Just For Kids Inc., a nonprofit organization based in Fairbanks, has issued a checklist for parents planning to send their children to summer camp.
The organization recommends that parents personally inspect personnel records, policies, structures and grounds of a camp.
"Even if a camp is licensed/ certified doesn't mean it is safe," writes the organization.
The following is a partial list of questions to ask and areas to inspect before sending children to a camp:
Records -- Do all staff members have criminal background checks on file, current CPR and First-aid card copies on file? Does the camp have a food safety and sanitation permit? Are campers required to fill out medical record and immunization forms? Do all staff and campers have a current turburculosis test?
Policies -- What are the camp's policies for emergencies, medication, activities, behavior and discipline, staff training? What is the camp staff to camper ratio for activities?
Structures and Grounds -- Look around the camp for dangerous objects and chemicals. Where are cleaning supplies kept?
Kitchen -- Does food look fresh? Is kitchen clean and organized, with adequately cold food storage? Are there signs of bugs or rodents? Is water accessible to campers at all times? What is the menu? What are scheduled meal times?
Dining Area -- Is it clean and organized? Is there seating for all campers? Is there a fire alarm in the dining area? How are meals served?
Cabins -- Are all cabins equipped with fire alarm, fire extinguisher and carbon monoxide detector? Are cabins adequately heated and ventilated? Are beds safe, clean and sturdy? How many counselors stay in cabins with campers? Do counselors teach wild animal safety?
Bathroom -- Is there at least one toilet to each 15 campers? Are bathrooms clean? Outhouses should have no odor. Who is responsible for cleaning, stocking bathrooms? Is there a sink and antibacterial soap to wash hands? Are there separate bathrooms and showers for boys and girls? How many showers are available? Are showers cleaned regularly?
Activity equipment -- Do counselors supervise all activities? Is equipment in good repair?
Animals -- Do animals look clearn and healthy? Coats should be shiny and hooves should have no cracks. Do animals have access to water at all times? Are animals friendly? Are stables and barns clean with little or no manure? Is feed kept clean and dry? Is hay green? Do campters feed animals?
Waterfront -- Are the beach and grounds clean? Is the lake or river clean and clear? Has water been tested? Pools should have chlorine level tested every hour, as campers can become dangerously sick if there is not enough chlorine in pools. Is there a lifeguard or at least two trained wathcers on duty at all times? Is safety equipment in good condition? Does the camp have a method to remove leeches?
JFK Inc. recommends that parents personally observe the camp grounds and assess the answers to each of these questions before sending their children to a camp.
It also may be useful to ask for recommendations from other families whose children have attended the camp and to ask friends and neighbors what they know about the camp.
For more information on JFK, Inc, or to make a contribution to the organization, write Just For Kids Inc., P.O. Box 58617, Fairbanks, AK 99711 or call (907) 490-6722.
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