Security: Camps

by Secure Community Network


Summertime is not normally associated with security concerns and those who work in as well as attend summer camps anticipate an enjoyable summer experience. Security planning for summer camps involves not just physical security, but also information, communication and emergency planning.

Many camps are increasing their security measures since the terrorist attacks of 2001. Not only were the attacks on the World Trade Center cause for concern, but the residual effects of terrorism have caused camp directors to tighten the protective measures around their camps. The threat of anthrax or other biological or chemical agents passing through the mail, frequent warnings of potential terrorist activity on holidays and tight security in airports are all reminders of the new set of concerns we must now live and protect ourselves from.

Each camp will have to research its individual needs and liabilities.  A vulnerability assessment conducted either internally or by professionals is a critical component of the process.

Several key areas to consider are:

  • Develop an emergency operations plan for your camp.  Use the DHS Guide to Developing High Quality Emergency Operations Plans for guidance
  • Assess your campground and location. Is there a need for fencing, lighting and telephones or cell phones for emergency calls. Review the environmental and architectural layout of your buildings in proximity to one another to determine secure and insecure areas. In addition, consider the camp's nearness to cities, roads or heavily forested areas.
  • Design a protocol for handling visitors. Protocol for parents may be different than those for sporadic visitors such as delivery people. Some programs require these people to phone the camp before they arrive.
  • Protocols must also be developed for the acceptance and transfer of luggage, mail and other parcels.
  • What is the extent of management and control present at the camp especially in the evening and nighttime hours?
  • Communicate and coordinate with local emergency management personnel (e.g. police, fire, etc.) on a regular basis and encourage them to visit the camp and review security/emergency plans.  

As in all institutions, a key element is the ability of management to establish command, control and communications in the event of an emergency. Consider your assets and vulnerabilities, the realistic probability of a dangerous occurrence and your operational, cultural, building code and cost restraints. While maintaining and establishing these elements may prove difficult given the nature of camps and their locations, programs and attendees, diligent planning will go a long way to ensure a safe camping experience for all. Make a plan and follow it through.

Day Camps that are contained within the confines of a Jewish institution, while being included the institutions overall security plan, do have  their own particular nuances, such as young people being outdoors for extended periods of time, crowded pickup and drop-off times and other uses of the facility occurring simultaneously with camp activities. 

With proper attention to security planning and particularly communication, the camping experience, regardless of the type, should prove safe and enjoyable for all concerned.

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