Stay Footloose!

Advice on avoiding summer injuries

You can help participants in your summer ministry programs—adults, teens, and children—reduce the number of sprained ankles and foot injuries by encouraging them to take a new look at footwear safety. Tell them to forget the fashion trends; and instead, look at injury trends related to flip-flops.

Flip-Flops and Footraces Don’t Mix

A five-year study of injuries and illnesses in day and resident camps found that footwear was an underlying factor in many foot, ankle, and toe injuries.

In their article, Health and Safety: Preventing Injuries and Illnesses, the American Camp Association observed, “… Do you think about the terrain at your camp and the types of shoes your campers and staff are wearing? … Educating your campers and staff about appropriate footwear, supported by policies and procedures, is an important way that you can reduce slips and falls at your camp while also minimizing the likelihood of foot, ankle, and toe injuries.” The association also recommends that camp professionals make closed-toed shoes mandatory for applicable activities, without exception.

Feet Need Support

Flip-flops have singlehandedly caused more foot problems than any other type of shoe, claims a podiatrist interviewed on ABC’s Good Morning America television show.

"The problem with this is absolutely no support…the foot is able to go in any direction it wants to go in, and it directly impairs the ability of the foot to function as a shock absorbing part of the body," said Dr. Rock Positano, a podiatrist at New York's Hospital for Special Surgery.

Study Recommendations

The Healthy Camp Study made the following recommendations for those who operate either day or residential camps:

  • Before arrival at camp, campers and staff should have clear explanations of appropriate footwear for camp.
  • Staff training should include what footwear is appropriate for what activities.

Educating kids and volunteers about wearing appropriate footwear, and following strict policies, is an important way that you can reduce slips and falls at your camp while also minimizing the likelihood of foot, ankle, and toe injuries, the American Camp Association reports.

The American Podiatric Medical Association encourages people to wear flip-flops around the pool or beach and for short walks only. It urges people to avoid flip-flops when playing sports or walking long distances. Supportive athletic shoes are recommended for physical activities that involve walking, running, jumping, or making sudden stops and turns. Closed-toe shoes are a must for activities such as hiking and horseback riding.

Additional Resources

Brotherhood Mutual offers a variety of camp planning resources that you can use to help customers prepare a safe, enjoyable camp experience for both children and adults in their ministries. Look for more guidelines, checklists, and activities safety tips by clicking here.