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Mr. Gates. Yes. The preseason camp inspection is the area where we did have some problems in the past with adequate personnel. One of the bills that was passed by the Legislature this year requires us to make a preseason inspection of all camps, and this is being done at the present time.
Mr. DANIELS. Now, in addition to the preseason inspection, is another inspection made during the course of the camping season?
Mr. Gates. Definitely. In general, we would make two additional inspections during the camp season. One inspection would be to determine how well these standards are being met, and in most cases some type of a followup inspection is also necessary.
Mr. ĎANIELS. Now, if as a result of your preseason inspection or an inspection made during the course of the camping season you discover that your rules and regulations and standards are not being complied with, what recourse, if any, does the health department or the State take in order to remedy the situation?
Mr. Gates. Depending upon the severity of the violation which is found, we can take a number of courses of action to remedy the situation.
In the case of a preseason inspection if we found, for instance, a serious health or life hazard, such as completely inadequate fire escapes, for instance, we would prohibit the camp from operating. We do have that power after a relatively short hearing procedure which would take in the order of a week, we could issue an injunction through the court to stop operation of the camp.
We also, of course, would notify the camp that we were not permitting them to operate and would not issue an operating permit, and if they did attempt to operate in violation they would be rapidly brought to court.
Mr. DANIELS. All camps in the State of New York today are required to obtain a permit, and I think you indicated that those camps which operate for profit must pay a fee of $100, but eleemosynary and religious groups are exempt from paying the fee.
Mr. GATES. That is correct. The only place where there is an exemption at the present time, and we are trying to square that away, is with respect to certain camps operated by school districts, by municipal school districts, are exempt. There also has been a bit of concern about federally operated camps, particularly Model Cities operations that have caused us some considerable concern. This is one item that appears to be a loophole in your present legislation.
Mr. DANIELS. What manner do they give you a problem?
Mr. GATES. In meeting of the standards. There has been some difficulty in the past with camps operated by federally funded programs, particularly in the manner of supervision; not having proper age of counselors, and things of this nature.
Mr. DANIELS. Does the New York law require a prescribed number of counselors as to the ratio of children attending the camps ?
Mr. GATES. Yes, it does.
Mr. Gates. The ratio for children over 6 years is one counselor for every eight children. For less than 6 years it is one for every six, and we require adult counselors of 18 years of age or more in that ratio.
Mr. DANIELS. Does the New York law with regard to counselors have any provision with regard to investigating their background as to the character of reputation-honesty and integrity ?
Mr. GATES. The present code as it is now being enforced, does not have that type of provision. We are looking into the possibility of covering this in the very near future, probably in the 1975 season.
Mr. DANIELS. Do you have any views on that matter?
Mr. GATES. I feel that the responsibility for adequate counselors must rest with the operator of the camp, and I don't think that we can enforce stringently a very careful investigation of each child who would be, or every counselor who would be employed at a camp.
At one time there was a proposal in our legislature that an actual police investigation be made on each counselor before he be hired, and I feel that this is a lot further than we are able to go. I think that the camp operator must be responsible for hiring proper people and people who can be trusted with the children.
Mr. DANIELS. Would it be an unreasonable requirement to require as an eligibility requirement for employment that the counselor be free of some unsavory criminal violation of the law?
Mr. GATES. No, I don't feel that this would necessarily be improper. The difficulty that we have had along these lines is in spelling out just what violations would constitute nonacceptability as a counselor.
There are in the State several camps that do work for rehabilitation of drug addicts, for instance, and many of their counselor staff are former addicts who have been cured and who do a very excellent job of working with the children and the people who are there, and we would not want to see legislation adopted that would eliminate this type of a program where it is properly run and where it is done in a good manner.
Mr. DANIELS. Inasmuch as you have had almost two camping seasons under the new law in New York, how many camps do you have in the State of New York which have been authorized and licensed to transact business for the camping years 1973 and 1974?
Mr. GATES. I can get you the exact numbers on that. I believe it was 762 overnight camps in 1973. We have had only one season under the new regulations because the actual camp season in New York State starts in the first week of July for the most part, and the 1974 licenses are not yet out so that I cannot tell you the exact number that are licensed or will be licensed for 1974 yet.
Mr. DANIELS. If you have the figures at your command, how many camps were not permitted to open as a result of your inspection?
Mr. GATES. I don't have those figures at hand, unfortunately. The only way I might be able to come up with something along these lines is how many we licensed the year before, and the attrition would not necessarily be due to our requirements.
In most instances we have been able to upgrade a camp, and our primary concern is the upgrading of the facility as opposed to shutting the facility down. We have taken legal action in the past year against five separate operations and in all cases these did come into compliance as a result of the legal actions.
Mr. DANIELS. Moreover, you would not permit a camp to open or function if, upon inspecting, you found an imminent danger exists whereby the health and safety and the life of a camper might be endangered, is that true?
Mr. GATES. Yes, that is correct.
Mr. DANIELS. If you will implement your testimony here by furnishing us with this statement, I would like to know how many camps that you have found that came within this category of endangering the life and health and safety of the children and how many have complied therewith.
Now, of course I realize that your experience with this law is new and you may not have too many statistics.
Now, did you have occasion that after having issued a license, to turn around and suspend the operation of the camp because of noncompliance with your law?
Mr. GATES. We have not had occasion to do that within the last year. In all cases the violations which were present were either corrected during the season or they were of a type that would not require the children to be sent home from the camp during the middle of the season. The only case where we did suspend a camp operation, and this was done more or less cooperatively with the Model Cities people, was a federally operated camp that was in very
bad condition that was terminated earlier. This was 2 years ago, where we had to request that the camp be vacated.
Mr. DANIELS. Under your New York law where a child is injured or suffers a disabling illness which would require medical attention for a period of 24 hours or more, do such incidents have to be reported to the State ?
Mr. Gates. Not at the present time. They do not have to be reported to the State.
Mr. DANIELS. Do you have any statistics on fatalities or accidents or illnesses suffered at camp?
Mr. Gates. The four fatalities I mentioned in the speech were reported. If there is a boating or swimming accident, if there is a drowning, that must by law be reported to us, but aside from this, we do not have a mandatory requirement at the present time that would report any accident over 24 hours. We are in the process of implementing a change in the Code which would require any accident over 48 hours be reported, but this would not go into effect until the 1975 season.
Mr. DANIELS. Do you think it would be a fair and reasonable provision of the law to require that any illness or sickness that required medical care over a period of 24 hours, that such an incident should be reported?
Mr. GATES. Yes, I would see no reason why this would be unreasonable.
One of the reasons we went to a 48-hour item is that in the case of falls and in the case of certain other injuries, it is more or less standard practice to keep the person under observation for a day, and this may not be a problem, the person may go right back to activity and lose nothing but a day's camp time, and we didn't feel that that type of operation needed to be reported necessarily.
Mr. DANIELS. Well, now, if there is no mandatory provision requiring the reporting of fatalities, accidents or illnesses, then how can you effectively implement the law to see that it is properly being carried out and administered?
Mr. GATES. Well, the fatalities that are reported, of course we have vital statistics in the Department and fatalities are reported, and I get copies of those eventually.
This takes a lag period. We also have a clipping service that does clip any accident occurring in camp and does submit them to us, so we have reporting from those sources.
Mr. DANIELS. Can you give the committee some information as a result of your experience during the past year?
Mr. Gates. Yes. In other words, you want details on the incidents is what you are asking for?
Mr. DANIELS. Not so much the details, we want the statistics. We don't want you to go into every accident, but
Mr. GATES. Basically, we had four fatalities in children's camps. Two of these were with regard to boating or swimming. One was an out-of-camp trip situation. Excuse me, two were swimming and one was a boating or fishing incident. The other one was an out-ofcamp trip situation where a child fell off a cliff, basically.
We also had a shooting on a rifle range due to improper supervision and we had a situation where food poisoning occurred on a bus trip because of improper food handling by the camp, which resulted in approximately 30 children coming down with food poisoning, 6 of which had to be hospitalized.
Mr. DANIELS. And the shooting incident, did that result in a fatality?
Mr. GATES. No, it did not. That was a minor type injury, fortunnately. There was no permanent damage done.
Mr. DANIELS. Was there any provision in the law governing or regulating the use of firearms?
Mr. GATES. Yes, there is, and in the incident that did occur, the person who was in charge of the range was not present at the time of firing, which is a violation.
Mr. DANIELS. Now, I refer you to page 6 of your statement. In the third line you say as follows: "It is expected that either Federal or State control of the traveling operation will be a reality in the near future.” Inasmuch as there are camps that travel from State to State, in your opinion should such camps be regulated at the local level, or should the Federal Government assume control?
Mr. GATES. I think it has to be at the Federal level for the camp that goes interstate because it is practically impossible to do at the local level effectively. We could possibly control counselor ratio starting out on a bus starting from New York City, for instance, or a trip starting from New York State, but we would have very little chance of trying to determine if the places the bus stopped or chose to stop along the way were adequate, were satisfactory, or if the counselor ratio was maintained as the trip continued across the country, as is the case in many instances, and I feel that this is something that probably would have to be done at a Federal level. We are in the process of implementing or in the process of preparing
to implement travel camp legislation for travel camps within the State.
Legislation was passed at the last session by the Legislature and has not been signed into law, but once it is signed into law, we will be implementing a standards writing procedure and implementation standards on the traveling camp within the State.
Mr. DANIELS. Now, you did make some reference to the Federal study. Have you any idea how that study was conducted?
Mr. Gates. Yes. I understood that the study was being done on a contract basis. We were contacted initially and requested to provide to both the person contracting and the HEW people a list of the camps within our State and the mailing addresses of these camps, which we did provide.
Mr. DANIELS. It was my understanding that the so-called study or investigation was conducted through correspondence; merely writing to a camp operator and asking him how many fatalities and accidents he had and he gave a report, and this was done with respect to 200 day camps, 75 of which did not see fit to respond.
Now, do you think that is a proper and appropriate manner in which to conduct a study costing $300,000?
Mr. Gates. No, I would agree with you that is not a proper manner. I am not, as I say, totally familiar with how the study was conducted, but there were some inspections, physical inspections done by study personnel in New York State which were reported to me.
I do not know whether or not all the camps were visited, but I know that there were some camp visits made because camp operators are a little bit touchy about people coming on their property without proper credentials.
of course we have, by legislation, the right to go on property and the right to inspect, and it was reported to me in several instances that people reporting to the Federal inspectors came on the property and did request that questionnaires be filled out or did actually fill out questionnaires on the property.
I am not sure, as I say, whether this was done in all cases or whether it was just trial for a few camps in New York.
Mr. DANIELS. Have you examined the legislation that we have under consideration, H.R. 1486, cosponsored by Congressman Peyser and myself?
Mr. GATES. Yes, I have.
Mr. DANIELS. Will you state for the record whether or not you approve of this law? Do you have any recommendations with regard to implementing it to make it better legislation, or any suggestions whatsoever?
Do you think any provisions of this bill are too strict that may not be possible to conform and comply with?
Or on the other hand would you recommend the strengthening of it? Any suggestions you have would be welcome.
Mr. GATES. Well, I have a few comments on the legislation that I might like to make.
I feel that the bill itself is excellent and I feel it is a necessary part of a total program and I feel that children should be protected throughout the country.