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Ohio State University Extension


Camp Management Frequently Asked Questions

4-H Youth Development
Hannah Epley, OSU Extension, 4-H Youth Development
Kirk Bloir, OSU Extension, 4-H Youth Development
Jeff Dick, OSU Extension, 4-H Youth Development

The Ohio 4-H Camping Annual Requirements document outlines the required activities, training, documentation, planning, etc. when conducting 4-H camps in Ohio. In addition, the Camp Facility Management Administration document provides key items to consider when 4-H camp program directors plan programs. Both of these documents are found on the Intranet portion of the Ohio 4-H website under the Camp Management heading. The following items were questions asked regarding this document and other camping requirements and best practices. The document is intended to assist individuals who serve as 4-H camp program directors as they plan camp programs. They are not in any particular order or relevance. Similar questions are grouped under a heading of related content. 

Health Forms, Assessments, and Physical Expectations

  1. Is it OK to alter the Ohio 4-H health form? Or can another health form be used? 
    • It is the best practice/preferred method to use the statewide form. However, camp facilities have the option to use their own form. (They can add to or make more stringent, if needed; e.g., include information regarding high ropes course, etc. Nothing should be omitted, but additional requirements/information can be added to the state approved form.) 
  2. Can the OSU photo release be included on the health form? 
    • The OSU photo release is included on the Ohio 4-H Health form. 
  3. What is the purpose to have a photo included with the health form? 
    • On the form, it asks for a photograph “for I.D. purposes only.” The intent is to easily help identify individuals for distribution of medication and in case of an emergency. 
  4. Does a participant need to include a photo on their health form? 
    • If someone asks if the photo is required, answer yes. However if the participant arrives to camp without a photo, the best practice is to have a Polaroid camera/digital camera to then print or send to the camp facility manager to print. 
  5. On the new health form, is there a place for parents to document that there have been health changes since the form was completed? 
    • No, there is not a place included on the actual health form. The best practice is to have a health screening process during camp check-in registration that asks about any changes to the health form. This process can be:
      • A nurse or other trusted adult screens each individual (camper, counselor, adult staff) without medication (e.g., you forgot to sign the form; did you really mean for your child to not be able to have Tylenol if they have a headache, etc.).
      • A nurse checks all individuals with medication/medical needs including health or safety concerns on the health assessment form that requires additional information that may have changes upon completion of the health form. Individuals would discuss what these concerns are with the nurse prior to the camp check-in. 
  6. What do camp program directors need to do if someone wants camp staff to treat their child with herbal remedies? 
    • Herbal remedies should be treated similarly as an over-the-counter (OTC) medication a parent provided at camp to distribute to their participant. The parent should give instructions to the medical professional on how to proceed. 
  7. Do camp program directors require or not require immunization policies? 
    • The Ohio 4-H Health Form has a check box that states, “To the best of knowledge, the participant is up-to-date on all immunizations which may include, but is not limited to: Diphtheria/Pertussis (Whooping Cough-TDAP), Polio, Measles/Rubella/Mumps (MMR), Haemophilus Influenza (HIB), Varicella (Chickenpox) that are required for school.” There is also a check box that requests the date the participant last received a Tetanus booster. If the participant is not current or up-to-date with immunizations, parents/participants are asked to complete the Ohio 4-H Immunization Exemption Form. This form requests a parent’s signature acknowledging that during the course of an outbreak of any of the diseases their child has not received immunization for, that their child may be subject to exclusion from camp for the duration of the outbreak for health and safety reasons. 
  8. Should camp program directors conduct a health check (including lice check) upon participant arrival? 
    • The best practice is to have a trained adult (training by the camp nurse is sufficient) check each participant upon arrival to camp. If lice or other disqualifying illness (fever, rash, etc.) is suspected, the nurse and camp program director will make the final determination of participant participation. 
  9. How can camp program directors inform our counselors/campers about the physical demands of camp? 
    • If you have a physically demanding camp, put in your job description for the counselors something to the effect of, “there are varying levels of activity throughout the day, with the majority of the activities taking place outdoors in varying climate conditions (likely high humidity and high heat). Counselors should be able to walk 1–2 miles carrying 10–15 pounds without need for rest.” 
    • A statement about the physical demands of camp for campers is included in the standard health form. It would also be appropriate to put in camper registration/recruitment materials a statement similar to the following:
      • Youth may not benefit from the full enjoyment of the camp experience if they have limitations that would impede participation in the majority of camp activities. If you have concerns about your participant’s physical limitations, please contact the 4-H professional to discuss options.
        • You can require the participant to bring a full-time provider with that child if deemed necessary. 
        • Contact the Associate State 4-H Leader, Field Specialist for Volunteerism and 4-H Community Clubs, or 4-H Camping and Older Youth Specialist if you have questions about reasonable accommodations. 

Records Retention

  1. What exactly does “active records” mean when dealing with camp; the last year the child was actually at camp, or the last year they are eligible to attend? 
    • Active means the last year the child was actually at camp. Forms and roster would be kept for current year of the camp in addition to one prior year (e.g., for the program year 2014 will have 2014 and 2013 records). 
  2.  Where do the items mentioned in records retention need to be stored? 
    • The best practice is to maintain the forms at the county level with the camp program director. 
    • If it is desired for the camp facility manager/campsite to maintain the records, this is acceptable if a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is created and sent to the particular camp board corporation to access if needed. Each county should also have their own record of this MOU. This MOU would contain who is in control of the forms, location the forms are stored (specific to building, cabinet, etc.), who has access to the information, and signatures from both parties. If this MOU changes at any point in time, both parties (camp program director and camp facility manager) must sign a document verifying this.
      • This could also be done vice versa for the camp facilities, if desired. 

Incident/Injury Form

  1. Is there a unified incident/injury form? Is it just for 4-H or for all Extension? 
    • Yes. It has been posted on the Ohio 4-H website, under the Intranet portion of the webpage. It is just approved for the 4-H program, but other Extension programs may use it if desired. 
  2. Do camp program directors need to complete two separate incident/injury forms if child abuse is suspected or occurs? 
    • For incidents at camp that include child abuse/neglect, camp program directors will need to complete the incident/injury form in addition to the child abuse and neglect incident report, found at
      • This is a point to note when training counselors: Camp program directors need to be clear with camp counselors. Hazing of any kind will not be tolerated, and it will be reported!
    • If abuse/neglect is just suspected, the HR form (found at the website; go link: needs to be completed complying with Policy 1.50. Camp program directors will not need to also complete the separate accident/incident form. 
  3. What constitutes an incident? Who uses the form? Does it replace or complement any report/log filed by the nurse? 
    • What constitutes an incident: Anything that could or did lead to an accident or serious consequence. This includes participant/staff behavior.
      • If it is a medical or behavioral incident that may cause concern in the future, it is also appropriate to document the incident. 
      • Contact the Associate State 4-H Leader, Field Specialist for Volunteerism and 4-H Community Clubs, or 4-H Camping and Older Youth Specialist you have further questions on this. If in doubt, document the incident/injury. 
    • Use of form: The form should be completed by the camp programming director, with assistance from the person who witnessed the incident and nurse, as needed. 
    • If the incident/injury is medically related, the form complements the report log filed by the camp nurse. Examples include if a youth obtains medical treatment beyond what is provided by the camp nurse, is a head injury, is a reoccurring accident, or involves a pest. 

Adult Training

  1. Do camp staff (nurse, adult volunteers that are not club volunteers) need fingerprints each year since camp is their main 4-H activity? 
    • Policy 1.50 says if there is a break in service greater than 12 months, they need to be fingerprinted when restarting their service. It would benefit Ohio 4-H to have a way to include them (newsletter list, come to volunteer banquet, etc.) throughout the year. However, if they miss a year of service, they would need to get fingerprinted again. 
  2. Do camp staff (nurse, adult volunteers that are not club volunteers) need to attend volunteer training each year?
    • Yes, this applies to all volunteers (including camp nurses) in Policy 1.50. This is likely a change from previous years. The training is at the discretion of the county 4-H professional but must include information outlined in Policy 1.50. 

Counselor Ages 

  1. What if there are challenges with having enough counselors who are ages 16–18? If adults, college students or older, serve as camp counselors, are two required to be in each cabin?
    • Ideally, there will be a minimum of two counselors in a cabin, regardless of the cabin occupancy or counselor age. If the camp facilities make having more than two counselors per cabin a challenge, have a conversation with the Associate State 4-H Leader, Field Specialist for Volunteerism and 4-H Community Clubs, or 4-H Camping and Older Youth Specialist so they can ensure appropriate actions are in place. 
    • The best practice is having two 16-17-18 year olds in a cabin. The next best practice is one 16-17-18 and a 14-15 year old. The third best practice is having a secondary plan to provide guidance in the absence of the counselor. 
    • Regardless of age, all individuals should be trained, selected, etc.
  2. In the past, if a child needed to use the restroom in the middle of the night, they were instructed to wake up a counselor. The two of them have then gone to the adult cabin to get an adult to accompany them to the restroom so the second counselor can stay with the campers in the cabin. This means that the camper and counselor don’t have a group of three until they get to the adult’s cabin. Is this OK, or is there a better way to do this?
    • Ideally, there will be a total of three individuals at all times—going to the restroom or getting the adult staff. This could be two campers and a counselor, etc.—there should be at least one counselor or adult in this group in the middle of the night. The next best practice is having a “third shift” of adult staff monitoring the cabins, etc., at night so they could witness any activity from the campers and counselors if there were just two people walking around at camp. 

Background Checks for 18+ Year Old Counselors that are 4-H Members

  1. Can Extension money be used to pay for 4-H member’s background checks?
    • Ohio 4-H has not been told that this cannot happen yet. Camp program directors would need to check with the county director for how funds can be distributed. 
  2. Are there any further instructions on having 18 year olds complete their BCI background checks? Should information be included in the counselor acceptance letter or can it wait until the first meeting with the counselors? 
    • If a counselor will turn 18 at least 60 days prior to the start of camp, they need to have their BCI fingerprint background check run after they turn 18. (Information to note about attaining fingerprints: use Code 2151.86. If they have not lived in Ohio for the last 5 years, they must also have an FBI background check. Yes, this includes attending college of state.)
      • The reason for the date is this is because the turnaround time is 30 days, so there is a cushion with timing. 
    • Camp program directors are responsible for notifying these individuals. They can choose the delivery method of notifying the counselors about this policy. The individuals need to wait until they have turned 18 prior to getting their BCI report completed.
  3. Once those individuals who need background checks have been identified, what needs to be done regarding sending information to the state?
    • This information needs to be sent to the Office of Human Resources (OHR) and be entered into 4-H Online. This is the same process as adult volunteers. To enter into 4-H Online:
      • On the Additional Information page of the member’s profile, complete the section titled “18 Yr Old Camp Counselors.”
      • The State Office will enter the date in which they receive their background report.
      • Also, remember to add the youth to the group, “18 Yr Old Camp Counselor” in the Participation screen.
    • If you have a counselor that is serving in two counties; e.g., county A and county B needs more male counselors, county B will also need to enter the counselor into that county’s database, even though the counselor is in county A’s 4-H program.
  4. These background checks for the counselors are good for four years, right?
    • Yes. As long as there is not a break in service greater than 12 months. 

Screenshot of Participation screen

Counselor Training Hours/Competencies

  1. Is the 15 Competencies training requirement outlined in the annual requirements a requirement or best practice? 
    • The number of training hours listed in the Annual 4-H Camping Requirements is a requirement. 
    • Covering the competency topics throughout the counselor training is a best practice.
  2. What are the competencies camp program directors need to cover? 
    • Competencies and key actions are identified on the Ohio 4-H website Intranet under Camp Management. 
  3. Are counselor training materials packaged in a curriculum? 
    • As of now, Ohio 4-H does not have training resources packaged for counselor training, but is working to meet this need. When it is available, it will be shared with camp program directors. 
  4. Do all counselors or just new counselors need to have on-site training (2 hours mandatory) at some point before beginning their supervision of campers? 
    • Yes, this needs to be 2 hours for new/first time counselors. 

American Camp Association (ACA) Requirements

  1. The Ohio 4-H Camping Annual Requirements do not match ACA requirements. What should camp program directors do? 
    • The Ohio 4-H Camping Annual Requirements are the basic requirements. Campsites can go above and beyond to meet ACA or other requirements. 
  2. Can a third category be added to the Ohio 4-H Camping Annual Requirements document with ACA requirements? As it stands, it’s hard to know what’s required by Ohio 4-H, what’s a best practice, and what’s an ACA requirement. 
    • This information is Ohio 4-H’s current requirements. Many of them stem from ACA requirements. ACA standards are something for all camp facilities to strive to attain, as they are more stringent, but 4-H professionals should consult with their camp facility manager for the need of ACA requirements, as they change regularly. 

Day vs. Resident Camp/Cloverbuds

  1. What policies and procedures differ for day versus resident camps? Many counties have young counselors especially at Cloverbud day camps. 
    • There are not any policies or procedures that differ. The only policy that may vary is in regards to the ages of counselors and staff to camper ratios because many day camps have younger campers, and would in turn need more staff members to monitor campers. The age requirement is the same for both types of camps; 14–15 years old by camp time. 
  2. What are the overnight policies for Cloverbud campers? 
    • Refer to the Policies for the Ohio 4-H Cloverbud Program document that outlines policies for implementing Cloverbud 4-H Guidelines in Camp Settings. 

If you have additional questions or need additional clarification, please direct them to Hannah Epley,, Kirk Bloir,, or Jeff Dick,

Program Area(s): 
Originally posted Jan 13, 2016.