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Ohio State University Extension


4-H Camp Active Threat Guidelines

4-H Youth Development
Hannah K. Epley, Assistant Professor, Extension Specialist, 4-H Teen & Camping
Kirk L. Bloir, Assistant Professor, 4-H Associate State Leader

The following are items to consider when planning your camp to help better prepare yourself, staff, and counselors.

  • Camp facility managers should work with their local law enforcement that has jurisdiction over the camp to develop a safety plan for the camp, including determining the best way to communicate given the resources available at the camp facility, as well as identifying where to gather once the threat has passed. Communication strategies may include blasts on air horns, announcements over a P.A. system, broadcast messages through walkie-talkies, etc. When verbal communication is possible, it is the preferred communication method.
  • Camp directors and camp facility managers will work together to share the camp safety plan with staff members, counselors, etc. When possible, work with local law enforcement—such as school resource officers—to provide training on implementing the safety plan.
  • Most of our emergency procedures involve bringing everyone in camp into one place to count heads. In the unlikely event of an armed shooter or other active threats in camp, bringing everyone into one place would actually make things worse. In these instances, a Run.Hide.Fight® procedure should be initiated.
    • This procedure may be initiated by announcing, “Run, Hide, Fight! This is not a drill.” If possible, the announcement should indicate the location of the threatening person so that people can run away from that location.
    • Camp staff and counselors should then gather as many campers as they can and Run.Hide.Fight® in that order of priority, as described below:
      • Run—This is the first choice. Counselors/staff should gather as many campers as they can, and run as far away from the threat as possible. If needed and as available, while staying as safe as possible, get off the camp property and run to a nearby business or residence. When safe and possible, call 911 and report your location, along with the number of others with you, any other information the authorities ask for. Follow the authorities’ instructions.
      • Hide—If running is not an option, counselors/staff should gather as many campers as possible and hide. Where to hide depends on the number of campers the counselor/staff member has with them and their location in camp. If indoors, barricade doors with all available materials and shut off lights. The object is to find protective cover and to conceal yourself from the threat.
      • Fight—If lives are in imminent danger (e.g., the threatening person is right in front of you), and running or hiding is not an option, fighting should be used as the last resort. Attempt to incapacitate the active shooter by using any and all available objects as weapons and to throw at them (e.g., fire extinguisher, chair, hair brush, etc.).
  • If and when the situation has passed and you feel safe, move to the designated gathering location. If you are afraid or do not feel safe, stay hidden and wait for law enforcement to find you as they search the area according to the safety plan.
  • When law enforcement arrives, listen to their instructions, always show your hands with fingers spread apart, and remain calm. Do not attempt to pull officers to any specific injured individuals; they will assess the situation and respond as needed.
  • After the threat has passed and cleared by law enforcement, work with officers, adult and camp staff to re-gather campers and counselors. Assemble to account for attendance.
  • Follow the CFAES Crisis Communications Plan as soon as possible after the threat has been neutralized and everyone is accounted for.

Useful References

A video that may be shared with camp counselors and staff members can be found at: (Homeland Security, February 2015. Options for Consideration Active Shooter Preparedness Video).

The phrase Run.Hide.Fight® is a registered trademark of the city of Houston.

Program Area(s): 
Originally posted Nov 15, 2017.