How to Choose a Safe Summer Camp

It’s spring and many California parents are signing their kids up for summer camp. Sports, science, church, camping, general recreation — one for every interest. But, are they safe? How do you know? Can you check? Should you?

It’s not just the Texas and Florida football camps where kids are hospitalized every year when coaches push them too hard. Every camp has risks, but some are vastly more safety conscious than others.

Parents must look beyond the enticing websites and brochures for a safety check.

As a parent of camp-bound kids and an injury lawyer and author, I’ve seen the horrific outcomes when camp safety fails. There are some questions every parent should ask about a summer camp while visiting.

• Is the camp licensed or accredited? Was the license or accreditation ever revoked?

• Who drives and provides transportation, and what is the staff-to-child ratio on buses?

• Can parents visit at any time? Is there phone access?

• What are the coaches’ training and backgrounds?

• Have the coaches and staff had criminal background checks?

• What is the average age of staffmembers and do tasks at the camps match their age and maturity?

• Are lifeguards certified? By whom?

• How many lifeguards are on duty per X number of swimmers?

• How do lifeguards identify and mark non-swimmers?

• How do staffmembers encourage participation?

• What keeps competition at a healthy level?

• How do you handle discipline?

• Is there an anti-bullying policy?

• Who is first aid, CPR, and/or emergency defibrillator trained? Is there a medical staff? What are their qualifications and hours of coverage?

• What is the protocol for emergency situations?

• When do you call the parents?


Chris Faiella speaks on sports and recreation safety, a serious-injury lawyer and the author of the upcoming Unnecessarily Perilous Pastimes, Unexpected Hazards to America’s Youth. For more information visit