You expect when you send your child to summer camp that they will have a fun memorable time. Maybe they will suffer from a little homesickness. You don’t expect them to be seriously injured, but it can, and does, happen. Injury is the leading cause of death in children; and, according to the CDC, there are an average of 9.2 million nonfatal injuries to children per year. While these don’t all occur at summer camp, thousands of children are injured at summer camp every year.
Most injuries at camp occur during structured camp activities. Ineffective or improper protective equipment, such as damaged lifejackets, is a cause of many injuries. Because there is no state regulation of summer camps in Missouri, it is up to the camp to regulate itself. The protective equipment can withstand a lot of use and abuse in the course of a summer and needs to be inspected regularly and replaced as necessary. Many injuries can be avoided by simply monitoring the equipment and making sure it is used properly.
Proper supervision by staff is a key component in camper safety. It is the responsibility of the directors of the camp to make sure the staff they hire is qualified and properly trained.
In 2011 a fifteen year-old boy drown at a camp in Michigan. The staff had the children swimming in a lake at 10:00 pm in violation rules prohibiting swimming in the dark. It is the duty of the camp to make their staff aware of the rules imposed for the camper’s safety.
In another horrifying case, counselors and lifeguards at a swim camp were completely oblivious to a drowning 4 year-old boy. He lay motionless, floating in the pool for over 8 minutes before the lifeguard finally took notice. Once the boy was pulled from the pool, his life could have been saved had they used proper CPR. However, despite it’s own rule that staff be certified and current in CPR, neither the lifeguard nor the aquatics director who attempted to administer it had that certification.
These cases are not solitary and go to show the importance of a camp that not only implements safety rules, but follows them as well. Having a staff trained in CPR, water safety and lifesaving, disease prevention, as well as areas specific to the camp is vital to the health and welfare of the campers.
While prevention of injury is the goal, children do get hurt. A determination must be made in each individual case as to whether an “accident” was actually the result of someone’s negligence or misconduct. If your child is seriously injured at summer camp, call Tatlow, Gump, Faiella and Wheelen for a free consultation.