Parks and Rec director, Jason Schaitz shares 10 tips to ensure safe swimming at camp.
Swimming and water activities at camp with friends can be a highlight of the summer. However, swimming can also be very dangerous and should be taken extremely seriously. It only takes a few seconds of complacency for a major incident to occur.
Here are 10 tips to ensure safe swimming at camp:
1. Never swim anywhere without certified lifeguards. You don’t want to put more liability on your camp by swimming in areas that are not guarded.
2. Counselors should always be actively supervising in the water or on the banks in view of the kids. Hanging out at a picnic table or laying out in the sun while your kids swim is unacceptable. Even with lifeguards on duty, counselors need to be active in the water.
3. Swim test every child before allowing them to get in the water. Use a system like wrist banding kids to identify their swim level or if they cannot swim at all. Provide alternative activities for non-swimmers and make sure they are away from the water at all times.
4. Always review swim rules with campers before getting in the water and hold them accountable if they misbehave. Use the buddy system to have campers keep tabs on each other in and around the water.
5. Always try to swim in areas where there is high visibility in the water such as a pool, spring or clear lake. If you cannot see the bottom, keep swimming confined to shallow water.
6. Do not allow horseplay in or around the water. Kids shouldn’t be touching each other in the water, hanging on each other or counselors, jumping in shallow water, running on the pool deck, etc.
7. Avoid crowded swim areas. The more campers and non-campers mixed together in high density swim areas will exponentially increase the chances of an incident.
8. Swim in areas with just your camp group when possible. Anytime you can avoid mixing your camp with the general public, the better your experience will be and the easier it will be to manage.
9. Don’t go on beach trips, even when lifeguards are on duty. Swimming at the beach in the ocean, intercoastal waterway, or large lake brings on many more dangers that are out of your control. Things like current, waves, water depth, water clarity, sea life, and the sheer size of the swim area make it more likely an incident may occur.
10. Run coordinated activities in the water when possible, but keep them in shallow areas. Games like Sharks and Minnows, Marco Polo, and Relay Races are great ways to keep kids engaged and in a manageable area to supervise.
All counselors should be certified in CPR and basic First Aid along with proper training on supervision in and around the water. Have an emergency action plan in place in case an incident does occur. If your staff is well trained, equipped for swimming at camp and takes swimming seriously, you will have a fun, engaging and incident-free experience while swimming at camp.
For more resources, visit The Summer Camp Source website.