed professional create unique problems for camps. Some medical emergencies (like anaphylactic shock or a severe asthma attack) can be life-threatening unless treated immediately with prescription drugs. Yet state laws often prohibit a non-licensed professional from dispensing the needed medication.

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Playground Safety
Published Date:

Each year, more than 200,000 children visit hospital emergency rooms because of playground injuries. Approximately fifteen children die each year as a result of playground equipment-related incidents. Many camps provide playground equipment — for both summer camp programs and year-round family and group use. As leaders in the area of providing safe and nurturing environments for children, camps should be role models in playground safety. The National Standards Commission is proposing a new standard on playground safety for the 2006 revision of the ACA-Accreditation Standards.

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On April 20, the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued final rules revising the definitions of who is exempt from the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act as a "white collar" employee for the first time in more than fifty years.

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More and more camps are incorporating challenge courses into their activities offered to campers. As a tool for group development, personal development, and some good plain fun, the challenge course fits well in the camp environment.

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Based on its investigation of two deaths caused by carbon dioxide (CO2) canisters flying off paintball guns, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is issuing a new warning. Paintball gun users should be advised that the brass or nickel-plated valve that connects directly to the canister must not be unscrewed from the canister when removing the canister assembly from a paintball gun. This valve must stay secured and rotate with the CO2 canister.

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E.g., 2020-02-16
E.g., 2020-02-16