2009 Children's Camp Incident Summary

In 2009, 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 over 900,000 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, who investigate the incidents and enter information into an electronic database. A total of 1,176 incidents (3243 victims) were reported statewide, indicating that less than four-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 2009 reportable incidents.


Nine hundred twenty eight (928) injuries were reported during the 2009 camping season. This represents a slight increase in the number of injuries reported when compared to the 900 injuries reported in 2008.


Ninety-five (95) illness outbreaks were reported. These include sixty-one outbreaks of influenza-like illness (ILI) (1600 cases), seven Pediculosis outbreaks (54 cases), six strep throat outbreaks (26 cases), five gastrointestinal illness outbreaks (91 cases), four conjunctivitis outbreaks (15 cases), two impetigo outbreaks (13 cases), one outbreak each of febrile illness (55 cases), noro-like virus (43 cases), mumps (25 cases), Folliculitis (16 cases), Staphylococcus aureus infection (5 cases), Fifth's disease (4 cases), Chicken pox (2 cases), E. coli 0157 (2 cases) and a cold type virus (seven cases).

A chlorine gas inhalation incident was reported at a day camp. Seventy-three campers were swimming at an off-site pool when campers began to experience eye irritation. The pool area was evacuated and three campers were treated by EMS at the scene until their parents picked them up. It was determined that a chlorine gas resulting from an employee mistakenly adding Sodium Hypochlorite (chlorine) to the acid crock causing the chlorine gas to form.

On August 18, 2009, the New York State Department of Health was notified of mumps cases at an overnight children's camp serving approximately 400 boys. The index patient was an 11-year-old boy, who had onset of symptoms on June 28 after returning from the United Kingdom where a mumps outbreak is ongoing. A total of 25 cases were reported including laboratory confirmed and probable cases based on an evaluation by a medical doctor. Additionally, 97 suspect cases were identified. After the summer, the outbreak spread from the camp and gradually increased in size to become the largest US mumps outbreak since 2006, according to the CDC. The outbreak highlights the importance of identifying and reporting mumps in the camp setting to allow for a quick effective response to prevent or reduce additional exposure. This was the second mumps outbreak in a camp since 2005.

The 2009 camp season began as New York State and the world was responding to the emerging pandemic of novel influenza A (H1N1). Due to the significant impact on the camp season, New York State's experience with the illness is addressed in a separate report entitled "2009 Report of New York State Influenza-Like Illness at Children's Camps."

Abuse Allegations

Thirteen (13) allegations of abuse against 13 campers were reported. Six victims were alleged to have suffered physical abuse, and seven victims were alleged to have suffered sexual abuse. The alleged perpetrator was a counselor or other staff member in nine incidents, another camper in three incidents and a trespasser on the grounds in one incident. Multiple perpetrators were identified in one sexual abuse allegation.

Rabies Exposures

There were twenty-one (21) probable bat-exposure incidents resulting in eighty-nine (89) potential camper and staff rabies exposures during the 2009 camping season. In 11 of these incidents, the bats were not captured and resulted in 33 individuals being recommended for rabies post exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Thirty-one of the victims received the treatment, and two victims refused treatment.

In 10 of the incidents, the bat was captured and tested negative for rabies. PEP treatment was avoided for 57 individuals.

There were no incidents involving potential exposure to rabies from contact with a mammal other than a bat.

Epinephrine Administration

There were twenty-one incidents in which Epinephrine was administered. Eight administrations were necessary for bee or wasp stings, nine for food allergies, three for other allergies and one due to the bite of an unidentified insect. Camps that participate in the Epinephrine Auto-injector program provided four auto-injector administrations. In four cases, the patient's personal epi-pen was administered and one case an EMT administered the epinephrine from the ambulance's supply during transport to a hospital.

Epinephrine was administered in twelve instances where the camp was not identified as participating in the epi-pen program. Of these, six personal epi-pens were administered to the individuals for whom they were prescribed; five of the epi-pen were as listed as a camp's supply; and in one case, the camp nurse obtained an epi-pen from a counselor who had the epi-pen prescribed for her own use.


An 8-year-old male developmentally disabled camper died at an overnight camp specializing in children with disabilities. The camper was found unresponsive in his bunk at approximately 7:10 AM when his counselor attempted to wake him. Efforts to revive him by the camp's medical staff and EMS were unsuccessful. The cause of death was listed as an Idiopathic Seizure Disorder. The camper was known to suffer seizures and was on medication to control them.


There were 3 incidents which required resuscitation of a camper. Two of the 3 resuscitations were a result of submersion during a swimming activity. The third incident was a result of a self-inflicted injury.

The first swimming related resuscitation occurred at a pool that was operated by the camp. The incident occurred when a 14-year-old developmentally disabled non-swimmer swam into the deep end of the pool. A lifeguard on the deck of the deep end of the pool observed the camper swim under the floating rope and into the deep end of the pool. When forward progress was stopped, the lifeguard entered the pool and removed the camper from approximately 9 feet of water. The second resuscitation during a swimming activity occurred at a water park during a camp trip. The camper was a 7-year-old male non-swimmer who was in a wave pool in water that was greater than chest deep. The child was observed by the facility lifeguard to submerge after a wave passed. In both cases, prompt recognition and action by the lifeguards on duty resulted in the victims being quickly revived and having a full recovery. However, the incidents highlight the importance of restricting non-swimmers to water that is less than chest deep during swimming activities.

The third resuscitation incident was the result of a self-inflicted injury by a distraught camper following an altercation with another camper. After the altercation, the distraught camper suspended himself by a belt around his neck from the support beams in the bathroom. The camper was quickly found and treated by camp medical staff and EMS before being air lifted to Westchester Medical Center. The camper had a full recovery with no lasting injuries.

Incident Summary Report Graphs