Local News

N.C. one of seven states lacking summer camp licenses

Posted June 4, 2009 5:00 a.m. EDT
Updated June 4, 2009 7:02 p.m. EDT

— When it comes to summer camps, North Carolina is one of seven states in the U.S. that does not require some kind of license.

North Carolina requires yearly sanitation inspections of resident camps. However, other standards vary widely, such as counselor-to-child ratios, programming and first aid policies.

Out of the 50 states and D.C., most require some kind of license for summer camps, according to the American Camp Association.

“Should we be worried about the fact that there’s no standards (in North Carolina)? Yes and no,” said Larry Hancock, a board member of the American Camp Association.

Camps can voluntarily subject themselves to ACA accreditation, which is a lengthy process. Since North Carolina only sets sanitation standards, Hancock says the ACA stamp of approval is parents’ best bet for choosing a quality camp.

“An American Camp Association director must have a college degree, must have had two years experience leading up to that where they supervised at a camp setting. All the camp staff, at least 80 percent, have to be age 18 and above,” Hancock said.

The ACA also sets standards on instruction, record keeping and emergency training. Well-known camps in the state such as 4H and YMCA are ACA accredited. The City of Raleigh's 70 camps are not.

“The American Camp Association is definitely one of the places we look to when evaluating industry standards. But, at this point, we haven’t made a determination as far as whether we want to move forward with accreditation,” said Kathy Capps with Raleigh’s Parks and Recreation Department.

Raleigh officials said they prefer to set their own policies and train counselors at their camp college. They say just because the camps aren't ACA certified doesn't mean they aren't high quality.

Parent Maria Devega said she does her homework to make sure she is sending her child to a safe camp.

“I go visit the site and I ask questions and I go online and research the information,” she said.

The ACA lists camps that have earned the group's accreditation. It also compares state-by-state regulations for camps.