Youth Camp Guidance, Clarifications, and FAQs


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What activities are considered Youth Camp Specialized Activities that qualify my program for a license?

In rule, §265.11 (26), there are five defined types of youth camp specialized activities, in an outdoor setting, that require an adult trained specialist to oversee at all times:

  • Waterfront Activities

           □ Swimming   □ Kayaking   □ Canoeing    □ Boating    □ Snorkeling    □ Scuba Diving

  •  Archery

           □ Archery range   □ Archery Tag    □ Axe / knife / spear target throwing      

  •  Horseback Riding Program  
  • Challenge Courses

           □ Zip Lines    □ High/Low Ropes    □ Wall Climbing Rock Climbing Wall

  •  Riflery

           □ BB Guns   □ Paintball   □ Rifle range

Other activities may be considered on a case by case basis. To determine whether an “other” activity, not explicitly on our list, would be a qualifying activity, we will consider the following: Does the activity pose an elevated risk of injury, necessitate additional liability insurance, and require constant trained adult supervision and safety equipment?

I operate a licensed Youth Camp that hosts various youth groups and church groups who utilize my facility. What are the requirements for licensed youth camps who host groups in regards to background checks, and approved sexual abuse and child molestation awareness trainings? Who is responsible to make sure theses checks and trainings have been completed?

The rules only speak to requirements of the license holder.  A “rental type facility”, that holds a Youth Camp license and hosts various groups, shall comply with all Youth Camp rules and is responsible, as the licensee, to address any and all violations noted upon inspection.

If a license holder is a “rental facility” it must develop it’s own policies and procedures to ensure all annual criminal background/ sex offender checks and approved youth protection trainings are completed for all those individuals operating under their Youth Camp license.

Adult participants onsite at the same time as youth, do they all have to be background checked? If they are a paying “guest” or “camper” are they considered/treated differently than if they are staff or somehow chaperoning or supervising campers?

Current rule language (below) clarifies criminal background check requirements for all adults, if they have unsupervised contact with campersother than their own children. Anyone, including: counselors, group leaders, junior counselors having unsupervised contact with campers, other than their own children must complete an approved youth protection training.

Rule §265.12(f) clarifies the requirement of an annual criminal background check and sex offender registration check for all adults who have unsupervised contact with campers, other than their own children.

Rule §265.12(i)(1) removes an outdated effective date and clarifies that anyone who will have unsupervised contact with campers, other than their own children must complete an approved sexual abuse and child molestation awareness training and examination program.

Per 265.12(i)(2) "contact with campers" does not include visitors such as a guest speaker, an entertainer, or a parent who visits for a limited purpose or a limited time if the visitor has no direct and unsupervised contact with campers.

Definition of “abuse” – can we get a clear and comprehensive definition of this to help guide what is required to be reported, and how we train on reporting and abuse prevention?

Abuse definition, by rule, found here at link to Family Code 261 Investigation of Report of Child Abuse or Neglect.

“Reporting and Abuse Prevention” topic is covered for your staff when they complete an approved youth protection training, it is a required element of those trainings.

More guidance and documents here:

For supervised activities such as youth camp specialized activities – what constitutes an “adult” if “adult supervision” is required? Over age 18? What about 16-year-old lifeguards, etc.?

An adult by Texas law is someone 18 years of age or older. In regards to minors as lifeguards they may serve as lifeguarding staff only. You must have at a minimum one adult lifeguard or the adult water font director present and supervising any waterfront activity.

Where on the website does the link to DSHS have to be? Can it be on a page of useful links, or does it have to be prominent on the main home page?

HB 4372 states the Youth Camp weblink must be “clearly marked” only, and gives no guidance to where on the camp’s website this link shall be posted.

So any page on your website would be acceptable, as long as the link is clearly marked.

Why is a ring buoy required? American Red Cross no longer trains on it, why is it still in the rules?

Ring buoy is required since a Youth Camp pool is, by rule, a public pool and must comply with all pool rules: Chapter 265, Subchapter L - Standards for Public Pools and Spas 

Can my staff nurse or paramedic fulfill the requirement of an on-call physician?

No, per rule §265.15. Medical and Nursing Care (a) Record of an on-call physician required. Documentation shall be kept on file of a physician licensed to practice in Texas who is available to be on call at all times to advise health service personnel on all first aid and nursing services provided by the camp.

Options to naming a single physician as your point of contact would be to obtain an agreement with a medical facility (hospital, clinic, physician’s group, free-standing Emergency Room, etc.) that can ensure a physician will be available to take call anytime your camp is operating.

Who can serve as my program’s Camp Health Officer?

In regards to qualifications for a camp health officer at a licensed Youth Camp in Texas there are two categories by rule 265.15 (c) Medical staffing requirements.

  1. For a camp with a greater than 20-minute EMS response time. A physician, registered nurse, licensed vocational nurse, or a person with an American Red Cross Emergency Response certificate, or its equivalent (EMT), shall be in the camp and on call at all times, and will be considered the Camp Health Officer.

  2.  For a camp within a 20-minute EMS response time, the next paragraph (below) of the rule states a person certified in American Red Cross Community First Aid and Safety could be the Camp Health Officer.

     For camps having documented evidence, such as a letter from the local emergency medical services (EMS), that the camp is located within a 20-minute community EMS response time, a person certified in American Red Cross Community First Aid and Safety, or its equivalent, shall be in the camp and on call at all times, and will be considered the Camp Health OfficerYour camp health officer should hold CPR, AED, and basic First-Aid certifications to be considered an “equivalent” to American Red Cross Community First Aid and Safety.

  Where can I find more information on archery or shooting ranges for Youth Camps?

Both archery and shooting ranges have similar requirements for adult trained staff under §265.12 Directors, Supervisors and Staff, which requires an adult trained specialist who has documented training or at least two years documented experience in conducting the activity.

§265.17. Program Safety and Equipment

 (a) Firearm or pellet gun programs at youth camps. A firearm or pellet gun

program shall be conducted on a range that meets or exceeds the

specifications outlined by the National Rifle Association or its equivalent.

Safety procedures shall be enforced whenever the range is in use. The range

shall be conspicuously marked and configured to prevent entry of campers

onto the range while it is in use. 

(b) Archery program at youth camps. An archery program shall be

conducted on a range that meets or exceeds the specifications outlined by

the National Field Archery Association or its equivalent. The archery range

shall be conspicuously marked and configured to prevent entry of campers

onto the range while it is in use. (PDF)

(c) Program equipment condition and use. Equipment used in all programs

shall be kept in good condition and present no hazard as a result of poor

condition to the user at any time.

(d) Storage of firearms, pellet guns, and archery equipment when not in

use. Firearms, pellet guns, ammunition, and archery equipment shall be kept

in a secured area when not in use.

What are the requirements for a medical log, can I use a three-ring binder?

Yes, a three-ring binder, spiral notebook, composition book may be used as long as the pages are pre-printed and numbered and it records the required information listed below in rule.

Current rule language (below) has eliminated the term “bound medical log required” for clarity and replaced with term “medical log required”.

§265.12 (h) Medical log requiredA bound medical log, or other unalterable record keeping system, listing date, name of the patient, ailment, name of the Camp Health Officer, and the treatment prescribed shall be kept in the first aid area for the duration of the camp year for which the license is issued.