Volunteers can make a camp go 'round

Volunteer power can help build and maintain your camp or conference center but make sure you know the risks to your organization before you put tools in the hands of those who work for free.

Counting on a pool of volunteers to complete construction projects and perform general maintenance can help your camp save a considerable amount of money. Putting volunteers on the job, however, can put them at risk for serious injury and make your organization more susceptible to liability lawsuits.

Before work begins, take steps to develop a volunteer program to help manage and reduce the risks associated with volunteer labor.

Appoint a volunteer coordinator

The volunteer coordinator oversees and coordinates volunteer efforts, including managing projects and enforcing safety procedures.

If the volunteer effort is large, appoint project or crew leaders for specific areas of the camp, such as food prep and maintenance. Whenever possible, designate project leaders with expertise in the area and ensure they understand and enforce important safety issues.

Assess volunteer labor

Before work begins, assess each potential project and determine if it is the right opportunity for volunteer labor. Large or complex construction jobs, for example, generally require professional expertise to complete as do electrical, plumbing and architectural work. Construction and renovation work must meet strict guidelines and building codes. Contact your local building code department or zoning office in your area.

In addition, jobs that require work on roofs and the use of ladders and scaffolding are inherently dangerous and require advanced training and supervision of safety procedures. Know the state standards in your area as they relate to minors. Minimum standards and laws prohibit minors from certain work, such as climbing ladders and roofing.

Manage volunteers

Volunteer coordinators need to take into consideration varying ages and abilities of potential volunteers and provide guidance, when necessary, to match people with appropriate tasks.

Send your volunteers to an orientation class to educate them on the expectations and physical requirements of the various jobs. Following orientation, volunteers can select an assignment based on their own limitations.

Check your protection

Have your volunteers fill out a volunteer application containing emergency contact information and sign a waiver that helps protect your organization from liability issues. Also, be sure to consult your insurance provider to determine whether your camp or conference center has the proper insurance coverage and discuss any potential workers' compensation exposures associated with using volunteer labor. In addition, determine if your volunteers have appropriate medical coverage.

Visit https://www.churchmutual.com/campsafety to review more safety information.

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Church Mutual Insurance Company
P.O. Box 357 | 3000 Schuster Lane | Merrill, WI 54452-0357
Telephone (800) 554-2642 or (715) 536-5577

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