Running a day camp for children can be a rewarding but exhausting experience. There're many different factors that must be considered, from location to the number of children. Camp operators must make sure that the children's health and welfare are promoted by the rules of the camp.

States also have various legal requirements that must be met before someone can run a day camp. Issues like licenses, insurance and supervision ratios can vary from state to state. If you're considering running a day camp, talk to an attorney about the specific legal requirements in your state.

License to Run a Day Camp

The majority of states require licenses to run day camps. The fees for the licenses vary from state to state. Some states don't require licenses if the camps only last a short while, such as 70 days or less.

License applications usually require certain key information about the camp. Camp location, hours of operation, number of children and type of swimming pool are some examples of information that might be needed to fill out the application.

States may suspend licenses for various reasons, including:

  • Threats against the health and welfare of the children
  • Failure to provide basic needs such as water and electricity
  • Conviction for a crime against life or bodily injury

Day Camp Insurance

States normally require liability insurance coverage for day camps as part of their license requirements. The amount of liability coverage that's legally needed varies by state. Along with general liability insurance, auto insurance and coverage of specific adventure-based activities may also be required. Many insurance companies offer specific day camp insurance policies cover the children and the camp staff.

Criminal Background Checks

Camp operators need to make sure that any supervisors or counselors won't be a threat to the children. Close to half the states require criminal background checks for anyone that works in a day camp. Even if a state doesn't require background checks, an operator should have them to help protect the children.

Ratio of Counselors to Children

As part of the license requirements, states may have counselor-to-child ratios for the day camps. The ratios help make sure that the children are well-supervised. States may also have ratios for specific activities, such as a counselor-to-child ratio while children are swimming.

Location of the Camp

The location of the day camp will affect the activities of the children. Operators need to consider bathroom facilities and an indoor area in case of bad weather. Local authorities should be checked to see if there're any zoning clearances or building permits required to run a day camp.

Day Camp Tuition and Cancellation Policy

Fees to attend the camp should be based on the camp costs and the number of children attending. The lower the fees the more children will be able to attend. Examining the fees of other day camps in the area will help in determining a fair price.

Many day camps require a non-refundable deposit that's due at registration. The rest of the tuition is due before the camp begins. If a child has to cancel, the tuition is returned except for the deposit. Some camps won't even return the tuition unless another child is found as a replacement. The camp registration form should be very clear about the cancellation policy.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • Do I need a license to run a day camp, and what're the requirements if I need one?
  • How much liability insurance am I legally required to get for my day camp?
  • How many people do I need to hire for my day camp, and should I perform criminal background checks?

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