University Camp Challenge #4 – Potential Risks

sports injury.compressed[If you’re just joining us, please visit our introduction to the ACTIVE C.A.M.P. Initiative series and Challenge #1: Compliance, Challenge #2: Accounting & Finance, and Challenge #3: Marketing & Branding.]

The moment a child walks onto your campus and says goodbye to mom and dad, you are given a supreme responsibility – the well-being of each and every camper in your program. You’ll protect them at all costs, but you know that even when you do everything right, sometimes, things can go wrong.

Ankles sprain. Kids fall. Teenagers break rules. And it’s those moments – the moments you can’t predict – that you need to be the most prepared for. That’s why the “P” in the ACTIVE C.A.M.P. Initiative is Potential Risk.


The inevitability of risk at camp is well-understood, from a legal perspective. In fact, that risk is considered to be one of the benefits of camp. In the event of a problem, the law is on your side if:

  • Compliance to all prescribed industry guidelines is in place
  • Every reasonable safety precaution has been taken
  • Complete protection hasn’t been overpromised (these words can be used against you)

That said, make sure you’re taking these vital steps to protect yourself, your staff, and the university before, during and after camp:


  • Appropriate waivers must be signed, collected and accessible for every participating camper before he/she steps foot at your university. Want to make sure you have your bases covered? Check out our 11 Most Common Camp Waivers.
  • Camper’s medical information must be collected, stored for easy access, and disseminated to the appropriate staff members.
  • Staff and volunteers need formal training for their roles as well as instruction on every camp procedure and policy.


  • Just-In-Time special needs notifications must be available to appropriate staff members to ensure issues like campers’ food restrictions, medications and behavior management are enforced.
  • Staff and volunteers need regular, on-the-job reminders of all policies and procedures, and immediate corrections should there be infractions.


  • A formal Risk Assessment should be conducted annually
  • A thorough screening process must be conducted for any new staff hired for the upcoming year

A successful camp season is a season when campers, staff and the university as a whole are all safe and protected. It’s a year-round job, but summer can only be fun if you know your camp is covered.

Tip: For more resources and online training about how to mitigate risk at camp, check out The American Camp Association’s Risk Management page.