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May 16, 2023

Preparing for sporting activities at camp

Sports can be an exhilarating aspect of camp, and they can promote exercise along with valuable skills like teamwork and leadership. However, these activities present various health and safety risks.

As a camp counselor, you need to properly prepare for these activities to help ensure they are safe and fun. The following are tips regarding the safe organization of sporting activities at camp.

Tips for Preparing for Sporting Activities

There are several factors involved in arranging the sporting activity, preparing for camper involvement, and keeping participants safe. You should be mindful of these factors when setting up camp sports.

Arranging for the Sporting Activity and Its Setting

  • Make sure to have all the information ready before an activity starts so you can explain the basics of the game. This can help eliminate uncertainty or confusion.
  • Thoroughly plan for the activity. Consider how long it will take, how much space you need, and how teams will be divided. Mismatches in skill or size can create safety issues. Make sure to incorporate proper warmup, resting, and cooldown periods into your plan.
  • Inspect the playing area and surrounding area to ensure there are no sharp objects, tripping or slipping hazards, contaminants (e.g., lawn treatment chemicals), or other unsafe conditions. Also, ensure the surface is appropriate for the planned activities and boundaries are clearly marked. If the activities take place indoors, make sure there are proper temperature controls in place and adequate ventilation. If the activity takes place in water, review water safety guidelines; similarly, if the activity takes place at altitude, make sure to account for the unique risks that setting presents.
  • Pay attention to weather forecasts and have an action plan ready in case weather (e.g., lightning) or other events disrupt the activity. Know where to seek shelter if necessary.

Preparing for Camper Involvement in the Sport

  • Take attendance to ensure no child has been left out. Plan ways to safely include campers with disabilities and make sure to be aware of campers’ special medical conditions (e.g., allergies or asthma).
  • Understand the age and skill level appropriateness for the sport you select. Each camper has unique knowledge and experience, so it’s important not to assume they are familiar with certain games or have specific skill sets.
  • Plan for ways to resolve conflicts. Know what to watch for when the campers start playing and be ready to make modifications to the team or the rules if needed.
  • Do not allow campers to participate if they are ill.

Keeping Campers Safe

  • Ensure you have the proper equipment and an adequate amount of it for the activity. Inspect it before the activity starts. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper maintenance and use.
  • Bring supplies to prevent heat stress, sunburn, and dehydration, and make sure the campers know how to properly dress for the conditions. Inform the campers where the hydration station is for their use. Incorporate hydration breaks into your schedule.
  • Have a first aid kit on hand and know who to contact in an emergency. You should be trained in first aid, CPR, and automated external defibrillator use in case of emergencies.
  • Ensure trained supervisors and medical personnel will be on hand, especially if the activity involves a high risk of injury.
  • Make special preparations for sports with swinging or striking activities. Explain how campers need to keep a safe distance and remain alert while those actions are taking place.
  • Review how to spot the signs of fatigue, injuries, dehydration, heat exhaustion, and concussions. Review the procedures on how to appropriately handle any issues regarding these conditions. Remind yourself not to underestimate the severity of injuries or assume a camper can “walk it off” or is faking.
  • Review infection control guidelines on how to properly handle situations when a camper is bleeding or vomiting. Ensure you are physically prepared and capable of running the activity. Stay alert for the duration of the game.


Proper preparations can help ensure the health and safety of campers during sporting activities. It is vital that you do not take shortcuts when getting ready for these activities. If you have any safety questions or concerns, do not hesitate to ask your supervisor.

This Safety Matters is for general informational purposes only and is not intended as medical or legal advice. © 2023 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

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