2006 Children's Camp Incident Summary

In 2006, 2,806 children's camps were issued permits to operate by local health departments (LHDs) in New York State. Five hundred eighty were overnight camps and 2,226 were day camps, including 337 municipal day camps and 19 traveling summer day camps. It is estimated that 650,000 children attend NYS children's camps each year.

To assess the health and safety at camps, a children's camp incident surveillance system is maintained. This system requires camp operators to report serious injuries, illness and allegations of camper abuse to LHDs, which investigate the incidents and enter information into an electronic database. A total of 1624 incidents were reported statewide indicating that less than two-tenths of 1% of campers experience injury and illness while at camp. Statewide analysis of the data is used for injury prevention and control and has been used to amend the SSC and administrative guidance. The following summarizes the 2006 reportable incidents.


Twenty-four (24) outbreaks were reported to the Bureau of Community Environmental Health and Food Protection (BCEHFP). These include ten outbreaks of conjunctivitis (52 cases), four gastroenteritis outbreaks (93 cases), two coxsackie virus outbreaks (4 cases), two impetigo outbreaks (41 cases), two chicken pox outbreaks (4 cases), and one outbreak each of fifth disease (2 cases), pediculosis (10 cases), scabies (4 cases) and pinworm disease (27 cases).

The causative agent for two of the gastroenteritis outbreaks was identified as Shigella and accounted for 34 cases of illness. The causative agent for the remaining two gastroenteritis outbreaks accounting for 59 cases of illness was not identified. Nine of the ten conjunctivitis outbreaks reported (47 cases) originated from the same camp and have onset dates that make it likely that they were part of one propagated outbreak.

There were 22 cases of Lyme Disease reported during the 2006 camp season. Twenty-one of the 22 cases occurred at one of two Columbia County Camps.

Abuse Allegations:

Twenty-four (24) allegations of abuse with a total of 31 victims were reported. Nine victims were alleged to have suffered physical abuse, 18 sexual abuse, and four for which both physical and sexual abuse was alleged. The alleged perpetrator was a counselor or other staff member in eight incidents (ten victims), another camper in thirteen incidents (eighteen victims) and three incidents where the perpetrator was a Counselor-In-Training (three victims). Multiple perpetrators were identified in two physical, three sexual abuse allegations and one allegation where both physical and sexual abuse were alleged.

Rabies Exposures:

There were thirty-two (32) probable bat-exposure incidents resulting in two hundred sixteen (216) camper and staff exposures during the 2006 camping season. In 20 of these incidents, the bats were not captured and resulted in 129 individuals being recommended for post exposure prophylaxis (PEP). One hundred seven of the victims received the treatment.

In 12 of the incidents, the bat was captured and tested negative for rabies. PEP treatment was avoided for 88 individuals.

One individual was potentially exposed to rabies as a result of a dog bite. PEP administration was not necessary after determining that the dog's rabies vaccination was up-to-date.

Epinephrine Administration:

There were twenty-two incidents in which Epinephrine was administered. Twelve administrations were necessary for bee or wasp stings, one for a bite from an unidentified insect, two for a reactions to allergy treatment, and seven from food allergies. Fourteen Auto-injectors were administered at camps that participate in the Epinephrine Auto-injector program. Four Auto-injectors belonging to the victim were administered at camps that did not participate in the Epinephrine Auto-injector program. One was administered by EMS personnel and one injection was given at a hospital emergency room with a syringe. A total of 151 camps are known to have participated in the Epinephrine Auto-injector program in 2006.


An 11-year-old female camper died after being hit by a vehicle on the street in front of a day camp. The incident occurred as a result of the camper leaving the camp without the knowledge of the camp staff to visit someone she knew across the street. On her return, she was struck by a van and was declared dead on arrival at the hospital. The incident occurred at the end of the day while campers were waiting for transportation home. Inadequate supervision was identified as a contributing factor.

Near Drowning:

A 7-year-old male camper was resuscitated and fully recovered after submerging during a free swim activity at a day camp. The victim, a non-swimmer, was rescued from 3.5 to 4 feet of water after a lifeguard observed him underwater for a "longer than normal" period of time. The investigation revealed that counselors were not actively supervising campers during the swim, non-swimmers were not visually identified and not restricted to water less than chest deep, and the buddy and accountability system were inadequate.

Falls from Bunk Bed:

In 2006 there were no reportable injuries from falls from a bunk bed while sleeping. This represents a substantial reduction from the years prior the 2004 Children's Camp Code amendments in which the bunk bed guardrails requirement was added to the regulation. From 1998 through 2004, a total of 68 injuries (an average of 9.7 a year) occurred as a result of falls from the upper bunk of bunk beds during sleeping. In 2005, there was one injury from a fall which may be attributed to camps being granted time to comply with the new regulation.