Page images
PDF
EPUB

Out of 200 camps that were inspected, 21 camps were found, and incidentally, these were camps that agreed to have inspectors come on their premises, and of course you recognize there were many camps that refused to let the inspectors go on their premises, and that doesn't necessarily mean that those camps have problems, but it means that they weren't willing to let the public get a look at what was going on there.

But in 21 out of 200 camps that were willing to allow inspection, they found hazardous conditions in the swimming areas.

So it seems to me this very figure is a startling figure and simply backs up what you have to say.

On transportation, 56 percent of all the drivers involved have to have drivers' licenses, only 56 percent. That means that 44 percent do not have to have State qualified licenses for driving within camps.

Now, I have been a camper myself and I very well remember a situation where someone within the camp had to

go

somewhere and one of the junior counselors, or someone, hopped in a truck and off you go, and it is a great ride and a lot of fun. The only problem is we have seen statistics showing a great deal of injuries that result from this type of thing.

Now, you made the statement that your husband had been collecting and amassing this information for a good many years.

Mrs. SOLOMON. Yes.

Mr. PEYSER. And you have already done this for us and I don't know, but I wonder, does he have a synopsis of anything of injuries and fatalities?

Mrs. SOLOMON. Yes.
Mr. PEYSER. A report that we could have for our record?

Mrs. SOLOMON. He may have sent it to Senator Ribbicoff, I am not sure. He has sent it to the National Safety Council in Chicago. I am sure he has copies in his files for the last 3 or 4 years, and in time, maybe in 3 or 4 weeks we might be able to get it to you.

Mr. PEYSER. If you can, we would like to have a copy of that. One other question. There has been some question raised as to whether State-run facilities or municipal-run facilities for camping should be exempted from these regulations. How do you feel on that?

Mrs. SOLOMON. I am giving my own words now. I feel that they should not be exempted. I don't think that any State, church, there should be no exemptions whatsoever is my feeling. Incidentally, I didn't give you a little dramatic thing I might mention that I have used occasionally. Maybe some of you might have some use for it.

Barbers must be licensed. Beauticians must be licensed. Plumbers must be licensed. As far as I know, anyone who owns a bit of property anywhere can start a camp and is not controlled in any possible way. I hope the time will come in another 50 years when we will at least have some recognition of standards for camp directors.

Now, that is not criticizing many of the fine educators who are camp directors and many of the fine organizations who hire the best qualified persons to run their nonprofit camp, but there have been in the past, and I am afraid in many of those States that do not have qualifications, that these conditions result.

Anyone, a hat manufacturer, somebody whose grandmother left him some property, anyone can start a camp with no controls.

Mr. PEYSER. Well, I thank you very much, and just to highlight the importance of this testimony, I have just received a copy of a newspaper called “Camp News,” which is published in Burnett, Tex., and this paper points out the results of this survey, and incidentally, Texas was one of the States that gave us the major, in fact, led the opposition in defeating this legislation, and here they say, "HEW results show we don't need any Federal regulations on camp safety."

Mrs. SOLOMON. It is a shame.

Mr. PEYSER. And I see the comment involved here is that they hope that we get off the issue now and let the States take care of it themselves. Believe me, we are not going to get off the issue and we are going to stay with it.

Mrs. Solomon. Don't stop fighting. Keep fighting.
Mr. DANIELS. Thank you very much, Mrs. Solomon.

Our next witness is Mrs. Joan Ball, Legislation Chairman, New York State Congress of Parents and Teachers.

Mrs. Ball, for the record, give us a little background.

STATEMENT OF MRS. JOAN BALL, LEGISLATION CHAIRMAN, NEW

YORK STATE CONGRESS OF PARENTS AND TEACHERS

their camps.

Mrs. BALL. Mr. Chairman, I am the State Legislation Chairman of the New York State Congress of Parents and Teachers, the PTA.

The New York State PTA welcomes this opportunity to submit testimony lending our support to the passage of the Youth Camp Safety Act and to express some of our concerns regarding camp safety.

First let me state that the PTA has no desire to force such rigid restrictions on camp operators that they would be unable to operate

The very nature of some of the activities engaged in at camp carries some element of risk of injury. However, it is our feeling that reasonable safety standards would eliminate many of the injuries and many of the more than 40 annual deaths that could be caused and probably are caused by the present lack of these standards.

H.R. 1486—The Youth Camp Safety Act, which would establish Federal standards for safe operation of youth camps; set up a Camp Advisory Council; provide for State agencies responsible for camp safety; enforce youth camp safety standards; set up civil penalties for violations; and restrain camps from operating in dangerous situations is supported by the PTA.

There does not seem to be any article so rigid or binding in the act that serious opposition could develop, but we know that it has. Indeed, the provisions make such good sense, that most parents sending their children to camp are probably under the assumption that they are already "law.”

The PTA is interested in seeing training programs established for camp personnel; standards set for counselors—especially those

[ocr errors]

that handle waterfront, boating, horseback riding, archery and riflery activities; proper fire and sanitary codes, and proper licensing of personnel to drive the vehicles used to transport campers.

New York State is one of the States that has set up camp laws and has set up a State Camp Safety Advisory Council

. Article 13– A, section 1390, of the Public Health Law provides for establishment of a seven-member council. This is the way the law reads: “Three members of the Council shall be representatives of youth camps operated in New York for profit, three members of the Council shall be representatives of youth camps operated in New York under philanthropic non-profit or charitable auspices, and one shall be the New York State Commissioner of Health."

We think that the consumer, the parents sending a child to camp, should have a voice on this kind of council.

A national PTA spokesman testified in favor of passage of the Youth Camp Safety Act, on May 15th in Washington, D.C.

The New York State PTA has sent out an Action Call to our 1,700 units, with their 350,000 members. We have asked that units warn parents to check on camps before signing contracts. We are terribly concerned that only 15 States have any camp safety legislation and 46 have no laws concerning personnel.

We stand ready to use our organization to disseminate information on the progress of this legislation. We ask that the Select Committee include PTA on the mailing list of those interested in the passage of H.R. 1486, so that we can keep our members informed.

We commend our own Congressman, Peter A. Peyser, for his efforts on behalf of Youth Camp Safety. We hope that many more Congressmen will agree that this legislation must be moved.

Camp safety has been studied long enough. We know that children are needlessly being injured and killed each summer. It is time to pass this Youth Camp Safety Act. Thank you.

Mr. DANIELS. Mrs. Ball, thank you for your statement and also for your contribution to this hearing. I want you to know that the Chairman appreciates the support of the PTA.

They have testified in the past in support of this legislation, and we welcome the support of the local organization also.

Now, New York recently enacted the Youth Camp Safety Law. Have you observed or heard of any problems with regard to that law?

Mrs. BALL. Opposition, you mean, to the law?

Mr. DANIELS. No, with regard to its working, because after all, I believe the law takes effect this year, does it not?

Mrs. Ball. We have not heard of any serious opposition to implementing this law, and one of the things we feel is, that it is fair and it is not trying to put camps out of business. I think the camp lobby originally thought such rigid restrictions would have them be unable to operate a camp, but that is not the kind of restrictions we have. We have reasonable restrictions that we think every camp in this country should have.

Of course, New York, even though we have passed our own legislation, is very interested in this Youth Camp Safety Act because many of our children in New York State are sent to camps outside New York State, and we are anxious to help, and we hope that the committee will use our over 9 million members in this country to disseminate information on this legislation.

We think we can be just as powerful as the camp lobby and we are very anxious to use our membership to have a Call to Action to finally pass this legislation.

Mr. DANIELS. Well, on behalf of the committee I express my appreciation and thanks to you and welcome your support.

Mrs. BALL. Thank you for allowing me to be here today.
Mr. DANIELS. Mr. Peyser, do you have any questions?

Mr. PEYSER. Yes. I want to also thank you very much for your testimony, and as a former president of a PTA myself, I am delighted to see the PTA so actively represented here.

Now, I just received a note from one of our staff people and I think I should acknowledge this; that the Camp News that I spoke of that is being circulated in Texas is not what we would call a representative organization that stands for all camping in Texas.

The Texas A.C.A., speaking for the professional camp people in Texas, are basically going to be coming more and more to our support, and so I don't want to condemn the whole area in Texas.

In looking at this, which, as I say, I have just gotten, I notice down here in a headline, it said, "Federal Bills Still a Threat." Now, here we are only trying to help children and protect them, and to think that we are being considered now as a threat even by what may be just a phony organization as far as I am concerned, that is too bad.

Let's get into a couple of questions, if I can, of the activity of the PTA and where they can be of a major help.

Has your office here in New York done anything to promote members of the PTA parents to letting members of Congress know how they feel, and what have you done in that area?

Mrs. Ball. Yes, we have. I have a copy of our Legislative Bulletin No. 4. I put a legislative bulletin out each month and I will give it to you. This was our Call to Action about this H.R. 1486, and we ask the units to use information when they were disseminating information on H.R. 1486, to use it in two ways.

One, to try to get support, and two, to contact their own Congressman, but also to use it as a vehicle to warn parents that there are very few States that have adequate laws, and that if they were sending their children outside of New York, to please make them aware; that it could very well be that reasonable waterfront safety laws and reasonable boating safety laws and reasonable horseback riding sa fety laws might very well not be established in those camps as guidelines, and we think that parents are starting to ask. One of our Long Island PTA's, the Baldwin Council, after reading about Mitch Kerman's boy in their local paper, took this up as their priority action item and are the ones that brought it to the attention of those of us who put out the State bulletin.

So, again, in our Bulletin No. 5 we again reminded the people we were about to have a hearing in Washington on May 15 and to send supporting data.

Now, we went to the National convention right after the hearing in May and the New York State delegation brought up on the floor that we do hape these laws and they are not so rigid that it makes camps, you know, go out of business except those that should be put out of business, and that we urged on the floor of our convention that the other States, you know, start working as vigorously as we have worked in New York for adequate camp safety laws, and we are willing to be used.

We think it is a very vital cause and we are perfectly willing to use all of our publications to try to push this legislation.

Mr. PEYSER. I want to emphasize that I think it is of the utmost value if letters, individually written letters to either Congressmen who represent the individuals in their area, or even to Congressman Daniels and myself so that we have, in effect, something in hand to show public interest and response as well, because very often people say, well, we haven't heard from anybody on that bill and nobody seems to be very concerned and there is no great pressure.

But I know there is concern in the country on the issue and it is just a question of motivating people to do something.

If I can just take a minute, Mr. Chairman, to cite to me what is a classic example of what public pressure can do on a piece of legislation or for a piece of legislation.

Just 3 years ago there was a program, and I think it is appropriate really, called “Save The Mustangs," on television, and as a result of that program a 10-year-old boy in Maryland wrote his Congressman a very nice, emotional letter in saying, "Can't we do something to save the wild mustangs,” and the Congressman sent a “Dear Colleague” letter around to other members of the House letting them see this letter. At the same time I think school teachers all over the country who had seen this program, and their schoolchildren, started writing letters and we were inundated. Every Member of the House was getting letters all in little kids' handwriting in the third and the fourth grades saying, please save the mustangs, and the net result of all this was within 6 months we had a mustang bill which passed both houses and was signed, and here was a bill that went from absolutely nowhere to a bill that was enacted to save the wild mustangs.

Mrs. Ball. I will be very happy, Congressman, to ask our teachers to have the children write letters, please save the children.

Mr. PEYSER. I am just saying that if we can pass legislation to save the wild mustangs, it just doesn't make sense that we can't pass legislation to save our children. Mr. DANIELS. Well, if you will yield, Peter. Mr. PEYSER. I will be glad to.

Mr. DANIELS. It is absolutely ironic that we pass laws to protect animals like dogs and mustangs and wildlife, but yet the Federal Government hasn't passed any laws with respect to protection to health and safety of our children. Now, this is a strange situation.

Mrs. Ball. Just as a little aside, I must mention that our national convention was in Texas and I can very well understand how that paper came out with that statement.

Mr. DANIELS. Well, the opposition to the bill 3 years ago was mostly from Texas. Some of the camp operators, members of the American Camping Association that approved camps, all of a sud

« PreviousContinue »