Overnight and weekend-away events offer children and young people valuable sport and activity experiences, where they can compete and practice with new teams and opponents and develop new skills and learn more about themselves and others.
But, tournaments, events and camps involve children and young people spending time away from home under the care of others who are not their parent/caregivers.
Away-from-home events need to be managed responsibly to ensure children and young people are safeguarded and parents/caregivers feel confident that their children will be looked after well. Thorough arrangements need to be put in place for a smooth-running, enjoyable, and safe time away. Children need to know who they can go to if they have any concerns or problems while they’re away. Supervisors and Child Safeguarding Representatives need to be clear about the wellbeing requirements and needs of all children in their care.
Before the trip
Well in advance of a trip away, parents/caregivers should sign a consent form giving permission for their child to attend the event. A consent form should include:
- parents/caregivers contact information and another emergency contact
- children’s medical, dietary, mobility and religious requirements
- approved medical treatment if needed without immediate consent from a parent/caregiver, such as taking painkillers, or emergency procedures as required.
Hold a trip meeting
All parents/caregivers and the organisers of the trip should meet to talk about the trip arrangements and discuss any concerns and questions people have. This should include discussing accommodation arrangements (which could be staying in a hostel, motel, marae or being billeted with families) and transport.
Providing trip information
The trip leader needs to ensure all parents/caregivers are given full details about the trip, which should include:
- dates and times of travel to and from the event, and during the day/s while away, including when you expect to arrive back
- arrangements for pick-up and drop-offs
- accommodation details, including full addresses and phone numbers
- event venues or fields
- eating arrangements, such as self-catering or eating out
- point of contact while away, including phone number/s and emergency contact
- details of accompanying adults
- gear list
- who to contact prior, during or after the trip, if parents/caregivers have questions or concerns.
Good practice for attending overnight events
Good practice for children/young people travelling and attending overnight events should include:
Supervisor and adult responsibilities:
- Have a lead person who has oversight of the trip, responsible for distributing information to parents/caregivers, and has access to all necessary contact details.
- Everyone should be briefed and given trip guidelines, so they are clear about the rules and who to contact with concerns.
- Have a correct ratio of adults to children, including enough adults in case someone has to deal with an emergency or gets sick.
- Monitor and supervise children actively - do head counts, set up a buddy system.
- Supervise activities of a personal nature in pairs, for example, bed checks.
- Immediately address any rough, bullying or sexually inappropriate games.
- Role-model good behavior and boundaries by respecting children’s privacy in toilets or showers, not allowing children and young people to have access to alcohol or other adult material and having an agreed way of managing children’s behaviour positively.
- All drivers are licensed and vehicles have a current WOF.
- Have suitably qualified/experienced person/s in place to match the activity.
- Have a plan for any illness or injury of a child, supervisor or accompanying adult.
- Ensure all activities relate to the event or programme. You should not detour to other venues that weren’t stated to parents/caregivers.
- Children and young people sharing bedrooms should be of a similar age and gender.
- Have a roster where children and young people are showering or changing in communal areas, so children of a similar age and gender do so together.
- All children and young people should be given a briefing or code of conduct of expected behaviour. This should include who they can talk with if they feel unsafe or uncomfortable while away or travelling and how they can get hold of these people (for example, a number to text, or face-to-face contact).
The host club should recommend suitable accommodation with host families (who should only be members of the host club).
Share your organisation's Code of Conduct and Billeting and Overnight Stay Policy with the host family and discuss how these might apply in their home during the stay.
Children should have their own beds. Where children or young people are sharing a bedroom, children should be of a similar age and gender.
Have a plan for emergency situations, including situations where a child feels unsafe or uncomfortable. Ensure children can easily and discretely contact their caregivers, trusted adult or Child Safeguarding Representative.
Implement a process for checking in with children each day to ensure the health, safety and welfare of children being hosted in other’s homes.
Check you will not be sharing sleeping spaces with other groups (outside your group).
Adults sharing sleeping spaces with children must be preapproved by the organising committee and caregivers prior to the trip.
Appoint ‘safe adults’ in the room and arrange for children to sleep close to their friends or others they feel safe with.
Do the windows and doors lock properly? Consider using accommodation with internal doors only (no ranch sliders or access to outside from the room).
If possible, negotiate that all children and young people are housed on the same floor/wing. If not possible, groups of similar age players from the same organisation should be clustered in rooms near each other with at least two supervising adults for each cluster.
Violent and adult movies should be disabled on televisions and all people should be clear that showing children age-restricted material is prohibited.
Minibars should be unavailable in rooms where children are.
Where children are staying in a venue which serves alcohol, children should always remain accompanied by two supervising adults. For instance, when children are put to bed, two adults should remain in their own room near the children. Children should be briefed about not opening the door to people who are not in their group while alone in their room.
- Parents/caregivers complete and sign a consent form, including their contact details and relevant details about their child, including medical, dietary and religious requirements.
- Hold an information meeting before the trip and provide full details about the trip in a document parents/caregivers can refer to.
- Ensure all parents/caregivers have the trip leader’s contact details.
- Ensure children have all the required gear.
- Make sure parents/caregivers are satisfied with all arrangements, including the adult supervision, travel, accommodation, itinerary, and emergency plans.
- Know who to contact if parents/caregivers have concerns before, during or after the trip and ensure you get your concerns listened and responded to.
More child protection guidance