John Graden: Summer time is coming and I know Schools do either Martial Arts Summer Camps which for instance is a four or six week period where the Kids come to the Martial Arts School and they do stuff throughout the day and it’s usually a combination of their current Students and hopefully a lot of Students that are, a lot of people that are attending that don’t belong to the Schools current roster, in hopes that they’ll enroll after the experience.

But, clearly Parents have to work over the Summer and putting their Kids in a Martial Arts Summer Camp or a Summer School, is very attractive to the School and attractive to the Parents. However, as always there are liabilities involved.  Jennifer talk to us about what these Schools need to really understand about the potential for liability at their Summer Camp. What kind of insurance do they need for a Summer Camp?

Jennifer Urmston: Thank you, John. First at all it’s very, very, important if you’re holding a Summer Camp, to reach out to your Agent and make sure that your current insurance policy will cover the Summer Camp, because in a Summer Camp you typically have care, custody, and control of those Students, for a longer period of time, than you do during the School Year, when they’re just in for their Class and then they go back home.

So, it is different coverage on a lot of Policies that you need to tell your Agent about and they need to know how many Students are going to come and how many hours of the day they are going to stay there and they need to know if you are transporting those Students anywhere else and going off property.  That leads me into when you are setting up your Summer Camp, if you are taking them off property and going outside or going to a Park or doing any kind of activity that’s away from your premises, not only do you need to tell your Insurance Company but that needs to be part of the liability waiver that your Parent’s sign for those Kids.

So, if you are doing anything off site, make sure it if very clear that they’re going to be outdoors, or they’re going to be at a Park, or they’re going to be at a Swimming Pool, if you’re taking them somewhere and that that language is included in the waiver, so the Parents are signing off that they know their Child’s going to be off premises and doing other things.

The other thing that. that really comes to mind and that you should always be aware of for any time of Day Camp or Summer Camp is that you’re going to be having participants who are not your normal Students, who are not as familiar with your Marital Arts teaching itself, so again making sure that these new participants are very comfortable with the activities, before they do any more advanced activities.

John Graden: I’m imaging that you’re suggesting a different waiver of liability for the Camp than the one they’ve signed for the School.

Jennifer Urmston: Yes, exactly John, a Summer Camp waiver that is really designed for those Kids that haven’t been in your facility before and also designed to tell the Parents what these Kids are going to be doing so that they’re signing off on it that they know that their Kids are going to be doing these things.  Additionally, you know, when you do have Kids there for Summer Camp, be aware of always having two Adults in your Group of Kids and this is important for protecting yourself from a sexual abuse or molestation claim.

Make sure there are always two Adults with the Kids, if Kids are changing clothes, make sure Kids of the same age are in the Dressing Room, changing clothes, versus, Kids that are significantly older, make sure that again, that you are aware of the need to protect the Children and Supervise the Children at all times, make sure any extra hired, you know help that you’re bringing in, any extra Instructors that are going to be helping you out in the Summer that you’ve done background checks on those folks, again to protect yourself from any kind of claim that the Child was abused in any way.

John Graden: Let’s talk about background checks for just a moment.  There is. First up it’s not that expensive and it’s easy to do in today’s technological world with the Web, right?

Jennifer Urmston: Right, absolutely, right now our Vendor Secure Search, it’s available on our website, it has a flat fee of I believe of $18 per person to do a background check and those checks will cover all fifty States, everywhere where that person has lived.

And it’s very easy and you’re documenting for your file, that you did check every Volunteer and every person over eighteen years old, that are working with your Kids, that they haven’t had any priors for abusing Children and you keep, you know, copy that in your file, that you did everything you could ahead of time to protect your Students.

John Graden: Well let’s talk to a little bit about some of the incidents that do happen.  If you do a google search for Summer Camp Law Suits you get all sorts of crazy stories from Kids falling off horses, from rocks hitting them the head, one Kid, bless his soul, drowned in the Lake, another Girl got Lyme disease, what is the range of liabilities in terms of specific instances or stories that you can recall.

Jennifer Urmston: Well again, that’s one of the reasons that I brought up the Issue, of making sure if you’re taking Children off-site that you’re very clear about that and that Parents are signing off on that and that Children themselves are prepared for that, they know what’s coming.

Swimming Pools are, any bodies of water are dangerous, my experience is we have far more claims related to bodies of water than anything else, again I haven’t had a claim from someone getting hurt from a Horse but you certainly can imagine that when you have Children who aren’t familiar with Horses that you could have an injury.

The Lyme Disease, brings up an issue that’s important to know, which is that most Insurance Policies do excluding communicable disease, and so again that’s something to be aware of in your waiver, that you’re telling the Parents that the Kids are going to be outside.

That it’s not known to the Parents that the Children are going to be outside in the Woods or in a Canoe, or riding a Horse, or they could come in contact with Tics or Fleas, or other Bugs or Snakes, that are natural to the Outdoors.

John Graden: How about a Snake Bite?

Jennifer Urmston: I, again if you’ve taken care to let them know that they’re going to be outside, it’s kind of like when you go for a hike and someone’s foot gets stuck in a hole, you know, if they know they’re going outside for a hike in the woods, that’s a normal part of going outside for a hike in the woods, your liability is that you are prepared to administer first aid, you are prepared to get that Child safely the care that they need.

So again be, make sure your Instructors have been trained in First Aid, have been trained in CPR, that you have an emergency plan if you’re taking Kids off site, how are you going to get them to the Emergency Room, if they fall and break something or if they get bitten by a Snake, make sure whatever Pool, if you’re going to use a Pool, bring them, or a body of Water, that there are Lifeguards there, that are trained to administer CPR, you know it be, the thing is your expertise as a Martial Arts School Owner, is in teaching your Kids Martial Arts Skills and Life Skills, that you do every day in your facility.  If you are not an expert at handling a Swimming Pool, make sure you are taking them where they do have good expert Lifeguards.

John Graden: You know I look back at the Summer Camps, we did about three of them and they were really successful, they would generate, thirty, forty, fifty thousand dollars over the course of actually, just a weekend, it was really powerful, but it was, I think back at all the potential liabilities.

We actually had an Ambulance called one time, because this Kid got so anxious about a demonstration that he was going to do that night on the stage, he started throwing up and getting sick.  We had to call an Ambulance because he was just too nervous.  But then I had, you know, one of the Teenagers say, ‘Yeah, just swam out to that rock and back, in the middle of the lake.’  I thought I had no idea that Kid was swimming out there, Holy Cow, Wow!

Jennifer Urmston: Out that far, right.  The wonderful thing about the Summer Camps, like you said they can generate great revenue for your facility, they expose new people to your facility, you get more Students in the fall, it’s great, but what I would always caution is make sure you have spoken to your Insurance Carrier, make sure you’ve written down all the activities that they are going to do and disclose that to the insurance carrier and the Parents and there, there should be an additional premium on your Insurance for doing this.

<p>&nbsp;</p>If you’re going to make thirty or forty thousand dollars over the course of a Summer Camp and there is going to be an additional premium or two or three hundred dollars, it’s worth it to make sure you have coverage, for all these things that you want to do with these Kids that are abnormal to your normal Business, with Kids that aren’t familiar with your normal Business.

Don’t take that liability on yourself, communicate it to your insurance carrier and make sure they are covering you for those Summer Camps because they are an outstanding way to grow your Business.  I’m the Mum of a ten year old Boy, I love when he does new things in the Summer and does something new that he’s going to enjoy and want to continue doing in the Fall.

So, it’s great for the Kids, it’s great for the Parents, it’s great for the Business, just do your homework ahead of time to know what you’re doing and communicate it to the Parents and the Insurance Company.

John Graden: Thank you again as always Jenifer for that insight, because that is really important knowledge.  Alright Guys you heard it from the Pro.  Make sure you get your waivers filled out, make a good list of all the activities that you’re going to be doing and get those background checks done.

John Graden
John Graden

John Graden is widely credited with leading the martial arts school business into the modern age. He is the founder of the first successful professional association and trade journal. MA Success editor John Corcoran first called him a “visionary” in 1995. Martial Arts World magazine dubbed him, The Teacher of Teachers. Mr. Graden’s leadership was recognized in many mainstream media outlets including a cover story on the Wall Street Journal, documentaries on A&E Network, and as a guest on the Dr. Oz Show and many others.