Children's Camps Operators and Health Departments

In New York State, summer camps must have a state, city, or county health department permit to operate legally. These permits are issued only if the camp is in compliance with the state's health regulations. The permit to operate must be displayed in a conspicuous place on the premises.

Permitted children's camps must be inspected twice yearly, including at least once before opening and during the time the camp is operating. Each camp is checked to make sure that the physical facilities are safe and that supervision is adequate.

Requirements for Children's Camps in New York State outlines the steps to follow to receive a permit to operate a children's camp in New York State.

Children's camps must operate in compliance with Subpart 7-2 of the New York State Sanitary Code. Some jurisdictions may have local regulations in addition to the Subparts below. Please contact the local health department that has jurisdiction in the county or city where the camp is located for regulation and permit questions.

Standards for CPR, first aid, and aquatic certifications are specified in the children’s camp regulations for certain camp staff. The fact sheets listed below describe the training courses that have been determined to be acceptable for these positions.

Additional certification requirements can be found at Information for Swimming Pool, Bathing Beach, and Recreational Aquatic Spray Ground Operators.

Children’s camp operators are required to develop, review annually, update, and implement a written safety plan. This plan must be submitted to the local health department that has jurisdiction in the county or city where the camp is located for their review and approval. Camp operators may complete the applicable templates below to fulfill safety plan requirements.

Activity-Specific Plans:

Swimming and boating at children’s camps are popular camp activities. The following documents describe the requirements and guidance for these activities.

Illness can quickly change a pleasant camp visit into a difficult experience for campers and staff. The following information is provided to help prevent and limit illnesses.

Individual camp policy may choose to recommend or require specific immunizations of their campers or staff. For the optimal health and safety of all campers and camp staff, the NYSDOH strongly recommends that all campers and staff meet the age appropriate immunization schedule as set forth by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Learn more about recommended immunizations.

Children’s camp facilities must comply with all state and local building code regulations, as well as specific requirements in the children’s camp regulations. The New York State Department of Health has developed guidance for camp operators on various topics. Please contact the local health department that has jurisdiction in the county or city where the camp is located for more information.

The operator of a children's camp with an off-site or on-site potable water system that is not subject to continuous water use must ensure that an acceptable annual start-up procedure is completed. Start-up procedures, including required sampling, must be completed at least 15 days prior to opening for the season.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission provides recommendations focused on playground-related injuries in its Public Playground Safety Handbook.

Public Health Law § 1396(2) prohibits, with some exceptions, the application of pesticides to any playground, turf or athletic or playing field at children's camps. The following guidance was developed in cooperation with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to help children’s camp operators comply with outdoor pesticide application restrictions.

Camps are usually located in areas that are prime habitat for bats and other wildlife, and the type of construction in camp buildings is often conducive to roosting bats. Bats are frequently encountered in the camp setting. If people are sleeping in cabins with bats, or children are handling bats found on the ground, rabies exposures can occur. Bats that are infected with rabies are often mistaken for injured animals when they are found flopping around on the ground. Abnormal behavior seen in rabid bats includes being on the ground, landing on someone, and flying during the day. Occasionally, there is no obvious abnormal behavior, so all contact with bats and other wild animals should be reported to the camp nurse.

Camps for Children with Developmental Disabilities are camps that have an enrollment of 20% or more campers with developmental disabilities as defined in section 7-2.2(d) of Subpart 7-2 of the State Sanitary Code any time during the season. Requirements include staff screening and training and incident reporting/management.

See Requirements for Campers with Disabilities at Children’s Camps Guide and Frequently Asked Questions for additional guidance that applies to all camps enrolling one or more campers with a physical or developmental disability.

The New York State Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs provides additional compliance information.

The following forms may be needed for operators of children's camps. Please contact the local health department that has jurisdiction in the county or city where the camp is located for more information.

This information below is available as a PDF.

Children's camp operators are required to determine whether an employee or volunteer at the camp is listed on the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) Sex Offender Registry. Checks of the Registry must be completed prior to the day the employee or volunteer starts work at the camp and annually thereafter prior to their arrival at camp. The law applies to all children's camps (day, traveling day and overnight) and to all prospective employees and volunteers at the camp regardless of their job title/responsibilities or employment status (full or part time).

How to Conduct a Search

A search of the Sex Offender Registry is a free and simple service provided by DCJS. Search requests may be submitted by email, CD, fax, regular mail, and telephone depending upon the number of individuals requested to be checked against the Registry. Procedures for submitting search requests are available from DCJS.

Please note that at this time, the feature on the DCJS website for conducting a web based search of the Registry does not satisfy the requirement for camps because the web based search only identifies Risk Level 2 and 3 offenders.

DCJS Response

The DCJS prefers responding to requests to search the Registry by fax; however, they will respond by regular mail if a fax number is not available/provided. DCJS's response will indicate the total number of individuals checked against the Registry and either the names of the individuals listed on the Registry and their risk level, or that no matches were found. The list of employees/volunteers submitted to be searched will not be returned by DCJS unless specifically requested by the camp operator with the initial search request submittal. Results of search requests made by telephone will be provided during the phone call.

Risk Levels

Sex offenders are classified according to their risk of re-offending. The court may assign one of the following three risk levels:

  • Level 1 – low risk of repeat offense;
  • Level 2 – moderate risk of repeat offense; or
  • Level 3 – high risk of repeat offense.

Note – While waiting a risk level assignment from the court, an individual is categorized as "Pending."


A copy of prospective employee's or volunteer's information submitted to DCJS and letter from DCJS indicating the search results must be kept on file at camp and available for review during Health Department inspections. Camps that use the telephone screening process must document the screening date, DCJS response and DCJS screener ID number.

The State Camp Safety Advisory Council was established in accordance with Public Health Law Article 13-A, Section 1390. The State Camp Safety Advisory Council consists of nine members representing New York State for-profit camps, not-for-profit camps, municipal camps, consumer interests, and children's interests. The Council meets at least twice a year to advise and consult the Department of Health on policy matters relating to youth camp safety.

An incident surveillance system is maintained to assess the health and safety at children's camps. Camp operators are required to report serious injuries, illnesses, potential rabies exposures, administrations of epinephrine, and allegations of camper abuse to local health departments. View the 2023 Incident Summary Report.

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