2007 Children's Camp Incident Summary

In 2007, two thousand eight hundred sixty one (2,861) children's camps were issued permits to operate by local health departments (LHDs) in New York State. Five hundred seventy eight were overnight camps and 2,283 were day camps, including 344 municipal day camps and 25 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 1,467 incidents were reported statewide indicating that approximately 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 State Sanitary Code (SSC) and develop administrative guidance. The following summarizes the 2007 reportable incidents.


Eight hundred seventy six (876) injuries were reported during the 2007 camping season. This represents a substantial decrease in the number of injuries reported each year between 2001 and 2006, which had a high of 1,074 reportable injuries in 2001 and has steadily decreased since 2003.

For the second consecutive year there were no reportable injuries from falls from a bunk bed while sleeping. This represents a substantial reduction from the years prior to the 2004 Children's Camp Code amendments in which the bunk bed guardrails requirement was added to the regulation.


Twenty-one (21) outbreaks were reported. These include eight outbreaks of gastroenteritis (167 cases), four pediculosis outbreaks (28 cases), three conjunctivitis outbreaks (8 cases), two strep throat outbreaks (20 cases), two pneumonia outbreaks (12 cases), and one outbreak each of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus Infection (MRSA) (4 cases), and impetigo (5 cases).

The causative agent for one of the gastroenteritis outbreaks was identified as Calicivirus and accounted for 57 cases of illness. The causative agent for the remaining gastroenteritis outbreaks accounting for 110 cases of illness was not identified.

Other Illness

There were 8 individual cases of MRSA infection reported during the 2007 camp season in addition to the outbreak with four cases reported above. An information packet prepared by NYSDOH Bureau of Communicable Disease Control is planned for distribution prior to the 2008 season to provide operators with procedures to control and limit the spread of MRSA.

Abuse Allegations

Nineteen (19) allegations of abuse with a total of 21 victims were reported. Four victims were alleged to have suffered physical abuse and 17 victims were alleged to have suffered sexual abuse. The alleged perpetrator was a counselor or other staff member in seven incidents (seven victims), another camper in eleven incidents (twelve victims) and a camp visitor in one incident (two victims). Multiple perpetrators were identified in one physical and two sexual abuse allegations.

Rabies Exposures

There were nineteen (19) probable bat-exposure incidents resulting in seventy-two (72) camper and staff exposures during the 2007 camping season. In 11 of these incidents, the bats were not captured and resulted in 26 individuals being recommended for rabies post exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Twenty-five of the victims received the treatment with one victim refusing treatment.

In 8 of the incidents, the bat was captured and tested negative for rabies. PEP treatment was avoided for 46 individuals.

PEP treatment for rabies was avoided for two campers who were bitten by a dog and horse in separate incidents. The animals were determined to be appropriately vaccinated and did not develop rabies subsequent to the bites.

Overall, there has been a significant drop in reported bat exposures from a high of 256 in 2000 and 2001 to 74 this year.

Epinephrine Administration

There were nineteen incidents in which Epinephrine was administered. Eleven administrations were necessary for bee or wasp stings, three for food allergies, three for other allergies, and two resulting from asthma attacks. Camps that participate in the Epinephrine Auto-injector program provided nine Auto-injector administrations. One camper received epinephrine after being transported to the hospital. Nine Auto-injector administrations were to people that did not have their own Epi-pen prescribed to them. These administrations highlight the importance of the Epi-pen program, which allows children's camps to stock and administer Epi-pens to patients that may not know they have a severe allergy, or do not have their own Epi-pen with them.


  1. A ten-year-old female camper died from a heart condition after leaving a day camp after complaining of a headache and feeling very tired. She had participated in normal activities prior to feeling ill and was taken to the infirmary for evaluation. After resting for about forty minutes, the camper was feeling better and rejoined her group. A short time later, she again complained of feeling ill and was subsequently discharged to her mother. While en route home the camper's condition deteriorated and she became unresponsive at home. She was transported by EMS to the hospital where she was pronounced dead. The camper had no known pre-existing medical conditions.
  2. A thirteen-year-old male camper died at an overnight camp from a pre-existing heart condition. The camper was walking along a camp trail with another camper when he collapsed and became unresponsive. Help was immediately summoned, including a physician who performed CPR and used an Automated Electronic Defibrillator to restore a pulse and breathing before EMS transported him to the hospital. In spite of the treatment rendered at the site and in the ambulance, the victim expired during transport to the hospital. The camper was prescribed medication for his known heart condition; however, it is unclear if he was taking the medication while at the camp.
  3. A seventeen-year-old male day camp counselor died from a heart attack after participating in a 10 to 15 minute game of basketball. Following the game, the counselor complained of chest pain and shortness of breath, and camp staff immediately called 911. EMS arrived and transported the victim to the Emergency Room where he died. The victim had no known pre-existing medical conditions and was not taking any medications.

Incident Summary Report Graphs