Youth swimming in a lake

National Drowning Prevention Week - July 17th to 23rd.

National Drowning Week is a good opportunity to review these risk management considerations for drafting policies and procedures for summer camp water activites: 

  1. Participants should be required to take a swimming skill test for all activities near water. 

  2. Consider whether to administer the test or have the test be conducted by a third party. 

  3. What happens if a child fails? Will additional training be required? Will the child participate in an alternate activity? 

  4. The Camp should review all tests and give final approval of all Participants. 

  5. What training is required for instructors? 

  6. What is the appropriate ratio of students to instructors? 

  7. What types of equipment are required for the activity? 

  8. What safety training should be required for campers? 

  9. When and where are life jackets required to be worn? 

  10. Who is responsible for monitoring weather? Under what conditions will activities be cancelled? 

  11. Have an emergency plan in place and ensure everyone is trained to follow it.  

In order for a policy to be effective, the importance of following the policy must be re-enforced with all staff and participants. Review policies and procedures on a regular basis and revise as necessary. 

Consider having alternative activities or safety measure in place for children that do not have strong swimming skills:  

  • Life jackets – Provide certified, size appropriate life jackets. This is will give children who are not strong swimmers the opportunity to participate in water activities. 
  • Flotation devices – Have access to flotation devices. Flutter boards, pool noodles and inflatable toys are a great way to have fun when it’s time for a free swim. These, however, are toys and should NOT be used as an alternative to life jackets. 
  • Offer swimming lessons – Teach the basics of swimming will give those who have never learned to swim an opportunity to participate in more water activities. 
  • Have a shallow end – Have a marked shallow end for weaker swimmers or small children that is easy to stand in. This could also be a good area to administer the swim test or to conduct swimming lessons. 
  • Other activities – Have alternative games that can be done by the children that do not pass the swim test or who do not want to go in the water.

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