Page images
PDF
EPUB

I recognize my colleague from New York, Mr. Peyser. Do you have any questions?

Mr. PEYSER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I too want to welcome my colleague and fellow New Yorker to the committee in recognition of the efforts and time he has put in on this problem for many years. I would like to say, to a practical matter, that it is my hope that people like yourself who have been so actively involved and concerned about this problem, when we do report this bill out, as I hope we are going to do in the very near future, I plan on taking this to the Republican Policy Committee and Republican Caucus to get a definite supportive statement this time, which we did not have the last time. It would be my hope that perhaps, Mr. Rosenthal, you would be in a position together, obviously, with the Chairman, as being someone off the committee to make an effective argument, as I know you can make, in that Democratic Study Group, for instance. I think we are going to need this support before we go to the floor this time. I wonder if you could comment on that.

Mr. ROSENTHAL. I think that is a very astute and useful situation. I said I would follow the Chairman's lead and muster sufficient strength to enact that legislation.

Mr. PEYSER. Because one thing this time we do have, in spite of HEW's report which states the conclusions they drew from the Century Research Corp. study, they see no reason for legislation. I have the Century report here. which is a very comprehensive report. I believe that the report is the strongest argument for camp safety regulations.

These were camps voluntarily inspected, where the camps agreed to be inspected. In the original group, I think something like 70 or 80 would not let this inspection take place. So you would expect the verv best here, and yet in reading it—and this information will be available for you and other supporters—it strongly says that we have to really go after this bill. I agree with you completely. I think it is an absolute disgrace that we didn't pass it the last time. Certainly this time. I hope we are going to pass it and have the background to do it. Certainly we appreciate your support and your coming here this morning.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. DANIELS. I recognize the gentleman from Connecticut, Mr. Sarasin. Mr. Sarasin, do you have any questions?

Mr. SARASIN. I have no questions. But I do want to thank Mr. Rosenthal for the time he spent in this endorsement of this legislation. It is certainly appreciated.

Mr. DANIELS. I have one parting statement, and that is this: We have an ironic situation here. You will recall in 1970 we passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The personnel employed in camps are subject to provisions of that act. In other words, occupational health and safety anply to the personnel. But, unfortunately, there is no legislation applicable to the young boys and girls attending these camps.

So you see. it is a very peculiar situation, and all the more reason whv we should try to protect the lives of kids, who don't know any better.

Mr. ROSENTHAL. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. DANIELS. Our next witness is Mrs. Mary Oakerson, of the Girl Scouts of America.

In what capacity do you appear on behalf of the Girl Scouts ?

STATEMENT OF MARY OAKERSON, MEMBER, NATIONAL BOARD,

GIRL SCOUTS OF AMERICA, ACCOMPANIED BY MARIANNE PINNEY, NATIONAL STAFF MEMBER, TASK FORCE FOR YOUTH CAMP SAFETY; AND KATHLEEN B. ROSS, WASHINGTON REPRESENTATIVE

Mrs. OAKERSON. I am a member of the national board of the Girl Scouts. I have with me Marianne Pinney, a national staff member from New York, who heads our task force for youth camp sa fety; and our Washington representative, Mrs. Kathleen B. Ross.

Mr. DANIELS. All right, Mrs. Oakerson. I notice you have a statement here. You may read your statement or you may insert it for the record and highlight the points that you desire to make.

Mrs. OAKERSON. I intend to summarize the statement, Mr. Chairman,

Mr. DANIELS. If there is no objection, then your statement will be inserted in the record in full at this point. There being no objection, it will be so ordered.

[The statement of Mrs. Oakerson follows:

PREPARED STATEMENT OF MARY OAKERSON, MEMBER, NATIONAL BOARD, GIRL

SCOUTS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

It is our great pleasure to appear before the House Select Subcommittee on Labor to share the views of Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. on the Youth Camp Safety legislation under consideration. We are grateful for this opportunity to discuss the Girl Scout camping experience as it relates to this area of mutual concern. Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. is the largest organization for girls in the country and operates the largest and most varied camping program for girls. We have always supported standards and practices to insure the health and safety of our youth. We continue to do so.

Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., founded in 1912 and chartered by Congress with the purpose of "inspiring girls with the highest ideals of character, conduct, patriotism, and service that they may become happy and resourceful citizens”, has served more than 32 million girls throughout our history. Today, over three million girls ages six to seventeen are active in more than 160,000 troops assisted by 600,000 adult volunteers. Girls join Girl Scouting to take part in a dynamic program of frequently vigorous activities. Most of all, they join and stay with Scouting because of camping. Ninety-five percent of the Girl Scouts interviewed in a recent survey identified camping as their favorite Seout activity. Each of the basic types of Girl Scout camping-resident camping, troop camping, and day camping-has its own unique characteristics and variations, meets particular needs of girls, and provides a special service to the local community.

RESIDENT CAMPING

In Girl Scout resident camping, girls attend as individuals not with their troop. The resident camp serves girls from the entire council and often includes girls from neighboring councils. Sessions are 6-14 days in length, and camps operate with a staff employed for the entire season. Although sites are generally permanent, facilities vary from being almost resort-like to being quite rugged and rustic. In 1973, 175,000 girls—both members and non-membersattended the 450 resident camps operated by local councils. Girl Scout camping standards cover the operation of these camps and the standards proposed by H.R. 1486 would compliment our existing efforts in this area.

TROOP CAMPING

As I mentioned previously, each Girl Scout is a member of one of the 100,000 neighborhood Scout troops. Troop camping refers to the camping on an ongoing neighborhood group in which responsible adult volunteers who have worked with the children on a regular basis and who have taken training for their jobs as Girl Scout leaders, go camping. The size of the troop, the ratio of girls to adults, the criteria for site selection, and other health and safety factors are regulated by Girl Scout standards. Choice of site, activities, and length of stay are determined by the needs, age, and experience of the girls in the troop and the qualifications of the adult volunteer leadership.

Troop camping, because of the neighborhood base of the troop and the low cost, serves more girls than any other kind of public or private camping in the United States. Our data indicate that there were 3,000,000 troop camper days in 1973. All 160,000 Girl Scout troops are allowed and urged to go troop camping if the troops meet camping standards.

Some troop camping takes place on campsites owned by Girl Scout (nuncils and which are fully developed, that is, they have cabins, sanitary facilities, and fully equipped kitchens. Some takes place at private vacation homes. Other troops use public campgrounds or sometimes completely undeveloped land either privately or publicly owned. On undeveloped sites, girls pitch tents, build primitive sanitary facilities, and cook over open fires. Frequently, all the Girl Scout troops in a neighborhood or community may join together and go troop camping at the same time and at the same site. The fathers of the girls help set up hundreds of these large encampments.

Local councils enforce Girl Scout safety standards for troop camping. These standards include the regulation of personnel and training requirements, sani. tation, first aid, food handling, water supply, equipment, swimming, small craft practices, and emergency procedures as well as other matters which affect health and safety.

Contributing to the safety of troop camping is the fact that the troop is a neighborhood group. The girls know their leaders, the leaders know the girls, and the parents know and have confidence in these adult volunteers who are usually their friends and neighbors. If troop camping is to fall under the application of this legislation, Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. recommends inclusion of a Troop Camping section in H.R. 1486 to distinguish its special characteristics from those of resident and travel camping in order to insure meaningful regulations.

DAY CAMPING

It is in the field of day camping that the many years of experience of the Girl Scout organization is particularly unique. Each year, 500,000 children go day camping at 3,500 Girl Scout day camps, staffed by 50,000 adult volunteers. The camps are usually operated for only a brief period and are located close to the children's homes. Campers walk to the site or have only a short bus ride. Most day camps operate from 9 or 10 in the morning to 3 or 4 in the afternoon, although some operate during the late afternoon and early evening hours. These unusual hours make it possible for volunteers who work during the day to be counselors at day camp at night and for teen agers to participate in some of the day camp activities.

Although girls may make reservations to attend day camp through their troops, they usually attend as individuals not as part of the troop.

Most day camp sites are borrowed. That is, the council does not own them or does not lease them on a basis which is profitable to the leasor. Sites vary greatly. City streets, vacant lots, farm land, club houses of veterans organizations or public parks may all be used. Sessions are from 5 to 10 days in length, and many of the sites are temporary, set up just for the one brief session. Although the total day camp program of each council is usually administered by a member of the professional staff of the local council, the day camp is staffed and set up by volunteers, many of whom are the mothers and fathers of the children.

Since there little site maintenance expense and few paid staff, fees are very low. Both the low cost as well as the fact that the camps are operated by community volunteers and are visible to the citizens of the community contribute to the success which the Girl Scouts have had in reaching inner city dwellers, ethnic minorities and the poor with a summer day camp program.

Girls in isolated rural areas also benefit from day camp-often the only special program for girls in their community each summer. Many of the children who attend Girl Scout day camps will never have an opportunity for other kinds of camping experience.

The health and safety standards of the Girl Scout organization cover all aspects of site selection, personnel, and operation of day camps. The volunteers who serve as staff for the day camps are mature and are trained for their positions.

Stringent regulations regarding sites and facilities appropriate for the resident camping situation could threaten this very vital program for nearly a half million Girl Scouts each year.

Because of the low number of serious accidents, the value of the program and the inherent difficulty of administering a federal or state system of regulation of a large number of day camps conducted for brief periods of time on borrowed or leased sites, we recommend that H.R. 1486 exclude day camping front the application of the law. If this is not acceptable then we recommend including a section dealing exclusively with this type of camping, giving special consideration to the unique qualities of the day camping experience.

TRAVEL AND TRIP CAMPING Travel and trip camping is conducted on the same general basis as troop camping. The major difference is that in troop camping, the troop goes to a specific site and stays for the duration of the excursion. In travel or trip camping the troop moves from site to site. Some councils operate trips on a councilwide basis so that individual girls may make reservations to go on a trip with a group other than her usual neighborhood troop. In these casessuch as a canoe trip on the river or a backpack trip on the Appalachian Trail -the counselors may be either volunteers or paid staff. But in any case, Girl Scout safety standards apply.

STANDARDS AND SUPERVISION

Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. first developed health and safety standards for camping early in the 1920's. The standards manual has been revised many times. Copies of the current edition have been submitted to the Committee. National staff and volunteers regularly visit council camping programs of all kinds and submit reports to the boards of directors of the local councils and to the national Girl Scout organization.

We express our concern respecting the statement of a general duty in Section 4 of H.R. 1486 which, for example, requires supervision at all times of conditions free of recognized hazards. Such a declared statutory standard might appear to establish liability even in the absence of fault or negligence and thereby could unduly increase insurance costs and curtail the use of outdoor primitive surroundings for camping purposes.

Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. Offers to you, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare and the states the expertise of our staff and volunteers in the development of youth camp safety law and regulations.

FATALITIES AND INJURIES

We have information on the number of fatalities and serious accidents which occurred in Girl Scout camping in 1973. In that year one camper drowned at a Girl Scout camp. The program was well supervised and the local council which operated the camp was not found negligent in any way.

Girl Scout procedures require the reporting of "serious accidents" to the national organization; however, interpretation of the term serious varies. To verify camping accident statistics for 1973, we sent out a questionnaire early this year asking again that local councils report to us accidents which occurred in 1973 and defined serious as an accident in which the victim was admitted to a hospital or in which life, function or disfigurement was threatened. From all report sources, we have found 36 children who sustained injuries which local councils deemed serious enough to report to us. When we estimate the total number of camping days involved in all kinds of Girl Scout camping and calculate the injury rate, we find that there were approximately .005 serious injuries per 1,000 camper days. Of the thirty-six injuries reported, 16 resulted from falls, 7 from horseback riding, 3 from snakebite, 2 from winter sports, and 8 from other causes.

RECAPITULATION OF STATISTICS 1. 160,000 Girl Scout troops with 3,000,000 girls enrolled. 2. 175,000 girls attended 450 resident camps in 1973. 3. 3,500 Girl Scout day camps serving 500,000 girls with 50,000 adult

volunteers. 4. 3,000,000 troop camper days on thousands of sites (public and private

land, Girl Scout and other facilities. 5. .005 serious injuries per 1,000 camper days.

SUMMARY

The Girl Scout camping program is vast, diverse and serves a great many girls. We do not know the figures for other national voluntary agencies, but their camping figures added to ours would indeed add to tremendous numbers of youth served, camps in use, and, sites used.

We share your concern that all children may attend any type of camp with the certainty that the program and the site will be operated in such a manner that the campers' experience may be a safe one. Our years of experience in camping have demonstrated to us that safe, healthful camps may be operated in many ways on many kinds of campsites.

We wonder if federal and/or state organizations are in a position to monitor adequately the numbers of groups, sites and facilities used in day camping and troop camping. But we hope the Committee will not overlook the different possible designs as we have explained them to you today, for safe camping and will not apply standards which are appropriate in one camping situation to totally different situations.

We appreciate the Committee's efforts to develop a comprehensive Youth Camp Safety bill to provide for uniform state standards. May we suggest, however, that this bill state explicitly that regulations set up various categories of camping, i.e., resident, day, troop, travel, and that rules governing the health and safety of children and adults be written according to the exigencies of that particular type of camping with the purpose of providing camping experience in a variety of settings for the maximum number of children at a reasonable price.

Standards which are inappropriate could curtail or eliminate camping programs which have served millions of children safely for many years. If the camping programs of the major youth organizations were to be limited simply because we failed to point out the multiplicity of camping situations, the loss would affect every community in the nation.

Girl Scouting will continue to support sound health and safety practices. We would be happy to furnish the Committee with any additional information we have on health and safety practices or related matters. Thank you.

Mrs. OAKERSON. Thank you. We are very grateful to you for this opportunity to discuss the Girl Scouts camping experiences as they relate to this area of mutual concern. The Girl Scouts of the United States of America is the largest organization for girls in the country and operates the largest and most varied camping program for girls. We have always supported standards and practices that insure the health and safety of our youth. We continue to do so.

Today, over 3 million girls, ages 6 to 17, are active in 160,000 troops, assisted by 600,000 adult volunteers. Girls join Girl Scouting to take part in a program of vigorous activity. Most of all, they join and stay with scouting because of camping. Ninety-five percent of the Girl Scouts interviewed in a recent survey identified camping as their favorite Girl Scout activity. Each of the basic types of Girl Scout camping-resident camping, troop camping and day camping—has its own unique characteristics and variations and meets particular needs of girls and provides a special service to the local community.

In 1973, 175,000 girls, both members and nonmembers, attended 450 resident camps operated by local councils. Girl Scout camping

« PreviousContinue »