Notes from the Director

March 7, 2011

During the snowy weather of February, it’s too cold to clean cabins and mow grass, so it’s always the time that the national and local camping associations.  Scott and Kile get to learn about new games, Lori and Cheryl get to shop for camp store goodies and I get to see all the current updates coming out of the legislature in Austin and out of the insurance industry nationwide.   I’m guessing that these safety standards and revised regulations are as important to you as parents that all those fun and games!

One of the most interesting things I saw at the state convention in Kerrville was a study released this winter by the American Camping Association on safety, injuries and illness at summer camp.  They gathered data over the past 5 years and really looked hard at what impacted camp from an injury and illness standpoint.  It was interesting in that someone finally gathered some real world statistics from our camp world, and the camp world really stacks up well!

We take great pride in setting high standards for safety and working with the staff to live up to them.  Our medical staff each summer work steadily to keep the stomach bugs, sore throats and swimmer’s ears to a minimum.  Hopefully as a parent it’s reassuring to know that there is industry-wide work going on to help us make it even safer.

As you’d guess, you can’t have 250 boys running around outdoors without a few bumps and bruises, but it was reassuring to see the confirmation that it is boys being boys more so than boys being campers who get injured.  The numbers below, bear it out.  29% of all camp injuries happen walking, standing, cleaning, sitting and sleeping.  Only 21% playing sports and games!

Occurrence of Injuries by Activity:

Playing a sport/game 21%
Other non-sport activity 14%
Sedentary (sleeping, sitting)10%
Walking 10%
Routine action (hygiene, standing, etc.) 9%
Water-related (non-swimming) 9%
Running/jogging 8%
Horse-related 4%
Prohibited activity/horseplay 4%

Another thing the study did was to quantify camp safety versus time.  They added “Camper Hours” compared to routine bumps and bruises and contrasted that with “Football Hours” and “Soccer Hours”.   Camp wins hands down.   And more curiously, boys sports are safer than girls sports.  Another reason we don’t do girl stuff around here!

In terms of overall risk of injury, camp is as safe or safer than many activities that parents choose for their children.  Just a curiosity.
Youth Activity Injury Rates** (sports injury rates come from the CDC)

Resident Camp 0.50 injuries per 1000 hours.
Day Camp 0.44
Boys’ Football 4.09
Boys’ Wrestling 2.35
Girls’ Soccer 2.31
Boys’ Soccer 1.98
Girls’ Basketball 1.80
Boys’ Basketball 1.58
Girls’ Volleyball 1.24
Girls’ Softball 1.15
Boys’ Baseball 1.03
In summary, the study reinforces what we’ve always known at camp.  Standards, policies and supervision go a long way to making each summer great by keeping each camper safe.

A fringe benefit of the study provides some good parent pointers to help make the summer a little safer.

Parent Recommendations per the study:

A Healthy Camp Starts at Home!  A healthy camp really does start at home. Here are some things you can do to help assure your child has a healthy summer camp experience.

1. When children show signs of illness, keep them home, come a day or two late. This greatly reduces the spread of illness at camp.

2. Teach your child to sneeze in his sleeve, and to wash his hands often at camp.

3. Closed-toed shoes are a requirement for activities such as sports and hiking. This will help avoid slips, trips, and falls, which could cause injuries. Stress to your child the importance of wearing closed-toed shoes to prevent a toe, foot, and/or ankle injury.

4. Fatigue often plays a part in injuries. If children are going to resident camp, explain that camp is not like a sleepover. Explain to your child that he should try to go to sleep on time!

5. Don’t forget to send sunscreen, and instruct your child how to use sunscreen.

6. Please send a reusable water bottle. Your child can refill it frequently during their camp stay. Staying hydrated is very important in the summer.

Although Spring Break is around the corner and we all seem to be running from Tennis to Soccer to Track and back again, but if you have time, you can read the report in it’s entirety (good luck with that).

Have a great Spring Break.  Be safe.

Life is Good.  Camp is Better.


Written by Blake Smith

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