This is a guest post written by Jarett Wegner.
Running a summer camp comes with great responsibility; keeping your campers safe. Being located on the beach, we take extra measures to make sure our campers stay safe in and out of the water. And after being around for over 20 years, we’ve learned a trick or two for making sure the highest level of safety is maintained.
Check out these 8 beach camp safety tips to make sure your campers stay safe.
Maintain a 6:1 Camper to Counselor Ratio
With so many activities going on, having at least one counselor for every six campers will help children stay safe, hydrated, and protected from the sun by helping them/reminding them to apply sunscreen at the correct times.
If your campers go in the water (which they inevitably will, it’s a beach camp!), drop the ratio down to 2 or 3 campers per counselor. This will ensure that children are constantly being watched while playing in the water.
Go Over Camp Rules Daily
You are likely doing this one already, but it’s worth mentioning.
Go into every day like there are completely new campers that have never attended before. It’s easy to get caught up in the motions and skip through some of the rules, but this can lead to accidents.
Be sure to go over camp rules thoroughly every day so that all campers know where the camp boundaries are, where hydration stations are, the protocol for going to the bathrooms, etc. We like to take this time to introduce our “bathroom runners”; our staff (at least one male and one female) that chaperone campers to and from the bathrooms.
Have Ample Shade For Campers
Being in the sun for long periods of time can increase the chances of sunburn and dehydration. By offering areas of the camp that are shaded, you are allowing campers to take a break from the rays and recover.
An easy way to get campers excited to be in the shade is to host games and activities under your tents. That way campers can have sunscreen reapplied and rehydrate while not missing out on camp fun. We provide multiple 10’ x 10’ cabana tents for campers and use them for various games, arts & crafts, and hydration stations.
Use a Broad Spectrum Sunscreen
When your campers aren’t in the shade, they’ll be exposed to the sun’s rays. Applying normal sunscreen isn’t effective enough to keep them safe all day long. And the SPF rating on those sunscreens is only referencing the amount of protection from UVB rays (the rays that cause sunburn). But it doesn’t mean that your campers will fully be protected from UVA rays (which can cause skin cancer). Broad spectrum sunscreen will protect your campers from both UVA and UVB rays.
It’s also important to note that SPF 30 sunscreens protect from 97% of UVB rays and SPF 45 protects from 98%. Anything above that doesn’t provide a noticeable amount of additional protection. When selecting a sunscreen, a broad spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 will be sufficient for protecting your campers from the sun.
Hire CPR Certified Staff (Or Get Them Certified)
A highly effective way to increase the safety of your camp is to make sure ALL counselors are CPR certified. You never know what might happen, and by having everyone certified, you are increasing the chances of the camper receiving care as quickly as possible.
If counselors are not already pre-certified, make sure that they attend and receive CPR certification.
Have A System For Your Staff To Follow
Having an agenda pre-made for every day that includes games and activities, meal times, sunscreen application times/checks, etc. will not only make things run smoother but make sure campers are being taken care of properly.
Since every child will want different things, we like to keep a looser structure on the day while making multiple callouts to make sure everyone is staying hydrated, being fed, and having sunscreen reapplied. These callouts will make sure the essential items are being checked off the list but will also allow the rest of the activities to be controlled by the campers.
Communicate With The Lifeguards Regularly
Lifeguards are the trained professionals when it comes to water safety, so being in contact with them will allow you to update your campers quickly if anything is going on in the water.
Whether it be rip currents or dangerous sea life, lifeguards will most likely be the first to spot the danger. Make sure you are maintaining frequent contact to help keep everyone safe.
Have A Camp Uniform
Over the years this has made keeping our camp safe much easier. By having a uniform, we are able to quickly spot campers to make sure they aren’t wandering off on their own. We use bright blue Fitness by the Sea branded rash guards to help spot our campers (and all of our counselors wear red). The rash guards have a UPF protection rating, which gives them an extra layer of protection from the sun.
On the camper’s first day they receive a rash guard and are asked to wear them at all times while attending the camp.
Hopefully, these 8 tips will help to shed some light on the key safety practices of a beach camp. Wherever your camp is located, utilizing these tips will help keep your campers safe and make sure things run smoothly.
Leave a comment below to share what tips you have for maintaining a safe beach camp!
Jarett is the media outreach leader for Fitness by the Sea. In his spare time, you can catch him at the beach or playing the latest video game.