Safety Considerations for Camps and Adventure Activities

November 19, 2012 - 3 minutes read

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 and take some risks. They can also help them grow in self-confidence while having lots of fun in the process.

To reduce the risk of serious injury however, it’s essential to build adequate safety into all programs and activities. Proper supervision should also be 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 apparently had not 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. However incidences like these highlight the importance of safety on adventure camps and outings.

Safety is first priority

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. Safety gear (such as harnesses, safety shoes and helmets) must also be correctly worn, and equipment not left unattended. It’s also essential of course that the supervisors themselves are properly trained. This enables them 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. Also see our other posts on child and youth safety.

Written by Tess Oliver


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