Camps have a long history of contributing to positive developmental outcomes for campers and staff. When illness or injury occurs at camp, however, the positive outcomes of the experience can be diminished. Therefore, surveillance and prevention are essential. This national study of camps provided a benchmark for assessing adverse risk factors at camp. The findings have resulted in initial steps to develop training materials to lower the incidence of injury and illness. Other opportunities that might be considered to further the value of surveillance studies might include: continuing to monitor staff as well as campers, assessing the severity of injuries, developing additional training modules, facilitating data collection and analyses in individual camps, exploring the influence of demographics and accreditation, and developing systems to monitor mental and emotional health in camps.
Key Take Away Points
- The American Camp Association (ACA) is applauded for conducting a study to benchmark illness and injuries in resident overnight camps and day camps.
- One of the values in benchmarking illness and injury data is that this information can be used as a basis for developing staff training materials that can be used to prevent future illnesses and injuries.
- Reducing the risks of illness and injury in individual camps requires using an accessible monitoring system to assess risks on a yearly basis.
Karla A. Henderson is a Professor in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management at North Carolina State University. She has served on the Board of Directors of the American Camp Association (ACA) and was Chair of ACA’s Committee for the Advancement of Research and Evaluation. She has served as an ACA Accreditation visitor for over 30 years. Dr. Henderson is author of numerous articles addressing recreation, physical activity, and youth development and is co-author of Camp Counseling (with Joel Meier). Further, she has received the Hedley Dimock Award given by ACA for “significant support and contributions to the advancement of camping.”
Henderson, Karla A.
"Beyond Surveillance toward Prevention of Injury and Illness at Camps,"
Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk: Vol. 4:
2, Article 13.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.library.tmc.edu/childrenatrisk/vol4/iss2/13
A Response To:
Injury and Illness Benchmarking and Prevention for Children and Staff Attending U.S. Camps: Promising Practices and Policy Implications by Barry A. Garst, Linda E. Erceg, and Edward Walton.