MANAGING A CRISIS IN CAMP
EMERGENCY COMMUNICATION INSTRUCTIONS
1. In the case of any emergency (accident or incident), whether on or off site, the situation is
assessed, accurate facts are obtained, and the Camp Director (or other Administrative
staff member) is informed.
2. The Camp Director will assess the information / situation and take appropriate action, of
which may be to contact the council liaison. (If necessary, the Camp Crisis Management
Team may be alerted or called into action.)
3. If the Camp Director is not available, the Administrative Staff member acting in her place
should contact the Camp Administrator for directions. If the Camp Administrator is not
available, refer to the council liaison.
4. If necessary, the Camp Director (or her representative) can contact emergency services
**See “How to Handle and Emergency” – phone numbers.
5. Once called into action, the crisis team members carry out their assigned duties. Other
staff members continue in their regular jobs or follow directions form the staff member in
6. The Council Crisis Management Team makes the decision to contact parents in an
emergency. A Council staff telephone tree is used if calls to parents must be made.
CAMP CRISIS TEAM
PURPOSE: The purpose of a camp crisis team is to efficiently and effectively assist the
Camp Director and Council in dealing with a crisis situation in camp.
MEMBERS: All members of the camp crisis team should be individuals with high stamina,
low panic levels, even-tempered attitudes and who can take initiative when needed.
Members of the crisis team are not always on the camp administrative staff. Select
individuals from the entire staff who you feel would do the best job in the designated roles.
1. Security: (2 people) stationed at the camp gate, these people monitor access into the camp.
They need to be equipped with walkie-talkies or cellular phones. They must be even-
tempered with an “in-control” attitude and appearance.
2. Telephone: (1 person) answers calls into camp and responds appropriately (see attached
suggested statement). Needs to have good communication skills, reassuring voice and be
(1 person per telephone line in camp). Document all calls.
3. Recorder: (1 person) records every action made during the crisis, the time the action /
development occurred, and who was responsible. Documents everything. Needs good writing
/ note taking skills and clear handwriting.
4. Caretaker: (1 person) looks after the wellness of the crisis team. Brings refreshments and
smiles to everyone. Needs a sunny, Mary Poppins type of disposition.
5. Relief: (1 person) steps into any of the above jobs as needed. Must be an “in-control” type
of person who can take initiative when they see areas needing extra help. This person is a
6. Back-up: (1 person) This is a person who can be called upon to help with any job. Does not
have to be initially pulled from regular duties (such as with campers). Perhaps they would
serve as a back-up driver, extra security, or a messenger / runner if needed.
7. Liaison with Council: This is the role of the Camp Director. She needs to keep the Camp
Administrator and Council informed of the crisis situation, actions taken, development,
8. Runner: (1 person) Available to run messages or information around camp.
9. Camp Coordinator: This is usually the role of the ACD or Program Manager. This person
runs the camp.
All other staff would continue in their regular jobs and could be called upon to assist in
dealing with the crisis if needed.
NOTE: Be sure folder or file box labeled “crisis kit” is in a visible place in the office. The
kit should include note card for each crisis team job, notepads and pencils (Telephone,
recorder, and security people), crisis management packet with emergency phone numbers.
SUGGESTED STATEMENTS FOR CAMP STAFF
The following are helpful words that can be used when talking on the phone to someone
regarding an emergency situation. The idea is to keep a calm and reassuring attitude.
1. I understand your concern. The staff is on top of the situation. The Girl Scout office is
our designated message center and will contact every parent as soon as possible. This is the
only telephone line to the camp and I must keep the line open. Thank you.
2. We are on top of the situation. The Girl Scout office is our designated message center.
Please call the office at (510) 562- 8470 or (800) 447-4475. This is the only telephone line
to the camp and I must keep the line open. Thank you.
TALKING ABOUT A CRISIS SITUATION
With friends, neighbor, co-workers:
2. Make comparisons
3. Say “well, off the record…”
4. Be the expert (it’s OK to say “I don’t know let me find out.”)
5. Place blame
6. Escalate with crisis language
7. Cover-up / pretend it didn’t happen
8. Use Girl Scout jargon
1. Know the facts; give them out as you know them from written statements.
2. Keep the story in perspective; be concise, clear, direct, and low key.
DO NOT EDITORIALIZE.
3. Tell the good news and that “we are looking forward to business as usual”.
4. Keep a calm and reassuring attitude. What you do is important. If you are calm and
reassuring, people will be reassured.
5. Be honest / face the issue directly.
6. Use statistics for emphasis.
7. Refer to the Council Public Relations Director.
CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS (continued)
COMMUNICATING WITH THE PRESS
If someone from the press contacts you:
The best response is: “I cannot speak for the Council-please contact the Fund Development/
Communication Director (510) 562-8470”. Do not use the words “No comment”. That may
be, in effect, what you’re saying, but those words are a red flag. We are not hiding
information. We want to be accurate. Be friendly but firm. Be professional. You are
dealing with professionals who are doing a job. Part of that job may be to convince you to
talk to them; your job is to follow Council procedures.
In any situation where we deal with the press the Council has a designated spokesperson.
When you think of the myriad of details to consider in responding to the press, it’s evident
that this is the only way to go. A spokesperson must be trained to meet the cameras; to
speak beyond the reporter to the audience; to, in fact, forget the camera; to deal with the
menacing microphone; to be comfortable in the role; to take the time to think in formulating
answers; etc. etc. Whenever possible, that person should be thoroughly rehearsed.
Just think the next time you watch a TV interview or news program how many details there
are to consider-appropriate dress, standing when possible (a stronger position, but you must
stand without slouching or having your hands in your pockets), relaxing, learning to be
yourself with lights and mikes and cameras on you, etc. etc.
SAMPLE ACCIDENT OR EMERGENCY COMMUNICATION PLAN
1. In the event of an accident or emergency:
A. A staff member should deal with the injured victim(s).
B. At the same time, another staff member should act as a runner to notify the day camp
director and first aides.
**If no staff member is available, two campers may be dispatched as runners to locate
another staff member or the director.
C. Once the first aide arrives at the scene, a decision will be made to take the victim to the
emergency room, to request a doctor or an ambulance, or to request law enforcement
**Either the first aides or the camp director / assistant camp director will place the call
for more aid.
D. The camp director / assistant camp director will call the council liaison and a decision will be
made regarding informing the parents of a camper or staff member.
E. The council liaison will then notify the necessary council staff.
2. Staff members at the scene should remove campers and other staff who are not involved in
the accident or emergency situation.
3. IF THE GROUP IS OUT OF CAMP:
A. First aid should be given to the camper(s).
B. Any necessary help should be secured (car, sheriff, etc.)
**Out of camp trips should have emergency telephone numbers.
**Staff should be ready to provide
• First aid given, etc.
C. Camp should be called and the camp director / assistant camp director and nurse informed.
D. If necessary, the camp director / assistant camp director will inform council office of the
Serious Accident or Illness
Steps to follow:
1. Immediately administer first aid, as necessary.
2. Send a staff member (or, if necessary, two responsible campers) to notify the Camp
3. Camp Director will take steps necessary to handle the immediate emergency, e.g., DIAL 911
to secure FIRE-RESCUE or medical personnel.
4. Give necessary insurance information, authorization for treatment of a minor, and health
form to emergency personnel.
5. Camp Director should notify parent.
6. Camp Director should notify council liaison from list provided.
7. Camp Staff, at hospital or clinic, should keep Camp Director informed of situation.
8. Complete necessary reports.
VISITORS / INTRUDERS
1. If visitors approach a camper group asks them politely for their name and business here.
Escort them to the office for check-in with an Administrative staff member.
II. INTRUDERS (e.g. suspicious looking people)
1. If intruders are spotted or suspected on or near camp program areas the Camp Director, or
other Administrative Staff member should be notified immediately.
2. Staff members are instructed not to detain an intruder. They must instead report the
situation to the Administrative staff.
3. If necessary, the Sheriff’s Department will be called.
PROCEDURES FOR MISSING PERSONS
1. Determine by a quick search that the person is really missing. Be sure to check with each
person in the group when the last time they saw them was.
2. Notify a Camp Administrative staff member.
3. Camp Director (or representative) will sound the fire alarm.
4. Set up staff search teams with specific areas to cover. Give them specific instructions for
handling the situation and a communication / check-in plan with the Camp Administrative
5. Inform the Camp Administrator (or Council Representative.)
6. If instructed, contact 911 (Fire and Sheriff’s Dept.) DO NOT contact parents. The Council
Crisis Management Team will make the determination and contact parents.
7. Enact the Camp Crisis Team.
NATURAL DISASTER PROCEDURES
(Fire, Earthquake, Flood, etc.)
Fire drills will be conducted once a session, without pre-notice to staff or campers.
Procedures for actual fires and fire drills:
1. Report the sighting of fire or smoke immediately to the Camp Director.
2. The administrative team will do a sweep of the site to gather all campers and staff to one
general location specific to each site.
3. In case of actual fire, Camp Director or, in her absence, Assistant Camp Director, call the
Fire Stations in order listed on Emergency Phone List.
4. Unit groups are to gather together in Buddy System.
5. One staff member should have the first aid kit.
6. Unit groups walk in a single file line, silently and line up in straight lines. The Unit Leader is
in the front of the line and the Unit Counselors are in the back. The Unit Leader from each
unit reports the whereabouts of all campers and staff from the unit to the Camp Director
or, in her absence, the Assistant Camp Director. Wait for instructions. The Camp Director
times the fire drill.
7. It is each staff member’s responsibility to keep themselves and campers calm and quiet and
to see that instructions are followed.
EARTHQUAKE, FLOOD, etc.
1. Get campers to a position of safety. Report your situation to the nearest authorities
2. Keep a transistor radio on and follow local instructions.