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Summer Camp Safety

Don’t take for granted that a summer camp is safe — even if you went there or worked there, or your child went there last year.

Ohio Laws and Regulations for Camps

Ohio summer camps are regulated by the Ohio Department of Health.  A camp is required meet health and safety standards yearly to be licensed. Camps accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA) are automatically approved. Perspective employees must pass a criminal background check, including the Ohio Sex Offender Registry.

Outside of Ohio

States vary significantly in their oversight of summer camp operations. In many states, camps fall under the jurisdiction of the state health department; in others, licensing and permit fees can vary by county or city. For more information on specific regulations and licensing requirements, the American Camp Association has a state by state guide.

Questions to Ask

While most kids return safe and sound from summer camp, take time to ask plenty of questions. You may have other questions relating to specific requirements your child may have, such as medications, allergies, or special needs.

  • Are you licensed by the state?
  • Are you accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA)?
  • Do you conduct interviews and reference checks on all employees (including teen counselors)?
  • Are criminal background checks performed on all your employees?
  • What type of training do you offer your staff? (Including first-aid/CPR)
  • How do you screen for possible sex offenders? (State/national registries)
  • What steps are you taking to decrease the risk of inappropriate touching and sexual abuse at your camp?
  • How do you address bullying at camp?
  • How are water-related activities supervised?
  • What are your policies on vehicle use? Who will be driving? What about seatbelts?
  • Are the cabins safe? Are safety rails used for the top bed of a bunk bed?
  • What are your discipline policies?
  • Have there been serious injuries/deaths at this camp? (Find out what happened what the camp did in response.)

While asking these questions cannot guarantee a child’s safety, we hope that it will enable you to make a more informed decision concerning the camp to which you will entrust your child.

Be safe and have a great summer!