Risk factors associated with camp accidents

Tricia B. Elliott, Barbara A. Elliott, Mark R. Bixby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objective - Project goals included creating a database for medical incidents at a Minnesota canoe and backpacking camp and identifying those most at risk within this population using one summer's experience. Methods - YMCA Camp Widjiwagan employed a total of 123 staff and served 725 campers in summer 2000. This resulted in 9418 camper trail days (CTD), 2497 staff trail days (STD), and 20 150 participant days (PD), the evaluation units for this study. Data were collected using routine documentation: treatment logs (TL) for any event that required care, and incident reports (IR) for more serious injuries and near misses. Information was entered into an Access database and analyzed using descriptive statistics and analysis of variance. Results - Canoe and backpack trips were compared using staff and camper days (CD). There were 582 TL and 59 IR, including 12 cases that resulted in evacuation to medical care (1/1000 PD). Canoe groups were no more at risk than backpack groups (P = .607), and campers reported more incidents than staff regardless of sex or location of injury (0.4/1000 CD compared with 0.1/1000 CD; P < .001). The camper groups most at risk were those beginning a series of advanced canoe trips (10 IR/ 1000 CTD; P < .001) and those on the longest, most advanced backpack trips (9 IR/1000 CTD; P < .001). Conclusion - Careful tracking of health incidents and near misses over time can reveal which campers and camper groups are at greatest risk for injuries and illnesses occurring during participation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2-8
Number of pages7
JournalWilderness and Environmental Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Many thanks to YMCA Camp Widjiwagan, especially to the office, health professionals, trail staff, and the former Risk Manager, Steve Bruner, for their assistance and cooperation. We are grateful for M. K. Beatty and I. Haller's computer support, teaching, and patience. Finally, we thank Dr Jim Boulger whose funding made this project possible. This study was supported by grant 5 D15 PE 80104-02 for predoctoral training in Family Medicine, Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration , Bureau of Health Professions.


  • Adolescents
  • Athletic injury
  • Epidemiology
  • Injury
  • Recreation
  • Risk factors
  • Wounds


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