5 Ways that Kids Summer Camps Ensure Safety at Night

Friends hikers sitting beside camp and tents in the night

Camp Is Your Kids Home Away From Home.  And Their Safety No Matter The Time Of Day Must Always Be Guaranteed By The Camp or Outdoor Organization.

How will the camp guarantee my kids safety at night? Every parent has this question ringing somewhere in the back of their mind when they are registering for their kids summer camps.  I have personally fielded countless questions over the years from parents.

We’re here to provide all the answers to your summer camp questions on nighttime management, sleeping arrangements, expectations and more.

We hope to assure you, our wonderful camp parents out there, that the camp cabin is a unique and lucky place to call home.

During the late-night and early morning hours, the campers will be sleeping in either a small cabin or a larger dormitory-type building at camp.  All lodging should be adequately heated with quick and safe access to the bathrooms.

The lodging at kids summer camps, and really any other outdoor program, should always be a safe place for your kids to feel comfortable and accepted.

Cabins Vs Dormitories at Kids Summer Camps?  And How Many Kids Sleep In Each?

Camp lodging for the kids is broken down into two types: cabins and dormitories.

Cabins at summer camps are smaller structures that are designed to house 1 cabin group and their counselors (up to 14 people).  They are more effective in camper management and developing the strongest cabin group team possible.

Dormitory structures at summer camps are designed to house from 60 to 100 campers.  They can provide camps with the option of nighttime chaperones to supervise the kids.  This will, in turn, allow more downtown for the regular counselors.

Never underestimate the added value for your kids if your counselor is guaranteed an uninterrupted nights sleep.

Typically at camp, the counselors can be woken up several times in the night for campers not feeling well or acting inappropriately.  This can affect their energy levels and attitude the following day.

Some camp dormitory set-ups even divide the overall space into separate areas for cabin groups and separate bathroom areas as well. 

Whereas some camp dormitories are completely open floor plans with a shared bathroom at one end or in the middle.

Dormitory structures will require more coordination between the various cabin group counselors for planning shower times and supervising the kids.

Kids Summer Camp Bathroom Expectations And Proper Supervision 

Bathrooms have become an incredibly sensitive area for camps in recent years.  It has become a zero-tolerance zone for misbehavior or infringing on the privacy of other campers.

It is the most common spot on camp for kids to fool around, attempt to pull pranks and try to get away with extra private time.

Over the years, I have even found campers trying to get away with extra school study time after lights out.  Campers like to have private socializing time, and always give themselves away with the rapidly increasing level of volume.  

The teens, or CITs (counselors in training), might try to get away with relationship time, but this is usually anticipated and prevented by the counselor and directing staff.

The camp schedule and the CIT programs overall emphasis on strong leadership should also reduce the possibility of such incidents.

The interpretation of sexual assault and common assault has become much broader in recent times.  Now it can be interpreted as kicking a bathroom stall door open on another camper as a disgusting prank.  Or taking any kind of photos in the bathroom.

Parents, be sure to let your kids know the seriousness of any incidents that occur here.  And don’t forget to mention that cameras have absolutely no place in a bathroom.

Counselors are trained with this advised caution as well.  Even a misplaced and unattended smartphone in a bathroom can be grounds for immediate dismissal for the adults, as the potential risk to the kids and the liability exposure for the camp are very high.

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Does the Lodging Have Indoor or Outdoor Bathrooms at Summer Camp?

Please keep in mind that outdoor bathrooms are not literally located outdoors.  It refers to the campers access to the bathrooms.  They will either be within the lodging or a very short walk from it.

Most new or recently-built camps will have indoor bathrooms.  This will ensure an easier nighttime bathroom process as campers never have to stray too far or go outside at all.  It also allows counselors to keep a closer eye on campers. 

Many camps still have outdoor bathrooms that are typically centrally located less than 40 feet from the lodging.

This will require a well-structured and proven nighttime bathroom procedure for the campers.  The right procedure should always involve waking up a pre-assigned buddy and/or the counselor.

The campers should always be expected to carry a flashlight or preferably a headlamp with them. Headlamps would be a much safer option as they are hands-free and tend to last for years.

The areas in-between should be well-lit with clear, defined paths.  There should also be clear sightlines from the cabin or dormitory; kids should never fall out of sight of cabin windows.

How Do Kids Summer Camps Manage The Kids At Night?

Night-time is an extremely sensitive time for all camps; forcing them to rely on their own management structures, staff / volunteer training, and the effectiveness of their response to potential incidents.

This can be largely determined by the camps structural set-up and session scheduling. The structural set-up is a big issue to fix if the right focus on safety has not been implemented from the beginning.

I have worked at camps where if you stand at the centrally-located campfire area, you can see and hear almost everything occurring on the main campgrounds at night.

I have worked at other camps where it became a bit of a head-scratcher trying to figure out the best walking routes to cover all of the cabins and ensure constant overall awareness.

Either way, your camp must treat this time with a high priority on maintaining safety for the kids. Their nighttime structures and procedures should be tested and proven effective through many seasons of development.

If the camp is part of an Outdoor Science School / OSS experience, every aspect of their nighttime management will have been thoroughly vetted by the district superintendent and the school principal.

OSS operates under a much stricter and more rigid set of guidelines that is typically dictated by the school district and the general insurance provider.

Regardless of the type of camp, nighttime management requires an on-going review after every camp season.

There are numerous other ways that kids summer camps and other outdoor organizations prioritize the safety of the campers. This recent post is essential to understanding how to trust your kids summer camps or other outdoor organizations.

Do The Counselors Sleep In The Cabins?  Or Do The Kids Summer Camps Employ Night Staff as Cabin Chaperones?   

As mentioned before, counselors aren’t always guaranteed the best sleep as they are expected to be responsive to potential incidents at all times.

Camps based on high volumes of volunteer support usually won’t have the option of nighttime cabin chaperones due to budget limitations.  

Sports camps, outdoor science schools, and arts-focused camps could have the ability to consider this option as they can be for-profit programs, with a higher degree of available resources.

The outdoor program could even be housed under a much larger umbrella of support, such as a strong school district, community organization, or corporate sponsorship.

College and international travel camps typically rely on a couple of counselors that will stay with the teens the entire time as they manage their logistics, schedules, and free time.

Are The Counselors Allowed To Leave Their Cabins At Night At Kids Summer Camps?

Keep in mind that the mental workload of the counselors can be immense. They are always expected to keep energy levels high, maintain a positive attitude, and be constantly vigilant.

Due to this mental load, most camps will allow their counselors out of the cabin for 2 to 3 hours during at least a couple of nights of each week. This provides the opportunity for the adults to mentally switch off, and enjoy some time away from the campers.

The conditions of this adult free-time will be strictly monitored and enforced by an assigned director. These conditions should be proven effective over many seasons of development.

Obviously, these are very sensitive times for the camp and can make a parent understandably anxious. The fears should be put to rest in the knowledge that the camp will have proven methods for handling these nighttime situations.

These nighttime methods will be primarily rooted within a guaranteed 30 second response time to any incidents, with multiple adults being assigned to night watch on a rotational basis.

In addition to this, kids are told to simply turn the main cabin light on to gain attention if needed. Radios can malfunction, and stress can create shaky communication.

Turning on the light also doesn’t create immediate panic. The simplest method here is the best one.

That’s A Wrap!

Hopefully, this post on how Camps ensure the kids safety at night is helpful, insightful, and enjoyable for you.  The cabins at camp are such a special and lucky place to call home.  I love feeling nestled into my camp bed when I have it set up just the right way for myself. 

The cabin is an extremely important part of the overall camp experience.  It is where the initial trust, comfort, and acceptance begin for most campers.

This post is a part of our KCE Camp Tidbit – What About The Kids Cabin Life.  Have a great time preparing your young camper for their unforgettable outdoor adventure!

“The cabin is one of my happy places.”

– Current Camper

For more of the best kids camp tips and insight, subscribe to our free and exclusive KCE Camp Tidbits emails.

Want to Share Your Experience or Ask a Question About How Kids Summer Camps Ensure Safety at Night?  Leave A Comment Below!

6 thoughts on “5 Ways that Kids Summer Camps Ensure Safety at Night

  1. Tyler Johnson says:

    That’s good to know that sports camps would usually have some good night time staff. I would think that would help to keep the kids safer. That makes me feel a bit better about sending my kids to a camp.

    • Sam - Author & Founder says:

      Thank You for the comment Tyler! Most Camps should have their nighttime management dialed in and solid. It’s never a bad idea though to ask the questions before check-in day. The confidence in their response will be telling and indicative of the strength of their nighttime structures.

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