Business

Experts: Thousands Of Day Camps Are Unregulated And Could Be Unsafe

Many Sport-Specific Camps Follow Entirely Different Guidelines

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Day camp is as much a part of the American summer as the Fourth of July, but unregulated day camps could be putting your child at risk.

Experts told CBS 2 that certain camps are not held to the same standards and regulations while others are, particularly camps that focus on a single activity like baseball or soccer.

“It would be the same as suggesting that a restaurant that was fast food would not be inspected, whereas a restaurant that was sit down would be,” Jamie Sirkin told CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson on Friday.

Sirkin is the director of Summer Trails Day Camp. Summer Trails is regulated by the New York State Department of Health. Employees are subject to background checks, fire safety regulations are strictly enforced, and counselors must meet a minimum age requirement.

A lack of similar regulation at other camps may be cause for concern, explained State Sen. David Carlucci.

“We could have a situation where you have actual sex offenders, or people who are on the child abuse registry that could still be working in these camps and dealing with our children,” he said.

Carlucci isn’t the only one who thinks that unregulated camps could put children at risk.

“Parents just don’t know that single-activity camps don’t follow the same guidelines that we do,” said Woodmont Day Camp spokesman Sam Borek.

At a news conference on Friday, camp owners told members of the press that the number of single-purpose day camps has skyrocketed over the past two decades.

“There’s been a tremendous growth in it because of the age of specialization now of athletes. Because, everybody thinks that their kid is going to be a professional player, female, male, doesn’t matter. So, now you have the basketball camp, the baseball camp, the soccer, the golf camp, the tennis camp,” Rockland Community College Sports Academy Camp Director Marty Kaplan said.

The director of one camp that specializes in basketball told CBS 2 that he is aware of the proposed changes and that he plans to comply with the new guidelines. In the meantime, he said that the camp has its own procedures, which include background checks for all employees.

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