How to Obtain a Permit to Operate a Children's Camp in New York State

This brochure outlines the steps to follow to receive a permit to operate a children's camp in New York State. Listed are minimum staff requirements, required forms and the written safety plan that must be completed. Additional information is provided in Subpart 7-2 of the State Sanitary Code and Department of Health fact sheets. Local health department staff serving the county where your proposed children's camp is to be located are available to discuss and review these requirements with you.

An application for a permit to operate a children's camp and other required documents must be submitted to the permit-issuing official at your local health department at least 60 days before children and staff are to arrive. The local health department will review your submissions and arrange a preseason inspection of the children's camp. If submissions are incomplete, items requiring additional information will be identified for correction and resubmission, which could delay proposed opening dates. The earlier the submission, the more timely the review.

The center of this brochure provides a consolidated reference to key staff positions at overnight and day camps. Requirements for camps hosting 20 percent or more campers with developmental disabilities are provided in Section 7-2.25. Staff requirements for swimming, archery, riflery and equestrian activities are provided in Section 7-2.11. Children's camp operators must ascertain whether prospective employees are listed on the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services Sex Offender Registry prior to hiring them.


Children's Camp Staff Requirements Required
Certifications1
Title Responsibilities Required Minimum Ratio of Staff to Campers Qualifications/Requirements in Addition to Listed Certifications Overnight Camp Day Camp F
A
C
P
R
L
G
L
G
S
M
P
S
I
ADMINISTRATIVE
CAMP DIRECTOR
  • Supervises children's camp
1 Required Bachelor's Degree Or at least 25-years-old Or at least 21-years-old
  • At least 24 weeks of administrative or supervising experience in camping
  • Submit forms LDSS-3370 and DOH-2271 for clearance
Required Required
HEALTH PERSONNEL
CAMP HEALTH DIRECTOR
  • Supervises health and sanitation at children's camp
  • Maintains camper's confidential medical history
  • Oversees initial health screening of campers and daily health surveillance of camp occupants
  • Handles health emergencies and injuries, including emergency preparedness and provisions for professional health care
  • Maintains camp's daily medical log
  • Reports required incidents to local health department within 24 hours
1 Required Physician‡, nurse practitioner‡, physician assistant‡, registered nurse‡, licensed practical nurse‡, emergency medical technician or other person acceptable to the permit-issuing official
(‡ To practice profession in New York State, must be NYS licensed)
Must be on-site Designee identified in medical component of safety plan may be on-site for the Camp Health Director checkmark checkmark      
Additional STAFF required to possess FIRST AID
  • Identified in medical component of plan as assistant(s) to health director
1:200   1:200 ratio in addition to health director or on-site designee 1:200 ratio includes the health director (when on-site) or on-site designee star        
STAFF required to possess CPR in addition to Camp Health Director or designee
  • Identified in medical component of plan as assistant(s) to health director
1:200 Note: On-site aquatic staff possessing appropriate CPR certification may be counted in this ratio       star      
AQUATICS PERSONNEL
CAMP AQUATICS DIRECTOR
  • Establishes and oversees all swimming activities at the camp's pool or beach
  • Supervises all staff and campers participating in swimming activities
  • Responds to bathing facility emergencies
  • When certified as Lifeguard, may serve as LIFEGUARD at waterfront
  • When qualified to be a Progressive Swimming Instructor, may assess swimming ability
  • Implements/oversees buddy system and board system or other approved bather accountability system
1 Required for on-site bathing facilities
  • At least 21-years-old
  • Have a minimum of:
    • 1 season experience as a camp aquatics director at a NYS camp; or
    • 2 seasons experience consisting of at least 12 weeks as a children's camp lifeguard at a pool or beach which had more than one lifeguard supervising it at a time; or
    • 18 weeks of previous experience as a lifeguard at a pool or beach, which had more than one lifeguard supervising it at a time.
      star   star  
PROGRESSIVE SWIMMING INSTRUCTOR (PSI)
  • Assesses swimming ability of campers
  • May teach swimming
  • May be Camp Aquatics Director if age, experience and CPR certification requirements are met
1 Required for Swimming Ability Assessment for On-site and Off-site Bathing Facilities               star
LIFEGUARD
  • Actively guards bathers during swimming activities
  • Responds to bathing facility emergencies
1:25 Required at on-site facilities and during camp trip swimming when off-site facility does not provide qualified lifeguards
  • Must be at least 17-years-old for on-site and camp trip swimming (50% of required total number of lifeguards on duty may be 16)
  • Wilderness swimming lifeguards must be at least 18-years-old
  • Each guard shall not supervise more than 3400 square feet of pool area and no more than 50 yards of beach front
  star star    
Must meet requirements of Part 6 of the State Sanitary Code
LIFEGUARD OR STAFF POSSESSING ACCEPTABLE TRAINING IN CAMP TRIP SWIMMING PROGRAM SAFETY
  • Oversees off-site swimming activity
  • Implements/oversees buddy system and board system or other approved bather accountability system
1:75 Required for camp trip swimming when facility provides qualified lifeguards
(Not required for aquatic amusement park activities that allow only one or two patrons in the water at a time and the activity water depth does not exceed chest deep for non-swimmers)
  • Lifeguards must meet qualifications as specified above
  • When a camp trip is to a bathing facility that provides qualified lifeguards, staff possessing acceptable training in camp trip swimming program safety may be substituted for staff possessing lifeguard certification
        square    
COUNSELORS DURING SWIMMING
  • Supervise campers and be located at poolside, beachfront, or in the water providing visual surveillance
  • Assist with buddy system
On-Site / Off-Site   See COUNSELORS for additional requirements.
1:10 / 1:8 For campers 8-years-old or older
1:8 / 1:8 For campers 6- and 7-years-old
1:6 / 1:6 For campers less than 6-years-old
CAMP TRIPS
TRIP LEADER
  • Supervises campers and staff
  • Must be competent in trip activity for wilderness, equestrian, aquatic and other activities requiring special skills
1 Required to accompany each trip
  • At least 18-years-old
  • Have participated in at least 3 similar out-of-camp trips as camp staff or have experience/training acceptable to the Local Health Department
    triangle triangle      
COUNSELORS DURING CAMP TRIPS
At least one counselor must accompany the trip leader on each trip
  • Assist Trip Leader
  • Supervise campers
Additional trip STAFF required for specialized activities such as swimming, wilderness, equestrian and boating See COUNSELORS for additional requirements.
1:8 For campers 6-years and older
1:6 For campers less than 6-years-old
MOTOR VEHICLE TRANSPORTATION
DRIVER  
  • At least 18-years-old
  • Possess current driver's license appropriate for vehicle
             
STAFF
  • Supervise campers
1:12 May also be driver See COUNSELORS for additional requirements          
ON-SITE SUPERVISION
ACTIVITY LEADER 1 Required for each on-site activity
  • Must be competent in activity
  • At least 18-years-old for hiking, camping, rock climbing, horseback riding bicycling, swimming, or boating
    diamond diamond      
COUNSELORS
  • Supervise campers

Note:

  • Specialized Activities, see Section 7-2.11 of the SSC
  • Passive Activities, see Section 7-2.5(b)(1) of the SSC
  • Rest or Sleep Hours, see Section 7-2.5(c)(1) of the SSC
At least one counselor must accompany the activity leader when the activity occurs at a location where additional staff assistance is not readily available Camp operator must verify prospective counselor's background and character through inquiries, including character references          
1:10 At overnight camps, for campers 8-years and older
  • At least 18-years of age (20% may be 17)
  • Have experience in camping and supervising children OR acceptable training
  • At least 16-years-old
  • Have experience in camping and supervising children OR acceptable training
1:8 At overnight camps, for campers younger than 8-years-old
1:12 At day camps, for all campers
Additional STAFF required for specialized activities such as wilderness, equestrian, boating etc
1:8 For campers 6-years and older
1:6 For campers less than 6-years-old
COUNSELORS-IN-TRAINING (CITs)
When a children's camp elects to use CITs to assist counselors with supervision of campers
A maximum of 10% of the staff positions required to meet supervision ratios may be filled with CITs
  • Are supervised as campers
  • Have at least 2 seasons of prior camping experience
  • Must work with counselors; may not independently supervise campers
At least 16-years-old At least 15-years-old          
1 Obtain current NYSDOH Fact Sheets from your local health department for acceptable First Aid, CPR and Aquatic Certifications
FA First Aid
CPR Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
LG Lifeguard
LGSM Lifeguard Supervision and Management
PSI Progressive Swimming Instructor
check Health director or designee as identified in medical component of safety plan
star Required
diamond Activity Leader or designee must posses CPR and First Aid when other camp staff who are certified in first aid and CPR are not readily available.
triangle Trip Leader or designee must posses CPR and First Aid when a trip activity is higher risk, such as hiking, camping, rock climbing, horseback riding, bicycling, swimming or boating and/or when emergency medical response is not readily available. Two staff must posses CPR when swimming at wilderness sites.
square Trip leader or designee must possess Lifeguard certification or acceptable training in children's camp swimming program safety when trip includes swimming. Contact your local health department for more information.

Required Submissions Instructions
Application for a Permit to Operate (DOH-3915) Instructions are included on form.
Corporation Officers and Partners (DOH-2135) Complete only if children's camp is operated or owned by private corporations(s) or partnership(s).
Children's Camp Fee Determination Schedule Form Self explanatory.
Plan Review Fee Determination Schedule (DOH-2249) Complete only for new building or bathing facility construction or major renovations.
Children's Camp Facility and Staff Description (DOH-367) Self explanatory. Important Information.
Children's Camp Additional Staff Qualifications (DOH-367a) Complete only when directed to by the local health department.
Written Safety Plan A comprehensive written safety plan must be developed by the children's camp operator to reflect how the camp will operate in compliance with Subpart 7-2, State Sanitary Code for Children's Camps. A template is available. The safety plan is to be used for staff and camper training, general operation of the camp, emergency procedures, etc. The safety plan should reflect the camp's policies and procedure for a safe operation.
Written Plan Checklist (DOH-2040) or Health Department Safety Plan Template Use this form to assure completeness of the written safety plan.
State Central Register Database Check (LDSS-3370) and Prospective Children's Camp Director Certified Statement (DOH-2271) Camp director completes in accordance with supplied instructions. Return to local health department

Additional Information

Additional information is available from your local health department and/or the NYS Department of Health website, including:

Contact Us

Center for Environmental Health
Bureau of Community Environmental Health & Food Protection
Empire State Plaza-Corning Tower, Room 1395
Albany, New York 12237

Email: bcehfp@health.ny.gov

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