Sen. Seminara-Backed Legislation to Improve Camp Safety Signed into Law

June 3, 2024

Lamont signs bill tightening regulations and improving safety for Connecticut summer camps

By Alex Putterman, Staff writer

May 30, 2024

Legislation establishing stricter standards for state oversight of Connecticut summer camps was among 21 bills signed into law by Gov. Ned Lamont this week, his office announced Wednesday.

The bill, inspired in part by CT Insider reporting on a lack of state discipline for camps with serious statutory violations, tightens regulations in several ways:
Connecticut’s Office of Early Childhood will be required to inspect camp facilities within 72 hours after they begin operating and after the state approves a corrective action plan to address previous violations.

The OEC must prioritize new camps and one-week camps for inspection, while de-prioritizing those with national accreditation or that have received no complaints or violations over the previous five years.

A Youth Camp Safety Advisory Council will be established within the OEC. It will include at least 11 members representing a range of camps, industry groups and non-profits.
The state will be permitted to deny or revoke summer camp licenses to people who previously had licenses revoked in other states.

The summer camp proposal drew bipartisan support in the Committee on Children — with Rep. Liz Linehan, D-Cheshire, Sen. Ceci Maher, D-Wilton, and Sen. Lisa Seminara, R-Avon, among its top proponents — then passed unanimously through both the state House and Senate.

As CT Insider reporting has shown, summer camps in Connecticut are rarely disciplined even when state officials uncover significant issues. Camps found to have committed violations are typically required to submit “corrective action” reports, but state officials say they don’t regularly follow up to confirm if programs have implemented their promised changes.

In one instance, a summer camp in Connecticut was cited for, among other things, its staff’s failure “to exhibit the personal qualities to work with children.” The camp voluntarily closed and reopened last summer. Because the camp was never formally disciplined and submitted a corrective action plan to state officials, it was not subject to further monitoring.

In one rare instance when a camp had its license revoked, CT Insider found, it reopened the next year in Pennsylvania. The camp was subject of two investigations by the state Office of Early Childhood and one investigator described the conditions as “a state of extreme filth.”