Overnight youth events like lock-ins, conferences, and mission trips allow your ministry to make a positive impact on young people over an extended period of time.
However, this tremendous opportunity comes with great responsibility: keeping kids safe from themselves and others. By taking the proper measures, you can better protect young people and your ministry—and help make sure everyone has an experience that’s safe, fun, and worthwhile.
Communicating with parents and guardians is a crucial part of the planning process. Parents should know exactly what the youth event entails. You might even hold an informational meeting to discuss the event and answer parents’ questions.
Also, before the event begins, minors and their parents should sign an activity participation agreement. For overnight events that include more than one high-risk activity (like ziplining and swimming), it’s a good idea to clearly spell out each activity in the agreement. That way, all parties understand the risks involved with the event. A well-worded agreement:
The agreement can outline the rules and behavior expectations for the participants, as well as the disciplinary procedures that chaperones will follow if someone violates the rules.
Consult with a local attorney to help you develop an activity participation agreement that complies with the laws in your area.
While good risk management increases the likelihood that your overnight event will go off without a hitch, insurance coverage provides an extra layer of security. Talk to ministry leaders and your insurance agent to make sure the activity is covered under the church’s insurance policy. Your agent should be able to identify any coverage gaps and suggest ways to fill them.
Outside vendors like bus companies or amusement operators should be insured, as well. Ask the vendor about insurance before signing a contract to provide services or equipment for your event.
Make sure vendors indemnify your ministry from any liability, add your group as an “additional insured” on their insurance policy, and provide you with a Certificate of Insurance well before the event date to verify that your ministry is sufficiently protected if a mishap occurs because of their services or equipment.
Staffing the event with chaperones is another vital part of preparing for an overnight activity. Bring enough chaperones to supervise the young people effectively, but only use chaperones who have passed through your ministry’s screening process. A good screening process consists of:
Even parents of the activity participants should be screened before they are allowed to chaperone. It’s a good idea to enlist the help of at least one chaperone who has undergone first-aid and CPR training.
Chaperones also should understand and adhere to your ministry’s youth policies and procedures. These may include:
Remind chaperones to stick to the list of events outlined in the signed activity participation agreements. Young people may want to try additional high-risk activities, but it’s a chaperone’s job to protect the youth and the ministry by holding to the agreed-upon activity program.
Sleeping arrangements can make overnight activities especially challenging, but there are several ways to manage the risks. Here are some ideas to consider:
Overnight youth activities can help young people grow in faith. It’s up to adults to provide a safe, supportive environment in which this growth can occur. The right mix of thoughtful planning, proper documentation, smart risk management, and careful supervision can help your ministry do just that.
Thank you for your interest in Brotherhood Mutual. We appreciate the opportunity to provide your church or other ministry with an insurance quote and will reply to your request as soon as possible.
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