Before you know it, summer will be upon us and parents will be asking, “What will I do with my children?” Some families are exploring local sports programs, such as swimming lessons at a public pool, or overnight summer camps. However, with the threat of COVID-19, many parents are concerned about children sleeping in crowded cabins, elevating transmission risk. In this case, day camps are a great alternative and provide wholesome experiences for children.The Camp Ministries department of the North American Division recently updated their Day Camp Handbook, and this resource can be used when planning a day camp for your church or school. For kids who tire easily, tend to get homesick, or show insecurity, day camps offer less strenuous schedules and a gradual approach to gaining independence.
Benefits of Day Camp
- Day camp offers wholesome activities for young people ages 5–15.
- Day camp is cost-effective. Registration fees can cover most expenses.
- Day camp brings the camp experience to young people in their own neighborhoods or communities.
- Day camp contributes to the social, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual development of young people.
- Day camp offers a great way to reach out to the community as a service provided by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
- Day camp allows for a greater partnership between the camp and the campers’ parents.
COVID-19 and Mental Health
COVID-19 has dealt a serious blow to the mental health of our young people over the last three years, so it is becoming more and more important to address their mental health. Boosting the mental health of our young people is a major benefit of day camps.According to The Camp Experts and Teen Summers, 70 percent of parents who send their children to summer camp attest that it helps boost their child’s self-confidence. Day camps help facilitate mental stimulation and physical activity by getting them off the couch and outside. Using their devices, watching movies, and working on their computers limit physical and mental engagement for your child. Day camps are not only fun and safe but also have significant mental health benefits.
Safety FirstOne of the main priorities of running a day camp is to reduce the liability of operating your day camp. Extreme caution must be taken by the camp leadership to ensure that the children who come to camp are safe and secure. Consider the following:
- Choosing excellent staff is the key to the success of any day camp. Parents are as concerned about the quality of staff as they are about the safety of the planned activities and the location of the camp. Good staff can ensure that activities are well-managed and necessary safeguards are in place.
- Consult the recently published Day Camp Handbook to learn what staff positions should be in place. In addition, it is important that you are clear about what to do about criminal background checks. Adventist Screening Verification should be used when filling your staff positions.
- The location you choose will determine the types of activities you can offer. In most cases, your church or school facility will be the location for the camp. It is possible that you might also utilize public swimming pools, lakefront areas, parks, skating rinks, etc. When you select a venue away from your church or school, it is important to insure adequate supervision, such as the use of lifeguards, etc. It is also important to note that staff members who directly supervise campers must be 18 or older. The safety of the site must be a high priority.
- Consult with your local county to advise them of your plans and to see if there are any regulations that may affect your plans. It is also prudent to inform your local law enforcement, fire department, and EMT units of the plans for the camp. You can provide them with the dates, times of operation, and plans for loading and unloading children. Local law enforcement might even offer some help in traffic control as children arrive and depart.
- Before you begin any activity with your day campers, make sure you are covered with appropriate insurance. Consult with your local conference office to verify adequate coverage.
Parents can be assured that sending their child to a day camp will be an exciting and beneficial experience for their child. Day camp can be a safe haven for their child if the leadership follows accepted health protocols recommended by Adventist Risk Management, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American Camp Association (ACA). God bless as you plan a day camp that will draw children to Jesus Christ and expose them to the abundant life Jesus has promised.