Childproofing Your Camp

Written By: Carol Wisneski
Stanley’s West Arm Resort
Vermilion Bay, Ontario
Originally Published in the January/February 1992
issue of The Outfitter Magazine.


As both our children and our resort developed and matured, we provided recreation for kids of all ages; ping-pong, board games, books, Nintendo, football, beach, playground, paddle boat, sailboat, canoes, diving board and pool slide, water sports and a nature trail.

Raising our four sons and running a resort also created “eyes in the back of our heads.” There was lots of training, lessons, discipline, fun and love from parents and grandparents. Life jackets were a permanent part of their young wardrobe. We were alert to all areas that required childproofing: kitchen, and bathroom cupboards, electrical outlets, appliances, stoves, stairwells, and windows. Who didn’t know the dangers of plastic crib covers or abandoned refrigerators with doors?

But as our boys grew into young men, we relaxed our vigilance. This past season, however, we quickly realized that resort operators who may be unaccustomed to youngsters cannot let their guard down when young guests arrive.

Children these days seem to be curious as ever. With a variety of video stimulants, games and movies, they seem to have never-ending quest for things to do or new ways to have fun. I guess this is still a sign of a normal healthy kid. My point is simple, however, take time to childproof before curiosity turns into tragedy.

Here are a few true stories that may shock you.

Monday morning: the housekeeper in charge of doing laundry discovers vandalism in her work area. Oven cleaners have been sprayed, cleansers have been dumped and clothes pins have been launched into space. Remedial action: use lock and key, in spite of inconvenience to staff.

Tuesday morning: the sandcastle set are busy digging a four foot hole with a garden shovel. Remedial action: Keep gardening tools in a locked area. Provide safe sand toys as alternatives, invite children to set some play rules and reward sand projects.

Wednesday morning: an unusual amount of minnows are missing. The pet northerns who stay near the dock do not appear to be very interested in feeding. Remedial action: use lock and key. Keep dock personnel vigilant to unsupervised children.

Thursday morning: the mushroom path-lights are flattened. Remedial action: set up rules for youngsters with skateboards, tricycles, etc…

Friday morning: the nightmare heightens. We learn that our fuel storage tanks - mixed, unleaded and aviation - may have been contaminated with paint. An emergency meeting of parents and all children is called. Parents are asked to speak individually to their own children. The tone is serious, our concern is grave.

Luckily the kids were too small to complete their task. They did find a nearby ladder but could not open the tanks. Remedial action: once again it is locks, vigilance and the removal of temptation like the ladder.

Further confessions come out under the parents questioning. Outboard motor oil from a private boat was dumped into the lake, stones were thrown on to lawns and nightcrawlers were cut in the bait refrigerator.

Are you a little shocked? Whose fault is this? Where were the supervisors this entire week? Why didn’t we recognize that things were getting a little out of hand? Are they “little rascals” or just ordinary kids?

What we learned from this week is how close those kids came to serious injury and how child’s play could turn into very serious damage. We discovered that kids still like to show off, be attention grabbers and out-do one another. We saw how kids can out-fox us…but only this once.

As you think about opening your resort next season, look closely at securing equipment and areas that are off-limits. Remove the ignition keys from tractors, riding lawnmowers and four-wheelers. Share your concerns with your staff and never leave the dock area unattended. Childproof for guests of all ages and pass your suggestions on to other tourist operators.

We hope you will benefit from our experience. Good luck this season! 


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