Sunday, May 16, 2010

Doesn't signing your child's school camp indemnity form make you nervous?

A while ago, the school my boys attend requested any input or suggestions prior to a meeting the teachers, and some of the parents, were going to have. One of the main topics was related to the school camps. I did not go to the meeting, but the letter I gave as input went along these lines:

I applaud the school's school camp programmes, as it’s plain to see the difference the camps make in a child’s life.

However, regards safety on these camps, I do have a concern.

One way of eliminating my concerns is not to allow my children to go on the camps at all, but this is not an option. How could it be an option when the children get so excited, and, logically, and with trust in God, everything should go well, and nobody gets seriously injured?

However, accidents do happen.

Before my children go on a camp, I sign an indemnity form, and usually feel a little uneasy about signing this form, not for reasons of needing to blame anybody if something goes wrong – I understand the risks involved in attending school camps especially school camps that are adventure based, but I feel uneasy about not knowing what plans are in place for if there really is an emergency. Is there a plan?

What is the plan, for example, if everyone on the camp is in a place that is more than an hour from the nearest hospital, and a child sustains an injury that needs expert medical care within, say, half an hour – eg a puff adder bite, an unexpected severe allergic reaction, or a severe blow to the head or spine? What is the plan? Is a helicopter called for? Do the teachers have the phone numbers (including after hours) of the closest local doctor, in the area the camp is in? What if there is no cell phone reception? What is the plan?

I would rest easier, allowing my children to attend these camps, if I knew that excellent plans were in place in the event of emergencies.

Taking it a step further, and possibly having it incorporated into the camp programmes, it would be nice to see that the children themselves are taught what to do in an emergency if one of their fellow campers is badly injured. Competition-level adventure activities always have medical personnel at hand – I feel that the “medical emergency” aspect of adventure based camp programmes should be taught to the campers too, since medical experts do not attend the camps with the children. Participants in adventure competitions “go all out,” knowing expert medical assistance is nearby, if needed. If the school's campers know more about what to do in an emergency, they may be more willing to overcome their fears regarding many of the activities.


Teresa Schultz

© copyright Teresa Schultz 2010

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  1. Hi Teresa,
    I enjoyed this post. I am a South African living in Austria and will be holding a few English summer camps during the coming holidays. The suggestion of having emergency contact details is one I will certainly take up.


  2. Jerome - thanks ever so much for your comment; it's greatly appreciated. These indemnity forms are a sore point of mine. I really think camp organizers could help parents rest a little more easy about letting their kids go on camps, and it sounds like you aim to do just that - help parents feel better. Good!


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