Building a “Healthy Camp”: Strategies That Worked!

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Camping Magazine


American Camp Association


Three years ago, the camp community placed a capstone on a significant accomplishment by completing the largest, most comprehensive study of camp-related injuries and illnesses ever undertaken. This “Healthy Camp Study” involved close to 300 day and resident camps in monitoring camper and staff injury and illness events over the summer for five years from 2006 through 2010. With leadership from the American Camp Association and the Association of Camp Nurses, and through support from Markel Insurance, the Healthy Camp Study not only provided data that camps can use to benchmark and compare their own rates of injuries and illness, but it also resulted in a set of recommended practices for injury and illness prevention in camps. Although the study showed that camp is generally a safer experience than many other youth activities, a number of lessons were learned that can dramatically improve health-related outcomes for both campers and staff. Many camps made changes to their healthcare and operational policies and protocols because of lessons learned from the study, and this article explores the stories and experiences of two such camps.