Keep these tips in mind when planning and preparing your summer program lineup
In just a few months, students will be running out of your building in excitement for summer. Although classes will be over, your facilities could still host summer programs to keep students active and further tap into their interests. My summers were spent focused on sports — football and soccer to be specific. I quickly learned that sports are not my calling but I also learned a lot about myself and established friendships that I would cherish for years to follow.
Summer school programs go beyond sports though. Between music, art, science and more, the possibilities can be endless. But while you’re planning a program that’ll really get the kids talking, there’s one thing you need to take into consideration — the associated risks. Keep the following elements in mind for your summer programs:
A good program starts with those in charge — your staff. Background checks should be required for all volunteers, and all staff members must be properly trained in order to carry out their responsibilities. Do they understand what the day-to-day needs will be? How to handle emergency situations? How are injuries and illnesses reported, and who gets informed of these instances? How often are the facilities being inspected to reduce risk? These are just a few critical questions to consider.
The safety of all participants should be top priority in any summer school program. First aid kits should always be on-hand and a set of safety rules should be established and reviewed with participants. Unfortunately, unexpected incidents could be lurking around any corner, so a formal emergency action plan should be made and kept with all emergency contact numbers near phones.
Will activities take place indoors or outdoors? If it’s the latter, there are plenty of outdoor hazards that children and teens could be exposed to. For starters, sun and heat exposure can pose serious risks. Consider the following tips to beat the heat:
- Stress the importance of loose, lightweight clothing.
- If the temps get too high, or if summer storms are approaching, have an alternative indoor location available. If no alternative location is available, postpone all activities.
- Sunscreen is a must. Ensure program participants are wearing an SPF of at least 30.
- Make sure plenty of water is available and everyone is staying fully hydrated.
- If possible, try to schedule outdoor activities during the coolest times of the day (early morning or evening), and use shaded areas to your advantage.
- Understand the warning signs of heat-related illnesses. Stay up-to-date and have a plan in place for when symptoms appear.
We’re not the only ones who enjoy the summer weather. The changing of the seasons also brings out plenty of insects and pests. With this in mind, keep an eye out for infested areas and relocate activities accordingly. If you’re treating for pests, be sure that it is done long before any child or teen steps foot on the property to minimize contact with pesticide residue.
Hitting the road? It’s not unusual for summer programs to involve field trips. Get written consent from parents and guardians, as well as lists of any emergency medical treatments, physical limitations and special accommodations for participants. Medical paperwork should list each participant’s insurance information and preferred doctor, hospital and dentist offices.
Plan all routes carefully and guarantee that qualified drivers are behind the wheel. Does everyone understand what to do in the event of an emergency? Review emergency bus drills highlighting emergency exits and the essential do’s and don’ts. No matter the location, keep the safety tips mentioned above in mind for the duration of your trip.
If you’re not running the show, and the program is being managed by a third-party using your facilities, be sure that all participants understand that your school is not overseeing the program. Establish full transparency at the start of any arrangement. Provide a written agreement to any third party and outline all of their responsibilities, clearly state loss accountability, and address requirements regarding financial responsibility and insurance coverage.
With the proper planning and management, a summer program can be the highlight of a child’s summer vacation. Any sort of extracurricular activity should not only provide the student with an opportunity to express themselves and grow, but also a sense of safety and security.
Richie Almeida, Marketing
Richie is an avid movie goer with an addiction to Sour Patch Kids. If he isn’t at the movies, he is at the gym or on a hike trying to make up for his bad eating habits.
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