Safety is the first thing that comes to mind when planning a preschool overnight camp programme. The list of requirements is tall but necessary.
Apart from having access to a variety of excellent training venues and scenery, our Adventure Academy offers also checks off the guidelines set out by Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA). As there isn’t a specific set of instructions related to campsite venues, we applied the guidelines for childcare facilities and preschools as a point of reference.
And yes, our campsite is RIGHT INSIDE KidZania Singapore! Here are some of the criteria set out and how our venue meets these requirements:
1. Sufficient space for participants to engage in activities
Our campsite took into consideration the age group and the group size of every programme. We have conducted different group size programmes from a minimum of 20 to a maximum of 80 students. Our High Adventure Academy rooms are spacious and set up to avoid overcrowding. Besides them being just for sleeping, we utilise the rest areas for activities as well. For example, we use a multi-purpose room to conduct activities like ice breakers or hands-on activities.
One perfect example is using the situation before the shower. This is one of the most chaotic times for trainers or teachers as the kids will all be taking out their belongings. “Teacher, I cannot find my pants”, “Who dropped their toothbrush on the floor”, “Whose shirt is on the floor”? Kids tend to lay out their things on the floor and pick out the item they want.
With our spacious rest areas, the situation can be better managed. There are clear pathways for everyone to move without disrupting other activities. Hence instructors and teachers can quickly look out for their students and ensure that they are accounted for. We have CCTV cameras installed in almost every corner, especially areas that could present as blindspots. At any point in time, there will either be a sentry or facility manager who will be monitoring the camera feed to ensure participants are always safe and accounted for.
Remember us mentioning KidZania was available for us to conduct programmes at night? We will have spacious pathways and areas to do our night activity. For example, we utilise the Main city square for briefing and the whole of level 1 to spread the group out for team building activities.
2. Overnight Accommodation: Upper bunk of beds are less than 1 metre off the ground
Our modern style of bunk beds allows for the maximisation of space. However, there are concerns of participants either falling off the bed or choosing to jump off the bed.
Our bunk beds are about 1 metre off the ground, which is similar to most playgrounds for children below the age of 7. We make it a point to give a safety briefing to all children and supervise them when they climb to the upper bunk. We also stress to the children that they should climb down using the wide ladder provided by the beds and not to jump off the bed onto the floor.
Sleeping facilities should also offer privacy for the individual during lights out and gender separation. That is why each bed has its privacy curtain and rooms are designated by gender.
3. Sufficient bathing and storage facilities
Our showering facilities and toilet are right next to our academy. It is convenient and safe for kids to visit. Our bathing facilities include a water heater, and powerful water flows to ensure that the kids have a comfortable shower without catching a cold.
4. Storage Facilities for personal belongings
We have shelves in every rest area labelled for the beds that students take up. This allows us to match the belongings on the shelves with the students on the bed. The shelves are for students to store their larger bags and luggage. The shelves are close to their beds so that they can access their belongings reasonably easily. Some of the shelves are taller than the students. However, we have stools for them to climb on. Instructors will supervise and guide students if they need to get to their belongings.
5. Temperature-Controlled Facilities
In our High Achievers Adventure Academy, the temperature can be controlled within rooms. Especially at night when the temperature gets colder, we will adjust the air-conditioning units to ensure that the kids are sleeping at a comfortable temperature. From the preschool packing list we shared recently, we always encourage kids to bring an extra blanket or jacket. This is to ensure that they sleep comfortably. If they are still cold, we will adjust accordingly.
The fully air-conditioned academy also prevents pests and insects such as mosquitoes and flies from entering.
6. A fully purposed first aid room
We have found that the most common incidents during camps are falls, nosebleeds and fever. As said earlier, we try to mitigate falls from beds by giving students safety briefings and closely watching them as they climb on or off the beds. However, should they experience falls during other parts of the programme, our first aid-trained instructors and facility manager are always there to come to their rescue.
For nosebleeds, there are sinks in a few rest areas for participants to drain their nosebleeds. Instructors will attend to them when it happens.
As for fevers, we do have ice packs ready and will isolate the student in the sickbay right next to our academy so that the student can rest and feel better.
We have comprehensive evacuation plans for both fire and medical emergencies. Other than first aid trained staff and the availability of a sickbay, the National University Hospital Singapore (NUHS) is only a 10 minutes drive away from our facility.
7. Hygiene practices
Because of COVID-19, our world changed forever, and the importance of regular hygiene will be a constant safety requirement.
As we have sinks available in the rooms for kids to do basic wash up without visiting the toilet, this prevents overcrowding in the toilet, especially during washing up time in the morning or night time.
Children can also wash their hands more frequently because it is in a visible area where the teachers and facilitators can watch the children in the same room. The floors are lined with anti-slip material to ensure students do not slip when the floor gets wet.
Throughout the city of KidZania and within the academy there are LifeBouy sanitiser dispensers within easy reach of participants. Kids will be reminded as well by our facilitators to sanitise in between programme activities.
8. Staff Provision During Camp
Our staff who are the facilitators of the camp will have to go through pre-training before the camp as we follow closely to ECDA guidelines for safe preschool camp venues. We also have them trained for the first aid and certified for CPR-AED. Another factor will be that they are registered with MOE-IRS. When we have our nightly debriefing for the day, teachers and principals on site can take this opportunity to share their views with our instructors and camp chief. For example, when a student threw tantrums for not getting what they wanted, teachers can share insights on how to handle it. Teachers and facilitators can also work on how to better deal with their group of students for the upcoming day. This way, the teachers share their understanding of how students behave during the camp and how facilitators can aid teachers. Facilitators will also share their reflections for the day with the rest of the team during these debriefing sessions.
9. Nutrition and Hydration
The meals catered at the academy are from One Faber Group, which is the primary caterer on Sentosa Island with their very own central kitchen. This enables the bento sets to be packed fresh and delivered with sufficient time for consumption.
Our meals follow the guidelines provided by the Health Promotion Board. We ensure that nutritional needs are met, especially for students in camp as they will need to participate in activities that are more rigorous than their typical day. We also prepare multiple water points using large Cambros around the facility.
The facility is also equipped with dedicated filtered water points so that participants can remain hydrated throughout the programme. Academy so that students can refill their water bottles as and when they need to. Where it is not possible to bring a cambro (for example during a walk), we will ensure that students refill and keep their water bottles full before they set out for the activities. This ensures that students do not get dehydrated and suffer heat injury during the day.
10. Time Out Facilities
Occasionally participants might misbehave or have a breakdown, and Teachers will require a location for quiet time and reflection. For this, we have a dedicated room located next to the Esso station role-play that is just suited for this purpose.
11. Private exploration areas After park closure
One of the joys of an overnight programme is the freedom to explore. However, this freedom can be challenging to attain if you have to keep track of many moving bodies. The city of Kidzania is ideal for supervised exploration because it was built to allow young children to roam freely from job to job. When the park closes at 6 pm, we are permitted to conduct activities within the park with key entrances closed and monitored. So while the kids have a fun time roaming and exploring, we can rest assured that they are protected from public access and from wandering past the entrances.
We do understand the concerns that parents and teachers would have for their young participants. After all, it is likely that they are on their own for the very first time. While facilities play an essential role, it is crucial to recognise that safety lies first and foremost with people: Camp Chiefs, Teachers, Facilitators and participants. We all have our part to play to ensure a fun and safe programme!
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