March 6, 2009
Children's Summer Day Camps – Parents Should Be Pro-active
Whether parents have already selected a summer day camp for their children, or are thinking about camp for the future, the Nassau County Department of Health gives the following advice to parents. They should:
- Visit a summer camp before and during the camp season.
- Talk to other parents of campers who have previously attended the camp.
- Ask if the camp is in compliance with County regulations.
In addition, parents should get answers to the following questions. These are the same questions the Health Department asks before inspecting a campsite and issuing a permit to operate:
- What are the qualifications of the camp director and counselors?
- How are campers supervised, including discipline policies?
- What is the counselor to camper ratio?
- Is there medical coverage?
- When are parents notified if children become ill or injured?
- Is a doctor or nurse in residence or on call for campers at all times?
- Does the camp keep medical records for campers as required by law?
- What are camp procedures for dealing with complaints of abuse?
- Are camp facilities and activities safe?
- Are campers always supervised while in the water?
- Are campers tested for swimming abilities before participating in swimming activities?
- What are the safety guidelines for swimming, boating or canoeing?
- How are activities in craft shops and sports activities supervised?
- Do mature counselors supervise out-of-camp trips?
- Are there periodic fire drills for campers and staff?
- Are the camp's location and facilities protected against natural hazards such as cliffs, sandpits, or roads and highways?
- Are good health practices observed in the camp kitchens and dining areas?
The Health Department also inspects the camps at least twice a season to assure that all physical facilities are properly operated and maintained, and that adequate supervision exists to provide a healthy and safe environment in accordance with the New York State Sanitary Code. It also investigates reports of serious incidents of injury, illness and all allegations of abuse or maltreatment and, when requested, provides parents or guardians of prospective campers an opportunity to review inspection reports and required plans.
Each year the Nassau County Department of Health oversees the issuance of permits for approximately 150 camps, which will host in excess of 32,000 children. A summer day camp needs a permit to operate if it is occupied by children less than 16 years of age between June 1st and September 15th and is primarily for the purpose of outdoor organized group activities.
For information about summer day camps, call the Nassau County Department of Health, Office of Recreational Facilities at (516) 227-9717 weekdays from 9:00 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.