Summer is an exciting time for kids, as school gives way to freedom and the prospect of going off to a camp. Nowadays, there is an ever-growing variety of camp options ranging from traditional choices to sport or activity focused experiences, such as horseback riding or junior chef camps. For parents, the wide array of options can prove to be difficult to choose from.
However, all parents can agree that whatever camp they choose, they want it to be a place of safe, fun, and healthy growth for their child. Unbeknownst to many, camps can actually be divided into two main categories, regulated and unregulated. The difference may be a deciding factor for many parents come summertime and with good reason.
Learn what a regulated camp entails and why camps want to be regulated, especially when it comes to measles.
All camps, whether they are focused on sports, arts, education, or any other category, can be regulated or not. Regulation is essentially the submission and adherence to set up guidelines and parameters that are put in place to make camps healthy and safe places. There is a myriad of organizations across the country, such as the American Camp Association, that create standards and requirements for camps in the areas of health, supervision, maintenance, and other logistical categories. Camps can voluntarily subscribe to be regulated or “certified” by an association, which usually entails a multi-step process.
First, the camp must apply and receive the standards and guidelines, which they then start to put in place. After a predetermined time, the camp is evaluated to make sure that they meet the requirements.
Lastly, the camp faces reevaluations that come every few years, to ensure that the standards are continuing to be upheld. Camps that fulfill their requirements can bear the “seal” of whatever organization they have been evaluated by.
Why would a camp go through all the trouble just to be certified or regulated by an association or organization? Simply put, camps that are regulated boast an edge over their non-“accredited” counterparts. Parents deciding on where to send their child for the summer can see camps’ regulation status, and what organization they are affiliated to.
From the organization’s webpage, they can easily see the safety and health standards that the prospective camp has. Regulated camps typically require campers to provide vaccination proof, counselors to pass background checks, and the facilities to be generally safe. These are just a few examples of the multitude of standards that camps must uphold. The peace of mind provided by this information is usually enough to prompt parents to choose a regulated or accredited camp over one that is unregulated. For this reason, thousands of camps across the country are accredited and regulated.
A recent push in some states has brought forth the issue of government regulation of all camps. While this would not replace associations, it would provide a blanket requirement for all camps to meet. Health concerns are the driving forces behind these political moves; many unregulated camps currently do not require vaccinations, nor do they have to keep up with other health-related standards (such as having a nurse or medical official on site). Passing laws that require universal standards to be met for all camps would provide an effective baseline from which all camps would need to operate from.
Camps could continue to seek accreditation through associations, while others would likely meet the bare minimum requirements set by the state. In New York a recent law has just been enacted regarding camp regulation, which requires camps to meet standards or to provide public disclaimers stating that their camp is not regulated. Most see this as a helpful move, aimed at protecting kids, although it is a fairly new debate and will likely be slow to be rolled out in many states.
Choosing a summer camp for your children can be a difficult decision, but with the right research, you can choose the best fit for your family. Let us at Camps With Friends do the research for you. We feature camps that provide safe, fun, and healthy growth for your child. Use our app to select the specific camp for each of your children’s interests!
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