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Why Camps Are Not Always Safe

Don’t assume that a summer camp is safe just because they claim to be accredited or have a long history. There are no federal regulations concerning camps. The summer camp industry regularly lobbies against government oversight of the business. State rules, where they exist, vary greatly. Some states do not require camps to be licensed in any fashion. Others do not require camps to conduct criminal background checks on camp employees. And, in the states with regulations, there are few if any sanctions when camps violate those rules.

And just because a camp is accredited with industry-related group does not ensure safety. Many times the camp’s owners are part of the groups that claim to accredit them.

A large number of U.S. camps rely on outside agencies to procure overseas counselors. Those agencies are quick to disclaim any responsibility for making any effort to screen or evaluate whether the candidate poses a threat to a child’s safety. Most claim they are merely providing assistance to obtain Visas and other documents necessary for the employees to come to the U.S.

Ultimately, this means many counselors working in U.S. camps have never had to sit for an interview, had their references checked or their employment claims verified before they are allowed to work with children.


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