Youth Camps

Back to Basics: Redefining Your Camp Program to Survive in a Down Economy

July 19, 2011

Christina Reddick
Aquatics Coordinator
Florida International University

We are all feeling the crunch of the economy. Families are still in need of child care and youth oriented activities during the summer months but are now much more selective about the program they choose. More than ever in the past two decades, price determines where they enroll their children. With this as the new reality, how can we have camp and turn a profit?

In the past five years, numerous camps have responded to a growing economy by offering to teach every talent or hobby under the sun. Many have added activities and hired instructors in any specialty thought to add value, or rather increase revenue and turn a profit. Some facilities basically outsource their instruction – offering a combination of instruction and traditional day camp activities in unusual places. Examples include the karate camp that offers dance and drama, and the recreation camp that now specializes in robotics and math improvement through ‘hands-on fun’.

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Parent Survival Guide

July 19, 2011

Amy Lanham
Senior Assistant Director
Campus Recreation
University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Good Communication is fundamental when administering any type of programming. It is especially important when that program involves minors. The many challenges in running a great Summer Camp program are compounded by the fact that your primary communication link is not with the participant, but with the parent.

And since the parent has entrusted their most precious possession (their child) to the program staff, good communication becomes vital. Trying to alleviate some of the worry and confusion and making sure all participants have the same information can be a daunting task.

Creating and using a ‘Parent Survival Guide’ may be the answer.

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Parent Open House

July 19, 2011

Amy Lanham
Senior Assistant Director
Campus Recreation
University of Nebraska, Lincoln

One component in the Parent Survival Guide is promoting a Camp Open House held prior to the first camp session.

Since communication plays such a crucial role in the success of the summer camp, offering an open house not only provides a easy enhancement to your program but also begins the relationship building process with patrons. Positive outcomes that come from offering an camp open house include:

  • Brings campers and parent/guardians to the facility to familiarize themselves with activity locations, increase their comfort level and reduce first time anxiety.
  • Allows seasonal staff to meet incoming participants in an open and fun environment.
  • Components of the Parent Survival Guide can be featured at information tables to make sure the information was communicated even if not read by the participants.
  • Provides the opportunity to review the first day documentation checklist with campers to ensure seamless registration on check-in day.

Missing Persons Plan

July 19, 2011

Kyle Hansen
Coordinator for Outdoor Adventures
Campus Recreation
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

An effective ‘Missing Person’ plan is essential in the Campus Recreation setting. Summer Camps, Outdoor Programs and Aquatics are three examples of Campus Recreation programs where missing persons are a constant reality — and unless you have a real plan to deal with this situation, the consequences can be disasterous.

The following plan was adapted from a plan developed for an Adventure Trip at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. It can be adapted for any situation, in any location.

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July 19, 2011


Matt Campbell, J.D.
Assistant Director, Campus Recreation
Marshall University

In a time where most campus recreation programs are laboring to produce revenue, youth programming offers an economically viable and administratively practical option. Most youth programming is run during off-peak times for campus recreation, namely the summer months and holiday breaks when student usage is less. However, youth programming also entails unique and, in most instances, greater legal responsibility – namely the supervision of minors. This article will lay out basic issues from starting a youth program, selecting a staff, and running the program.

The term “minor” itself is a legal term differentiated from child, kid, adolescent, or youth. The term minor is defined as “someone who has yet to reach the legal age at which [they are] responsible for his/her own actions.” West’s Encyclopedia of American Law (2nd ed. 2008). Since a minor is not of sufficient age to be responsible for their own actions that means that the responsibility will shift to some other person or entity to be responsible for them. Under the American common law, this responsibility shifts to the parent/guardian. A legal relationship exists between a parent/guardian and a child where the parent/guardian is responsible for the health, safety, well-being, support, and control of the minor. But what happens when the parent is not in control of the child? This legal relationship then shifts to the provider of care when the provider has stepped into the role of parent, commonly referred to as “in loco parentis.” West’s Encyclopedia of American Law (2nd ed. 2008). The question of whether a person/entity acting in place of the parent has these responsibilities is contingent upon whether the person/entity intended to undertake them. West’s Encyclopedia of American Law (2nd ed. 2008). Under this standard, it would appear that youth programming taking place in a recreation center would qualify as in loco parentis.

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Summer Camps: A Risk Manager’s Perspective on 3 Key Points

April 10, 2011

Joe Risser CPCU, ARM-P
Director, Risk Management
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Summer camps offer a wide range of activities, facilities and services all combined to provide educational, recreational and social opportunities for enjoyment and growth of campers, staff and parents. Doing so successfully involves a wide range of special skills and knowledge in addition to general business and risk management.

Managing risk can involve:
CONTROLLING RISK to prevent losses,
TRANSFERING RISK and losses to others
PAYING FOR LOSSES through insurance or other financing

Let’s keep these techniques in mind as we look at 3 Key Points of managing risks in the operations of summer camps:

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