How to start a Theme Camp #7 – Health & Safety

Sep 11, 2023 | Kiwiburn, Theme Camps

Welcome back!

Captain here, continuing the ‘How to start a Theme Camp’ blog series.

This time I’m discussing health and safety for your Theme Camp.

I asked 25 fellow Theme Camp leads what they consider for the health and safety of their camps. So you can be sure that you’re getting great info from all 26 of us (I ran a camp at KB23 too!).

I’ve grouped the answers into most common replies and ordered them from most common to least common.

Finally, before we begin, If you missed the last blogs in the series, catch up on them here:
#1 A general overview
#2 The application process
#3 Choosing a theme
#4 Organising Camp Members

#5 Choosing Events
#6 Structures and set up

How to ensure your Theme Camp stays safe

Question 1 – What tips/considerations do you think new camps should be aware of safety wise?
The answers were:
– Make sure you store stuff well during the event
– Ensure your structure is secure and not likely to fall on anyone!
– Wind is dangerous!
– Cover any stakes with tennis balls or something soft. Failing that, decorate and light them so they can be easily seen
– Light up any guy ropes to keep people safe
– Don’t run vehicles or generators near tents, fumes can be deadly!
– Keep fires under control, even cookers can set fire to tents and equipment
– Have a H&S lead (and team) that can deal with all of H&S and who can keep the entire camp up to date on everything.
– Plan your camp to be safe for a drunk person is the best advice I can give.
– Keep an eye on any unsafe or inappropriate behaviour, control it before it becomes an issue. Let them know their behaviour isn’t acceptable, find their friends and move them on.
– When driving to the event with heavy loads, and back up, make sure people have places to stay on the way down and back up.
– Make everything child proof, inebriated people are likely to trip, fall or hurt themselves on anything!
– Use the TC H&S template, use some common sense, make sure all of your camp know what’s in the H&S plan (we had a H&S meeting beforehand)
– Some burners will melt through plastic tables! And always have plasters handy.
– Heat stroke, hypothermia, drug testing, COVID and at-risk individuals participating in workshops etc. Accessibility for workshops and TC spaces. Non-alcoholic options if offering alcohol.
– Sound can hurt the ears! Always wear earplugs.
– Always have your own camp rangers monitoring events.
– Pay attention to where you bury cables so you don’t stab them later on.
– Have good lighting in your communal areas.
– Be careful with electricity in the rain!

Question 2 – Have you had any safety incidents? If so, how did you fix the issue so it doesn’t happen again.
The answers were (in no particular order):
– Last year, rain pooled on our roof. Had to cut it to let the rain hail down on our carpet etc otherwise the roof would have caved in.
– A pole fell hard on someone’s head. Had a medical kit and someone to clean and dress wound. Advised to go to Dr. Next time we will all get a briefing before taking down the big tent.
– Our first time putting our new structure up, we nearly threw a crew member off the roof of the truck when the wind picked up unexpectedly. We immediately moved to our pre planned emergency procedures and called in extra support to make the situation safe. The incident was noted and safety equipment including fall arrest harnesses, extra ropes and more ground oversight with a greater importance placed on securing fly ropes with safety personnel before allowing access to the roof. This story is now included in every safety briefing as a stark reminder of how quickly things can go wrong.
– Yes! All I will say is make sure you utilise any theme camps offering services that can help you, e.g. Know your stuff.
– Make sure there’s fire extinguishers, had a camp fire and if we didn’t have things to staunch it could of gotten way out of hand.

There we have it, there’s a lot of great things to consider for the health and safety of your camp & participants.

Remember, as part of registering your camp, you’ll have to create and submit a H&S plan, so pay careful attention to the info above when you’re creating your plan.

We want you (and everyone at Kiwiburn) to be safe, so take your time with planning H&S.

What’s next in the blog series?

Thanks again to the wonderful Theme Camp leads who filled in the survey, you really helped make this blog series come to life!

In the next (and final) blog I’ll be discussing general considerations for starting your Theme Camp.

Until then, have a wonderful day.


Image Credit: Pixabay

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