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Happy Campers: Standards Help Keep Summer Camp Safe and Fun

Each summer, thousands of kids all over the country are enrolled in summer camps of all lengths and varieties, giving them the opportunity to explore nature, learn a new sport or craft, and develop a sense of themselves as individuals separate from their parents. And through it all, voluntary consensus standards play an essential role in supporting safety and functionality at summer camps of all sorts.

At many overnight summer camps, children get closer to nature by spending their nights in cabins, lean-tos, or tents located in and around woods, fields, and other natural habitats. An International Standard from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), ISO 5912:2011, Camping tents¸ provides requirements associated with the safety and performance of camping tents, including the sort used by many summer camps. The standard was developed by ISO Technical Committee (TC) 83, Sports and other recreational facilities and equipment, Subcommittee (SC) 2, Camping tents. ASTM International, an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) member and audited designator, currently serves as the ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) administrator to ISO TC 83. And when it comes to cabins and other wood structures, ANSI member and accredited standards developer the American Wood Council (AWC) has developed an American National Standard (ANS) providing important guidance. ANSI/AWC NDS-2012, National Design Specification (R) for Wood Construction, sets down requirements and guidelines connected to the fire design and structural design of wood products and construction.

Many camp-bound children depend on sleeping bags for the padding and warmth they provide. A standard from ASTM, ASTM F1853-11, Standard Test Method for Measuring Sleeping Bag Packing Volume, sets down a test method for the quantitative volume of a sleeping bag, helping to make sure that campers stay warm.

Outdoor activities are a major draw for both day-camps and overnight camps in rural locales. An ANS from the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC), an ANSI member and accredited standards developer, helps to support boating activities - including those seen at many summer camps - through a recent standard providing guidance in connection with the use of kayaks and canoes. ANSI/ABYC H-29-2012, Canoes and Kayaks, sets down guidelines related to the design, construction, labeling, and related capacities for these popular types of watercraft, giving boat manufacturers and camp proprietors important information that can help to ensure the safety of canoers and kayakers.

However, not all summer camps specialize in outdoor adventure and strenuous physical exercise. Indeed, some focus instead on academics, scientific exploration, or the arts. A standard from ANSI-accredited standards developer the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) provide important guidance on relocatable classrooms, such as those used by music camps and schools. ANSI/ASA S12.60-2009, Acoustical Performance Criteria, Design Requirements, and Guidelines for Schools, Part 2: Relocatable Classroom Factors, sets down acoustical performance criteria for these types of spaces, helping to support their effective operation by music camps and other users. ASA has made this standard available for free download here, with the financial support of Owens Corning, Armstrong Ceiling Systems, and Trane.

At its best, summer camp can be a place where children make friends and memories that will last a lifetime. And every summer, voluntary consensus standards are there to support the work and oversight that keeps camps fun and safe.


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


[email protected]

Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


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