For many camps, nearly all, transportation is a key element of the program. Whether this transportation be to camp in general, or around camp’s property, it’s important to consider all that goes in to getting campers and staff where they need to be, safely and effectively. Having drivers who are distracted or vehicles that are not well maintained can lend itself to some dangerous situations and be a risk that’s not worth taking. Ball and Ball sum this up by saying, “transportation of campers and staff provides one of the key areas of potential liability to camps” (284).
There are many avenues you can take when deciding how transportation will be provided, whether that be through owning, leasing/renting, or chartering. Ball and Ball lay out a chart of the advantages and disadvantages of each and note that although ownership may be more expensive at the start, it may be cheaper overall. And vice versa for chartering and leasing. They state, “some advantages can become disadvantages in certain circumstances, so carefully consider the cost, availability of qualified personnel, and the amount of use necessary” (286). In other words, if you’re going to need a vehicle for the same task over and over again, it would be foolish to keep renting the vehicle instead of merely investing in owning one.
Drivers are also key in that they must be experienced in driving with many kids and also knowledgeable in the maintenance of a vehicle. If the driver is unfamiliar with driving a certain vehicle, anything from a golf cart to a 12 passenger van, “training should be provided…with that particular type of vehicle” (Ball and Ball, 286). Not only that, but some vehicles require special licenses, many times regardless of the number of people, but more pertaining to the weight of the vehicle itself. Ball and Ball remark that vehicles require a Commercial Driver License when, “a vehicle is designed to carry 16 or more persons or is in excess of 26,000 pounds” (286). Drivers should always be assigned ahead of time, but also being sure to assign drivers in case of unscheduled trips or in the case of an emergency is important as well (Ball and Ball, 287).
Maintenance of vehicles is crucial as well because the prolong the longevity of the vehicle itself and protect against break downs or potential harm to the riders. A written maintenance plan should be kept and should include: oil changes and repairs, fully stocked first aid kits and risk management tools, safety checks, and quarterly mechanical evaluations (Ball and Ball, 288). “The best driver is dangerous in a poorly maintained vehicle” meaning that if the vehicle is unsafe, it doesn’t matter how good the driver is, everyone is still at risk (288). A great idea along with this maintenance is bringing students into the mix. What I mean is that, as you do a quick sweep through before the trip begins ask students to join you in checking tire pressure, oil, and other parts of the car. Of course, do what is age appropriate and safe, but it gives students great life skills along with allowing you to do a great check of the vehicle before departure.
Finally, if working at a day camp, transportation is essential because many times you are bussing students onto the property. Allowing parents to know that their students will be in safe hands and the vehicle information is a great idea as well because it gives them assurance of where their children are going. Ball and Ball say it this way, “a written schedule of camper pickup and drop-off times and locations, as well as safety rules and precautions, should be presented to the parents, along with a telephone number for contacting the central office handling transportation” (289). Parents should be in the know of where their children are and how the transpiration is settled. Not only this, but this also allows the parents to inform the camp when children do not need to be picked up and vice versa if the camp must close for a time or day.