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Safety & Accreditation


Camp Ondessonk Safety & Accreditation

All individuals working at Ondessonk choose the job because of a strong desire to serve others.  The Leadership & Staff consists of devoted individuals with extensive experience in fields related to youth development and outdoor leadership.  The summer leadership staff is comprised of proven, sound decision makers who have completed college or are actively working towards that goal.  The camper staff ratio is approximately 1:6.  Leadership & Staff training emphasizes child development, child protection, teaching skills, and responsible leadership.  First aid and CPR training is provided. Depending on position, staff members are certified by the Certified Horsemanship Association, National Rifle Association, American Red Cross, or other appropriate certifying bodies.

ACA: American Camp Association

aca logo webCamp Ondessonk strives to meet the highest health and standards.  We are proud to be accredited by the American Camp Association.  This accreditation means that Ondessonk thoroughly reviews operational practices, seeks the wisdom of other camp professionals, and continually makes improvements to comply with more than 300 written standards.  Only one-fourth of the camps in the US have earned this mark of distinction.  An on-site health center is run by a registered nurse.

CHA: Certified Horsemanship Association

CHA Certified Horsemanship AssociationCHA has developed a highly lauded certification process for arena instructors, trail guides, instructors of riders with disabilities and seasonal equestrian staff. Instructors are evaluated in five areas: safety, horsemanship knowledge and ability, teaching technique, group control, and responsibility and professionalism. CHA’s certification process has been continually monitored and refined for more than 40 years, in order to meet the needs of a changing horse industry.

The purpose of CHA clinics is to evaluate the existing knowledge and skill level of the clinic participants and to grant certification at the level that each participant is able to demonstrate his/her proficiency throughout the clinic, not to teach participants how to become an instructor or trail guide. However, everyone is certain to learn a lot at the clinic through all the knowledge shared by both participants and clinic staff.

WFR: Wilderness First Responder

Wilderness First Responder Web

Camp Ondessonk’s Executive Director, Camping Services Director and Program Director have all been Wilderness First Responder certified. The General Principles of Wilderness and Rescue Medicine with an emphasis on the prevention and identification of medical emergencies, appropriate technology, and risk management.

  • Patient assessment and emergency care including CPR, basic Life support, and the emergency treatment of anaphylaxis and asthma.
  • Environmental Medicine including hypothermia and heat illness, frostbite and cold injury; lightning, submersion, and environmental toxins.
  • Backcountry Medicine including the assessment and treatment of common medical problems.
  • Musculoskeletal Problems including unstable and stable injuries, overuse syndromes, and dislocations.
  • Wound Management including open fractures, lacerations, burns and blisters.
  • Practical Skills including splinting, bandaging, litter packaging and medical kit preparation.

Camp Ondessonk Child Abuse Prevention

Camp Ondessonk is committed to collaborative efforts that can reduce the abuse of children. As an ACA-accredited camp, we work with licensing boards, regulatory bodies, and developers of camp standards to continue to seek ways to promote safety.  Camp Ondessonk is a strong advocate for child safety.   The following standard operating procedures are in place for the prevention of child abuse.  

  • Diocese of Belleville Child Protection Policies require that all of Camp Ondessonk’s year-round staff members, summer staff members, and summer volunteers undergo an initial background screening process that includes reference checks and a criminal background search.  Ondessonk’s initial screening process is reinforced with annual criminal background checks of all employees and volunteers.
  • All Camp Ondessonk year-round staff members, summer staff members, and summer volunteers must complete an Initial Child Protection Training class prior to working with children.  Annual refresher courses are required for individuals wishing to continue their employment or volunteer service.
  • Camp Ondessonk policy forbids staff members and volunteers from being alone with individual children or minors.  This policy is widely known at Camp Ondessonk as the “rule of three”.  Additional programmatic and scheduling checks and balances are utilized to further minimize the possibility that a single staff member or volunteer is ever placed in the role of a sole supervisor of children.  For example, two or more staff members are always assigned to perform unit supervision duties during the times when campers are allowed to return to their cabins.
  • It should also be noted that Camp Ondessonk established its own child protection policies and procedures prior to the formal establishment of Diocese of Belleville Child Protection Policies.  The original child protection training template was largely shaped by efforts, starting in the late 1980s, to become an American Camp Association accredited organization.
  • Camp Ondessonk achieved American Camp Association accreditation in 1996.  In maintaining this distinction, Ondessonk must demonstrate written and practical compliance to over 250 standards, many of which are industry best-practices for the prevention of child abuse.
  • Like all of the ministries and organizations currently operating throughout the diocese, Camp Ondessonk works closely with the Diocese of Belleville Office of Child Protection to maintain documented compliance of its child protection efforts.
  • Camp Ondessonk and Diocese of Belleville policy dictates that suspected child abuse cases be reported to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services Child Abuse Hotline.  In the event a child abuse complaint is made against an Ondessonk employee or volunteer, the Johnson County Sherriff’s Department would also be notified.  It is not our duty to substantiate allegations of abuse.  Our duty is to report.

Click Here for further American Camp Association Child Abuse Prevention Resources.

View all of the Rules for Campers here.


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