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Did Your Child's Camp Counselors Have a Background Check?

by Desiree Bryant 7/25/2008 2:22:00 PM

Each year hundreds of thousands of American kids are packed off to summer camp.  How much do you know about those to whom you’ve entrusted your children? Probably very little.

Earlier this summer, for example, a 19-year-old camp counselor from Oregon was charged with five counts of criminal sexual conduct involving a girl at a camp in northern Minnesota. The Brainerd Daily Dispatch reported that a camp counselor, Spencer Krum, lured two girls, ages 14 and 16, from their cabins after dark to meet him at a camp building. There, he allegedly “asked the girls about their sexual fantasies and then engaged in sexual conduct with the younger girl.”

The state of Ohio is having difficulty passing a bill requiring background checks on volunteers and camp counselors at residential camps (see full article here) – a bill sparked by the sexual molestation of two boys by counselor Timothy Keil at a camp last year.

Camp counselors and volunteers can present a particular challenge. Firstly, background checks on young people may come up empty. As in Krum’s case, there was no prior criminal history and juvenile convictions may not have been public record, therefore, not reportable. Secondly, some states don't require background checks on volunteers. In Keil’s case, a background check was never required.

Parents and camp organizers now have easily accessible and affordable options that can help protect children, regardless of legislation.’s Volunteer Tracking System (VTS) is a unique way to monitor volunteers and employees within non-profit organizations. Krum may not have had a reportable criminal history, but he may have had other camps within the organization that found him unsuitable for volunteering. This information would have been reportable through the VTS. National Council of Nonprofit Associations (NCNA) has partnered with as preferred vendor for volunteer and employee screening. is also a consumer/applicant supplied background check portal where volunteers and employees of nonprofit organizations can obtain their own background check that can be viewed by parents and organizations over secure servers on the website.

Parents can request counselors and volunteers caring for their children obtain a background check at or request the organization join the VTS.

For more information about VTS, please visit and fill out a request for information form.


8/21/2009 12:38:39 PM #

Thanks for sharing this great article.

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9/13/2009 11:23:42 AM #

This is the best post on this topic i have ever read.



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