Preparation Points

The summer camp season is fast approaching. Are you prepared? What about the medical responsibilities the camp will have? Are you in compliance with all medical regulations?

In order to prepare your staff and make sure you are ready to provide a safe environment for your campers, it may be beneficial to use this three-step process as a guide.

Step 1

Get accredited.

The American Camping Association has over 300 standards relating to facilities, management, programming, personnel and health and safety.

Accreditation is a voluntary process but becoming compliant with these standards will help assure the quality of the camp and the safety of the campers. Information on the American Camping Association can be obtained at

Some camps have a local or regional body that serves the same purpose, including inspections and certification, which is addressed in Step 2.

Step 2

Make sure you are in compliance with all medical staff regulations and medical standards.

Each state determines regulations for summer camps. This article will refer to the regulations in Massachusetts to provide an example of the three-step process. To obtain your state’s regulations you can use any search engine on the Internet.

In Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health stipulates regulations and then each town’s Board of Health enforces them. This document can be accessed at

The standards include the areas of employment, staff orientation, camp staff ratios, athletic equipment, policies and procedures and medical requirements. This article will focus on medical aspects of the document.

Refer to document 430.159 to gain additional information regarding camp requirements determined by the Massachusetts Board of Health.

According to the Massachusetts Board of Health document 430.159 the health care staff to be provided includes: A designated Massachusetts licensed physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant with pediatric training as the camp’s health care consultant.

The duties include: assist in the development of the health care policy, review and approve any changes in the policy annually, review and approve the first aid training of staff, provide consultation and develop and sign written standing orders to be followed by an on-site health supervisor.

Different health care staffing regulations apply for camps offered for mentally and physically handicapped, for residential camps totaling more than 150 campers, and for medical specialty camps. If these situations apply to your camp the health supervisor has to possess the minimum qualifications of either a registered nurse, a physician, a nurse practitioner, a physicians assistant or a licensed practical nurse, all licensed to practice in Massachusetts.

The local Board of Health must approve the written medical policy developed by the camp. The on-site health supervisor must be at least 18 years of age and hold the minimum of First Aid and safety and CPR certification.

Depending on the nature of your camp, the health care supervisor could be a Massachusetts licensed physician, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse or athletic trainer.

All campers and staff under 18 years of age must have health records on file. These records include information to reach parents or guardians in an emergency, an authorization to treat form signed by a parent or guardian, a written authorization to administer medication to the camper or staff member if necessary, a certificate of immunization, and a medical history and physical exam (specific for residential, trip, travel or sport camps).

Other medical requirements stipulated by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health include injury reports, medical logs and reporting the outbreak of diseases.

In addition, there are specific regulations pertaining to what must be contained in the health file for all camp staff over the age of 18.

Step 3

Hold a Staff Meeting

Policies and procedures regarding medical aspects need to be addressed at staff meetings prior to the beginning of camp. The medical topics should include the camps Emergency Action Plan (EAP), OSHA standards and guidelines, the process for dispensing medications to campers, contents of a medical kit and prevention and management techniques for common injuries and illnesses which may afflict campers.

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