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Youth Camp, Mission Trips and Offsite Safety

Plan ahead for safety so it doesn't become your focus.

Summer is filled with youth camps, mission trips and off-site recreational activities. By taking care of safety issues up front, you can avoid potential disasters and keep your focus on the ministry.

How do you keep your outings fun — and safe?

Know your coverages

Early in your event-planning stages, call your insurance provider to make sure you know how you're covered. You need to know if there are any restrictions that may affect the activities you provide and if there are any gaps in your current liability coverage.

Enlist good help

Adult sponsors should be mature and trusted to respond appropriately in crisis situations. They should be able to get along well with your youth. You should consider including someone with training in first aid and CPR, such as a nurse. Make sure you have a first-aid kit in every vehicle. It's recommended that you only use sponsors who have been a member of your church for six months or more.

Collect your paperwork

For participants, you need:

  • A parental release form giving permission to provide medical care and accepting the risks that may be involved in the activity.
  • Emergency contact information.

For drivers, you should have in your files:

  • A background check, including a Motor Vehicle Report (MVR).
  • Completed Volunteer Driver Form.
  • Copy of driver's license.
  • Statement of medical condition.
  • Documentation for any certification or training the driver has gone through.

For adult sponsors, you need: 

  • A background check.
  • Cell phone number.
  • Statement of sufficient liability insurance.

Use appropriate transportation

Take precaution if you're going to use a 15-passenger van. If you're hiring a chartered bus, make sure the company has a good reputation, good safety record and well-maintained buses. Ask to see their certificate of liability insurance. Never sign an agreement that makes you responsible for injuries that occur while on the bus. Lastly, confirm the charter company's standards and practices with respect to driver MVRs and safety training.

The "rule of two" applies to vehicle safety. Maintain a proper adult-child ratio when transporting youth. Ideally, a minimum of two adults should have responsibility for 20 or fewer young people. Add another adult for every ten additional youth. And pay attention to the number of passengers in each vehicle. Never transport more passengers than a vehicle is designed to carry.

Additional tips

The "rule of three" applies to groups: When separating into groups, always have two adults with one youth, two youth with one adult, or — if you allow youth to work without an adult present —three youth minimum per group. You may have groups larger than three, but never go smaller.

Every adult should have a cell phone with them at all times. As a minimum, there should be one phone per group. Make sure everyone has phone numbers for the group leader and the designated first-aid provider.

If someone is injured, call the youth’s parent, the group leader and the designated first-aid provider.

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice. Readers should use this article as a tool, along with best judgment and any terms or conditions that apply, to determine appropriate safety precautions for programs and activities.