Day-Camp Excursions

Day camps are big business with fierce competition. Sports camps, YMCA and YWCA camps, recreation departments, churches, and community camps are all vying for the interest and attention of parents and children. The more quality activities a camp can offer, the more likely it will be a first choice for families.

Water is a big draw for day camps.

What makes a day camp most attractive? Water!

Exactly what the allure is when it comes to water remains a mystery, but there is no doubt it is an attraction for both adults and children.

Water provides a chance to cool off, have fun, and learn new skills. It can be found in a swimming pool (indoor or outdoor), lake, pond, river, splash pad, wading pool, or waterpark. It can even be from a hose, sprinkler system, or collection of buckets and tubs.

And the activities are endless–swim lessons, water exercise, recreational water games, small-craft activities, fishing, science experiments, and waterpark adventures–and all fall under the umbrella of enticement and enjoyment.

If your organization owns a pool or is situated on a natural water source, you probably already have made safe aquatic participation a high priority, and have a risk-management plan in place.

Those who do not own an aquatic venue should consider a field trip to a local pool, waterpark, community park, outdoor water venue, or area splash pad. On the other hand, kids can have just as much fun creating a water experience using a garden hose, Slip ‘n Slide mat, buckets, or tubs.

If you are going to another location, be sure that a safe experience can be provided for campers. Contact that venue ahead of time to ask:

• Are there lifeguards on duty?

• Are the lifeguards currently certified by a national agency? Which agency?

• What is the lifeguard-to-patron ratio?

• Are there separate water areas for non-swimmers as well as for deepwater swimmers?

• Are swimmers required to wear swimsuits and swim caps?

• At what age are swimmers permitted in the water without a parent?

• What is the length of time swimmers can stay in the water?

Make sure your day-camp water venue is safe.

If you are going to a park, community playground splash pad, or other natural water area, visit the venue ahead of time to consider:

• Is the water area such that a child could drown?

• Who will act as lifeguard and assume the responsibility of keeping surveillance on participants?

• How would 9-1-1 be notified if necessary?

• Are there any staff members (such as a park ranger) available during the visit?

• How many staff members are needed for supervision?

• Will children need a change of clothes?

• Are bathroom facilities on site?

• Is there an additional activity charge, such as a fee to rent paddle boats, etc.?

• How clean is the venue? (Check both water and land for human trash, as well as for animal droppings.)

• Do you have an emergency action plan for an activity at a venue away from camp?

• What additional permission forms are needed?

• What safety rules will be needed while at the venue?

If you are staging your own water experience, plan it with the staff members. Consider:

• Planning age-appropriate activities, rather than just “free time.”

• The area where activities will be staged. (Evaluate to ensure it is free from hazards, clean, and an appropriate surface for barefoot activities.)

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