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What parents of teen summer camp counselors should know

On Behalf of | May 31, 2024 | Workers' Compensation |

One of the best summer jobs teens can get is being a camp counselor. Whether it’s at a local day camp or a resident camp out in the woods of Minnesota, it can be a chance to make money while enjoying the outdoors and getting in lots of physical activity. Teens in these jobs also run the risk of getting injured in ways that their friends working in a grocery store or movie theater don’t. 

It’s important to note, as we discussed in a previous post, that most teens who are injured while working during the summer (or any time of the year) are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits if they become injured or ill as a result of their job. Minnesota law states that “any individual who performs services for another, for hire, including minors, part-time workers and workers who are not citizens.” Most private employers are required to have workers’ comp insurance. 

Common causes of injuries

Businesses and organizations that run summer camps have an obligation to help keep their campers and their staff safe. For staff, this means giving them training and making sure they have the right footwear, apparel and any necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) like personal flotation devices. 

A study by the American Camp Association identified the factors most likely to injure camp staffers. These include:

  • Improperly maintained equipment
  • Slipping and tripping hazards (some of which are just part of the landscape)
  • Fatigue – which generally gets worse as the summer goes on
  • Failure to wear PPE or the appropriate footwear
  • Horseplay

That last one is certainly part of camp life. In a traditional work setting, horseplay can be one of the few causes of injury where an employee may be denied workers’ comp benefits (along with being under the influence).

At camp, however, staffers are encouraged to have fun with the campers, and it’s easy for “horseplay” to go from harmless to injurious in a second. Minnesota courts have ruled in some cases that these injuries are eligible for workers’ comp benefits.

No parent wants their teen to be injured while working at a summer camp (or anywhere else). That’s why it’s crucial to make sure they feel like they’ve gotten the appropriate safety training and that they keep themselves and their young campers safe. However, if they do suffer an injury or become ill, it’s important for them to know and be able to assert their rights. If necessary, having legal guidance can help.

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