Youth Camps: Course Outline

WEEK 1: Structure and Philosophy

a) Camp Assessment
What is your camp philosophy?

  •   Fun vs. revenue generator vs. community relations – or combo?

What Type of Camp Will/Do You Offer?

  • Types of camps
    Day camp vs. Week camp?
    Residence component?
    Sport; recreation activity?
    Pure Academic camp (e.g. Mini-University) or activity camp with academic component?
  • Program offerings
    Age Groups/population served
    How young/ how old?
    How do you package offerings (e.g. pool time for all?)

b) Camp Operational Structure
Staffing

  • Essential Positions
    Director
    Counselors
    Counselor in Training Programs
    Specialty staff
  • Qualifications
    Skill set, credentials
    Age Requirements
    Specialty Areas
  • Job Descriptions for all staff: Six Key Elements
    Position Title; Supervising Position; General Responsibilities; Specific Responsibilities; Essential Functions; Qualifications
  • Guidelines for Hiring
    Applicant Pool
    Interview Process
  • Monitoring Performance
    Performance Appraisal
    Guidelines for Firing

c) Camp Program Audit

WEEK 2: Camps Management

a) Data Collection

  • Collecting, securing and storing documents
    Electronic vs. paper
    Securing confidential documents e.g. medical docs
    Storing documents e.g. consent forms; permission forms
    How long do you store material?
  • Participant Documentation
    Medical Information Form
    Allergies; other Medical Issues
    Medications and medication scheduling
    Plan for storing and dispensing meds
    Who reviews forms?
    Security of Forms
    Tie-in with Emergency Response Plan
  • Medical Issues
    Handling medications

b) Supervision and Instruction

  • Ratios
    What is your camper to counselor ratio?
    Investigate state/provincial guidelines for childcare.
    American Camping Association standards
    Are ratios different for camp setting or activity offered?
  • Protocol in program area
    Example of waterfront activities, what is expected of staff
    What is staff role with ‘expert/certified’ staff at activity site
  • Pre and post Camp supervision
  • Buddy Checks/participant matching
    Supervision during transition times between camp activities
    Lunch coverage
    Awareness of camp group size and rest of staff in relation to you
  • Lesson plans
    Curriculum with natural progression for camp activities

c) Training

  • Pre-camp training/orientation
  • In-service Training
  • Sexual Harassment etc.
  • Emergency Response

d) Parent Communication

  • Types of Communication
    Initial program information (marketing)
    Sign offs
    ‘Client’ information (e.g. ‘Parents Survival Guide’)
    Medical Insurance requirements
    Parental sign off
    Parental consent/ waiver
    In case of medical emergency
    Photo permission
    Special instructions (e.g. medications; behavior)
    Permission to dispense medications

e) Program Ideas & Resources

  • Cool Program Ideas
  • Staff Manuals
  • Checklists (e.g. Registration Day; Sign in/out; Body Counts etc.)

d) Camp Management Audit

WEEK 3: Managing Risk; Day Trips

a) Emergency Response Plan

  • Procedures in place?
    Central facility role; camp staff role
  • Role of Clinic/ AT’s (if applicable)
  • Who needs to be trained in what?
  • Emergency equipment
    First Aid kits (location and stocking)
    AED machinesMissing camper procedures
  • Dealing with the elements (e.g. heat related issues for campers and staff)
  • Emergency Communication protocols
    University; parents
  • Accident reporting
    Accident Report Forms
  • Follow-up procedures
    University; parents; camper

b) Security Issues

  • Sign in-out
  • Background checks
  • Data collection

c) Facilities & Equipment
Are Facilities and Equipment appropriate, adequate, safe?

  • Age appropriateness
    Modifying facilities for different age groups
  • Shared usage
    Ensuring facilities are safely split into sections for shared activity use
  • Specific use of area
    Using specific use facilities for activities not designed to handle
  • Attractive nuisances and Facility hazards eliminated
    Ensuring these are identified and isolated (e.g. trampolines)
  • Inspections of Facilities and equipment
    Implementing an inspection protocol and inspection frequency
  • Equipment checkout procedures
  • Purpose of product/manufacture guidelines for use
    Modification of equipment
  • Emergency equipment in place (covered in more detail in ERP section)
  • Communication Equipment in place and functional
    Walkie-talkies; cell phones; megaphones
    Staff communication protocols

d) Human Resources Issues

  • Insurance
    Camp; participant, travel, outside contractor
    University insurance requirements?
  • Review Labour Laws
    Age requirements
  • Volunteers
  • Harassment
  • Other HR Issues e.g. Social Networking

e) Camp Risk Management Audit

f) Day Trips

  • Field trips
  • Vehicles; drivers; passengers
  • Travel policies
  • Supervision
  • Emergency response plan (en route/off-site)
  • Planning Tools

WEEK 4: Behavioral Issues

Behavioral Issues

1. Camper Growth and Development
a. Developmental Characteristics of Children by Stages
b. Behavioral Characteristics of Children by Stages
c. Special considerations at camp

2. Desirable Behavior
a. Appropriate behavior

3. Undesirable Behavior
a. Inappropriate behavior

4. Reasons for Undesirable Behavior
a. Why children act out
b. How to avoid it

5. Behavior Management
a. Prevention
i. Setting expectations
ii. Creating environment of respect
iii. Give youth tools to succeed
b. Intervention
i. Strategies for redirecting undesirable behavior
c. Consequences & Policy
i. Appropriate consequences
ii. Inappropriate consequences

6. Bullying Prevention and Management
a. What is bullying?
b. What skills do kids need?

7. Accident/Incident Report Forms
a. Need to document
b. Need to communicate
c. When to call home?
d. When is a child’s behavior outside of the scope of your care?

Our department profited greatly by having multiple staff go through the online course. We have long felt that risk management best practices are so pervasively important to all our programs and facilities that it only made sense that our staff members with unique oversight and management of these areas take part in the course. The take-away from this approach has been a unified understanding of the nature of risk management of campus recreation on a macro level with a much more refined appreciation of application within their areas of specialization.

George M. Brown

Director of University Recreation
The University of Alabama

For more information on our Online Courses,
contact us now!