Health and safety at sports summer camps: how accidents and injuries can be avoided

We have received an interesting guest post about health and safety at summer camps written by Charlotte Dowson, Senior Solicitor in the Accident Claims Team at Bolt Burdon Kemp.

During each summer holiday thousands of children across the UK attend sports summer camps. Parents choose a camp for their children based on the kind of sport on offer and their children’s particular needs. For parents sending their children to a sports summer camp it is important that they feel their children will be in a safe environment.

Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic fewer sports summer camps have been run over the last couple of years. Since restrictions ended camps have once again opened their doors and there is the risk of an uptick in injuries due to the time that has passed. This could relate to poor maintenance of equipment, lack of attention to detail or camp staff being generally out of sync with previous good practice for example.


Common issues

Common issues arising at sports summer camps are:

  • Trips, slips and falls: These can cause, strains, sprains and even fractures. Often these injuries result from the improper use of footwear. Parents should review the camp’s footwear policy to make sure they send their children with the correct footwear.
  • Lack or misuse of protective equipment: depending on the type of sport being played it may be appropriate for children to wear protective equipment. Parents should check what is included at the camp and whether they are expected to provide any equipment themselves. Serious injuries can occur if the correct protective equipment is not used or fitted incorrectly.
  • Incorrect supervision ratios – The number of adults in charge at an activity can vary, depending on the age of the children and the type of activity. Whoever oversees that particular sport or activity will have recommended supervision ratios in place. If parents are not sure there are enough adults leading an activity, they can always check with these organisations. 
  • Fatigue – this can be especially relevant if the camp is residential. As campers and camp staff become increasingly tired throughout the day they may become less observant and increasingly susceptible to injury. Campers should not be overloaded with activity and/or deprived of sleep.


The responsibilities of a sports summer camp

Anyone working with children or young people has a responsibility to keep them safe. When considering sending your children to a sports summer camp it is important to make sure that the facility has a strong commitment to the health, safety and security of its participants.

Parents can check whether the camp is accredited or otherwise affiliated with a sport’s governing body as this should mean they have the right safeguarding policies and procedures in place. If parents are concerned they can ask to see the camp’s safeguarding policy. This outlines their commitment to protecting children and a clear procedure for dealing with concerns of poor practice and their code of conduct of what is expected from staff, any volunteers and participants.

When their children join the camp parents should be asked to provide essential medical and emergency contact information, and also asked for consent for their children to participate. Even if everything seems fine once a child has started camp, parents should keep talking to their child and make sure they are enjoying their experience and they have no concerns about their health and safety.

In case of any accidents or injuries occurring a camp should have guidance on first aid and ideally a qualified first aider. The following should also be available: a first aid box, a way of reporting and responding to injuries or accidents and arrangements to administer medication to children if that’s been agreed with parents beforehand.


What you can do if your child is injured

Sometimes accidents do happen and no one is to blame. However, as a parent, you may be concerned that your child has been injured at a sports summer camp due to health and safety polices and procedures not being properly followed. In this case you may want to consider taking legal advice from a specialist personal injury lawyer. They can assess whether your child is likely to have a successful personal injury claim against the camp organisation to compensate them for their pain, suffering and loss of amenity as well as any past or future financial losses.

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