Coming to camp may mean being exposed for the first time to activities like Rifle and Archery. And while girls are excited about this — these were our most popular activities in the summer of 2013 — parents in our surveys wanted more details about our safety procedures for these classes. Being a mom myself, I can understand the desire for more information when shots are being fired and arrows are zinging through the air.
Rest assured that we have extensive, precise and clear Program Policies and Procedures for our weapons and water activities — honed through almost 100 years of Camp Alleghany’s existence. And this is not just “on paper.” Our staff members who teach these activities are highly trained and pass on the seriousness of such endeavors to their campers unequivocally.
So let’s break it down by activity.
On the shooting range
First, our procedures are so extensive and complete — way too much for a blog post — that I urge you to read them in full.
As for this blog post, the main thing I want to convey is that all of our rifle instructors must go through National Rifle Association training in order to teach at camp. Those counselors who do this take a special NRA workshop are then tested to achieve their certification to teach at camp. This is a serious endeavor requiring much focus and attention to detail, learning and mastering commands, and demonstrating proper handling and use of the weapon.
The other key element in this camper activity is the very high counselor-teacher to camper ratio on the shooting range. Our ideal is one counselor-teacher to every four campers, with an ideal of nine instructors in place for the 30 girls that any one class can hold.
What the counselors learn in terms of safety and commands, proper handling of the weapon both when not firing and when firing is covered with the campers on the first day of their activity, even if they’ve taken this activity in previous years. Keep all this in mind as you read the full safety procedures document linked above.
On target with Archery
Like rifle, Archery is a weapons program that demands an extremely high attention to safety detail among staff members. Again, staff are thoroughly trained during staff training on all the proper safety procedures which you can read about here.
A small counselor-teacher to camper ratio is maintained in this class as well. And as in Rifle, counselors use clear commands in Archery, which the campers are taught from day one in a full and complete safety session.
In both weapons programs, how to hold the weapon when not shooting and when shooting is covered in detail. And any physical movement on either shooting range, such as to retrieve arrows in Archery or to deal with a pulley problem in Rifle, only happens after clear commands for a cease fire are given (which also means a period of total silence).
In both classes in addition to the safety rules being taught, they are also posted at the ranges.
In the water
Of course swimming and canoeing, which take place in the water, require a complete safety program. Again, you can read all the details of our Waterfront policies here. All of our procedures for the Waterfront activities apply to:
- Free Swim
- All-Camp Free Swim
- Canoe Trips
- River Floats
- Staff Swim
Those of our counselors who are lifeguard-trained must be certified by a nationally-recognized lifeguard certification program. And while working for us they must singularly focus on lifeguarding when on lifeguarding duty: there is no reading, writing, or long conversations allowed. Their focus is on the swimmers or canoers, and that is their sole focus during a session. We maintain a a minimum ratio of 1:10 lifeguards to swimmers at all times.
In addition to lifeguards, during each waterfront session, there must be at least one person at each waterfront activity certified in Standard First Aid and age-appropriate CPR, and a stocked first-aid kit at each waterfront activity. Luckily, 100% of our staff are CPR certified!
All campers are apprised of the rules and regulations governing the water not only if they are taking waterfront classes, but also in general since we have free swims.
A successful safety record
As you can see, running a camp is not stressful at all! 😉
But seriously, we take safety extremely seriously and have long enjoyed a vigorously strong safety record. We value each individual camper and all our staff members and are rigorously devoted to their health and safety while in our care or employ.
I hope that this quick overview, along with the linked full documents governing our safety procedures will give you all the information you may want concerning our practices. But as always, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to e-mail me.
–Elizabeth Dawson Shreckhise, Assistant Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls