Hi. My name is Michael Staires and I’m with one of Tulsa’s summer camps, Camp Loughridge. I’m the summer camp director. I want to talk to you today a little bit about a concern that most, if not every single one of Tulsa summer camps, are concerned about and that is camp safety. What do we do at camp Loughridge to keep kids safe? That’s a very interesting question. Wedding Venues Tulsa
As you can imagine, there are a lot of things at camp that could be deemed unsafe. You’ve got everything from sunburns to snakes to ropes-courses and swimming pools and rocks and uneven trails and all kinds of things and there’s all kinds of ways that a kid could get hurt. So many that I think really we have to be very proactive like most Tulsa summer camps in understanding and managing these risks. Let’s face it. If we were to remove all the risk and to make a camp totally safe, no one would want to come. It would be an experience that might keep a kid safe, but let’s face it, safe stuff usually is not the fun stuff.
So we have to determine what risks are we prepared to manage. How? Because there is a difference between stuff that’s totally safe, but stuff that’s adventurous and still fun while being safe. We really want to try to understand that, dive into it for a little bit today. This is a concern of every Tulsa summer camp and I want to share with you today why it’s important at Camp Loughridge. Wedding Venues Tulsa
I know of a camp in New York where they actually removed the word safe from their website, from their brochure, from all their materials because they didn’t want to give the impression to the parents who were reading these materials that camp was a safe experience. Now understandably, the camp I’m talking about is a boys’ camp in New York and they do a lot of backpacking and overnight camping and building fires and rappelling and all kinds of rock climbing and things like that, which is not necessarily a camp Loughridge experience.
However, there are some similarities and I want to talk to you a little bit about that. We have to strategically manage the risk that we want. Let’s just take– We decide– let’s just take ropes-course where a kid’s going to climb up a pole and be 25 or 30 feet up in the air, walking on a cable between two poles, and on the face of it, that’s a dangerous activity where someone could get really hurt. So how are we going to manage that risk?
Well number one, we’re going to make sure that that ropes-course is inspected at least once if not more, every year by a trained ropes-course inspector to make sure all the cabling is done right, that the poles are sound. We’re also going to have our program inspected, so they’re going to look at what we do and how we do it, make sure that we’re following all the guidelines and procedures necessary to keep kids as safe as possible. Wedding Venues Tulsa
The other thing we’re going to do is make sure that every one of our ropes-course technicians undergoes a seven-day training and certification program complete with testing so that they’re up on the proper procedures that we want to make sure that everybody is up on. These are a way that we provide a potentially dangerous activity, but we manage the risk by making sure that we’re doing it according to certification standards that are set apart by a governing body that’s bigger than just us.
Same thing happens at the pool. We don’t just have counselors that are watching the kids in the water. We actually have certified lifeguards that have their certification to be lifeguards. We’re also members of the American Camp Association, and we are a certified site for summer camp which means we have gone through their very rigorous program of making sure that we adhere to the certified standards that all ACA camps are required to adhere to.
Every one of our staff during training staff training camp undergoes CPR and First Aid Certification. We take all day to do this or almost all day and everyone get certified with CPR and first aid. In addition to all of that, we have a full time nurse on the grounds who has a walkie-talkie. Her Infirmary is located in a centralized part of the camp, and she is able to easily either go to the place where there may be an injury, or the counselors are able to bring children to her.
So, she does everything from put Band-Aids on skinned knees all the way to contacting parents if there’s a problem with a food allergy or something that appears to be more than just a scrape. We’re very quick to bring parents into the decision because we’re located right here in Tulsa on West 71st Street, we’re only a few miles west of Tulsa hills. So it’s not like we’re way out in the middle of nowhere and that it requires medivac and all these kinds of things to get kids who are hurt to proper medical care.
Because there’s two or three medical clinics right there at Tulsa Hills, we’re only minutes away if we need some help more than we can provide there at camp. We do an annual audit of our medical log to determine where are most of those injuries coming from, how are kids getting hurt, and we’re able to– Actually, we’re able to make some decisions on, again, back to the strategic part of understanding risk management to decide, “Okay, is this something–”
If we if our logs shows that there’s a certain path where a lot of kids tend to be falling down and skinning their knees, then that’s something we need to do something about. Either we close off that path and don’t make it available anymore or we’re going to make the decision to put steps in so it makes it easier for kids to go down without falling. These are some of the ways that we choose to manage the risk and manage the activities that kids participate in when they come to camp. Wedding Venues Tulsa
Camp safety is very important. I think that a lot of parents who send their kids to camp or to any Tulsa summer camp really anticipate that the kids are going to have fun, that the kids are hopefully going to learn something, hopefully that the kids are challenged even spiritually. But I think the bottom line is that parents expect that their kids will be kept safe, that we will have safety on our minds as an utmost priority to make sure that their kids are safe and it is. That is on our mind.
But as you can see from our conversation, that there’s sometimes a delicate balance between– We could keep every kid safe if we just brought them all into the dining room and we showed movies all day, but that would get boring and kids don’t want to be inside, and that’s not what camp Loughridge is all about. Camp Loughridge is all about getting kids out and getting kids outside, putting kids in a in a position that’s outside their comfort zone, learning new skills, doing something they’ve never done before, pushing them maybe a little bit further than they’ve ever gone before. Wedding Venues Tulsa
All of these things involve risk and this is all part of what we do in the administration of Camp Loughridge as with any Tulsa summer camp. We do these kinds of things to make sure that the camp program is all it can be. We have trained people that are on site. We are professionals. This isn’t something we’re doing part time. This isn’t something– although we do have volunteer positions available for those that want to volunteer in certain positions, but when it involves the health and safety of the campers coming to camp, we really make those paid positions for people we want trained professionals in those positions and we take that very, very seriously.
We have every child that comes to camp participates in a swim test so we can evaluate their swimming capabilities and if their capabilities– if they’re not able to pass the swim test, which is basically just jumping in the water and swimming at a distance without putting their feet down, if they can pass that, then they can swim, no problem. If they can’t pass that, they get a wrist band and the wrist band just means that they need to be wearing a flotation device when they’re in the pool and that they cannot go in the deep end or they can’t go off the diving board or things like that. Wedding Venues Tulsa
So those are things that we do to make sure that kids are safe in the water. Of course, kids, things like food allergies and sunscreen on noses and shoulders, these are all things that we do routinely. There is a place on the medical form for parents to check if there’s food allergies or if the child is gluten-free. These are all things we pay very, very close attention to, to make sure that every child, just like at most Tulsa summer camps, every child comes to Camp Loughridge has a rewarding experience.
This has been Michael Staires, summer camp director at Camp Loughridge, thank you for joining us.