Nationwide and State Data on Youth Camp Safety and Health Not Collected

T-HRD-89-27: Published: Sep 20, 1989. Publicly Released: Sep 20, 1989.

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GAO discussed youth camp safety and health, focusing on: (1) how many accidents, illnesses, and fatalities occurred at youth camps each year; (2) state youth camp safety and health standards and their enforcement of those standards; and (3) the effect of proposed federal legislation on states. GAO found that: (1) except for Maryland, which enacted but did not implement new youth camp legislation, there were no major legislative or regulatory changes to state laws since 1982; (2) no nationwide information existed on either the number of youth camps that operated each year or the incidence of accidents, illnesses, or fatalities at them; (3) youth camp definitions varied widely in the 50 states regarding size, location, types of activities, length of stay and the need for overnight accommodations; (4) although four of the six states reviewed required camps to report accidents, illnesses and fatalities, only New York included such data in annual reports; (5) a Center for Disease Control (CDC) study showed that 17 states had laws that specifically covered youth camps and 20 had laws covering both youth and adult camps; (6) 12 states had comprehensive laws and regulations that met 65 percent or more of CDC model standards, 12 states met between 50 and 64 percent, and the other 26 states met less than 50 percent; (7) five of the states had standards for personnel qualifications, high-risk activities, and health and medical services, and all six states had regulations requiring a full-time medical supervisor; and (8) three states carried out enforcement activities centrally, while the others delegated enforcement responsibility to local governments.

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