The recently introduced California State Senate Bill 217, Recreational and Organizational Camps, would require the State Public Health Office to establish a minimum standard for organized camps, in addition to requirements for specific activities deemed “high-risk,” including permitting of zip lines, challenge courses, or other mechanical devices that are deemed “amusement rides.”
These changes could be costly and cumbersome for anyone who operates aerial adventures for youth groups in the state. “I urge you to review the information below and then to share your concerns with your Assembly Person and State Senator,” ACCT policy director Scott Andrews said. “Because of the schedule of the legislature, this feedback needs to reach your representatives by July 8, 2020.”
Andrews described the bill’s potential impacts in a letter to ACCT members.
Primarily designed to create regulation and permitting for camps serving children of all ages, Andrews said, SB 217 also describes requirements for operating traditional camp activities, including challenge courses.
This bill has two areas which are of primary concern to operators of youth-serving challenge courses and zip lines.
The first area of concern is the definition of an organized camp. “(t) “Recreational camp” means a site with a program and facilities established for the supervision of children 18 years of age and younger that meets all of the following requirements: (1) Operates for at least five days during any season of the year. (2) Operates for profit or non‐profit purposes, whether or not a fee is charged. (3) Serves five or more children who are not members of the family or personal guests of the camp operator. (4) Is not licensed by the State Department of Social Services as a daycare facility. (Page 12 lines 22 to 31 text of Senate Bill 217, amended in Assembly, June 23, 2020).
“The overly broad definition is a problem,” Andrews said, because it would include nearly every operation that serves children in the state. “If you are a challenge course that operates a summer program for youth, you may need to be licensed by your local health department under this bill.”
The second concern for camps is the requirement to license “high risk activities” to the same standards and in the same system as commercial amusement devices and parks. This requirement, in Chapter 7, reads:
(b) A camp shall not operate any zip line, challenge course, or other mechanical device that meets the definition of an “amusement ride” as set forth in Section 7901 of the Labor Code, unless the camp has obtained a permit to operate the zip line, challenge course, or other mechanical device from the Division of Occupational Safety and Health pursuant to the Amusement Rides Safety Law (Part 8 (commencing with Section 7900) of Division 5 of the Labor Code).
Section 7901 of the Labor Code gives Cal OSHA (DOSH) authority over amusement devices, Andrews said. In this code, Cal OSHA can determine what is an amusement ride. The practical effect of this is that zip lines and challenge course would need to have engineered drawings and be permitted by Cal OSHA (DOSH).
Currently, Cal OSHA’s Permanent Amusement Ride Division (PAR) does not recognize ACCT inspections. Annual inspections would be to an outdated ASTM standard and would likely cost more than existing ANSI/ACCT based inspections.
“This bill could have far reaching impacts on camp challenge course and other courses in California,” Andrews warned. “Please take some time to consider the impact of this bill on your operation. Share our concerns with all your state representatives.”
California uses an electronic system to collect comments through an electronic portal called the California Legislative Position Letter Portal (https://calegislation.lc.ca.gov/Advocates/faces/index.xhtml). A brief registration process is required. After registering, the confirmation email may take as long as one hour to arrive in your inbox. Once you have the confirmation email and temporary password, you can submit your comments.
Beyond that, Andrews added, “I encourage you to write to your representatives about your position and opinion on SB 217.”