Church-run kids’ camps, adventure outings or activities sometimes involve the use of adventure equipment such as flying foxes, high-ropes courses, giant swings or climbing walls. These types of programs can help our kids to develop new skills, to take some risks, and to increase in self-confidence while having lots of fun in the process. However to reduce the risk of serious injury it is essential that adequate safety is built into all programs and activities, and that proper supervision is provided at all times.
An example of the consequences of inadequate care occurred in 2007, when an 11-year-old boy was put into a coma after suffering an accident on a flying fox at a school camp in the Yarra Valley in Victoria. The boy collided with a scissor lift that was shown not to have been subjected to hazard identification or assessment of risk. Instructions and training for supervisors and communication between instructors were also shown to have been inadequate. Fortunately the child recovered from his injuries, but incidences like these highlight the importance of safety on adventure camps and outings.
While it is up to the owner to install equipment that is well-designed and to ensure it is properly maintained, it’s up to those running the camps or activities to make sure that safety rules are adhered to in the operation of equipment. This includes ensuring kids are properly and adequately supervised and provided with instructions when using adventure equipment , making sure that any required safety gear (such as harnesses, safety shoes and helmets) is correctly worn, and not allowing the use of equipment unattended. It’s also essential of course that the supervisors themselves are properly trained, so that they know how to safely operate equipment and to recognise malfunctions or other problems as they occur.
It’s likely that most parents would want their kids to learn new skills and to take some risks and develop confidence, and there is of course no guarantee that injuries will never happen. However it’s vitally important that all steps are taken to reduce the risk of serious and sometimes life-threatening accidents from occurring.
Resources on risk management and planning for outdoor activities can be found at the Victorian Government Education website.
Tags: children, health & safety, risk management