Nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, just off Hwy 441 South to Atlanta, you will find one of Georgia’s “Best of Camps”. A place where kids come to experience adventure, create lasting friendships, and learn how to grow into strong, independent kids, well, if you can find the camp that is. You see, at Camp Blue Ridge, we take safety seriously, so seriously that as a first-year counselor long before Waze was a thing, I drove past the entrance to camp 3 times before I found the turn!
I’ve driven past my share of cool “Welcome to” camp signs in my day that were posted prominently on the main highway for all to see. Some might wonder why we don’t have said cool sign at Camp Blue Ridge, but I can tell you why. As a family owned and operated camp for over 50 years, we’ve made our living on ensuring that the safety of our campers and staff is our number one priority which is why you won’t see a sign directing any and everyone our way. Our first line of defense when it comes to keeping our camp family safe is ensuring that only those that are supposed to be at camp make it there. But that’s just the beginning.
Upon arrival to camp you will be greeted by our very cool and campy main gate. This gate allows us to control traffic and ensure that outside vehicles don’t enter the property without our knowledge. Camp Blue Ridge is a car free zone so the only traffic you will see on our one-way camp loop is the occasional delivery truck and our camp vehicles. This road is actually THE only way in or out.
Because we can restrict access to our camp property, we are able to allow our campers to navigate camp safely without the need for a counselor when navigating to and from activities. For us to do this, and truly celebrate the independent campers we are raising, we have several systems in place. As an activities-based camp our campers self-select their activity schedule every 3 days, allowing them to try a new activity or continue with the ones they enjoy from their previous schedule. By using this system, we can monitor attendance and take role each period to ensure all campers have arrived too their selected activity on time. In addition, we utilize a camera surveillance system throughout the exterior areas of camp which allows all fulltime staff to monitor camp in real time. Lastly, because of the layout of our facility, with cabins on the outer loop of camp and most activities and facilities on the inner loop, we can keep eyes on our campers with ease and always encourage the buddy system when walking between activities.
As an American Camp Association (ACA) Accredited Camp, we must meet a specific set of safety standards set forth by the ACA to ensure we maintain our certification. A condensed version of all of the ACA standards can be found at: http://www.acacamps.org/staffprofessionals/accreditation-standards/accreditation/standards-glance.
Our staff are vetted through an interview process that includes a reference check and highest level national criminal background check as well as the National Sex Offender Registry check. In addition, our staff undergo a minimum of one week of staff orientation which includes training in areas such as emergency management, camper behavior and supervision, program planning and management, teambuilding and first aid and CPR. Certified staff in key program areas such as climbing, waterfront and skiing receive professional training and certification by a licensed agency on how to properly apply their skills and experience to our camp facility, ensuring professional standards are met by all instructors.
When in the cabin and at activities, Camp Blue Ridge follows the “Rule of 3” policy. One on one camper/staff interaction in private is prohibited. We always have two staff members present in activity and cabin areas per our camper ratio requirements set forth by the American Camp Association. If a situation arises and a one-on-one discussion is needed, then those discussions occur within visual/auditory range of another staff member. As part of our orientation process at Blue Ridge Camp, we discuss appropriate areas for one-on-one discussions as well as how to navigate in cabin areas, transportation of campers, and other situations that may occur while at camp.
Per the ACA website, it is important to note, while individual states have varying levels of licensing requirements, ACA accreditation is the only standard across all 50 states, and it often goes well beyond the minimal standards required by state regulation. The following link highlights how ACA accreditation differs from state regulation: https://www.acacamps.org/resource-library/accreditation-standards/aca-accreditation-key-messages-parents.
When selecting a camp or preparing to send your child back to Blue Ridge Camp for another amazing summer, rest assured that we have your child’s safety and wellbeing at the top of our priority list. We treat our campers and staff like family and work diligently to ensure we are following industry standards when preparing for each CBR summer. We work hard to blend safety practices, facility amenities and required standards into a program that celebrates and builds independence, supports our caring staff and ensures that all who come and go through our gates do so safely.