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Overview of SB 217 (Portantino)

Senate Bill 217 is currently authored by Senator Anthony Portantino from Senate District 25 in Southern California. The bill has been introduced in response to a drowning at a California day camp. 


The California Collaboration for Youth and its member organizations are committed to the safety of children.  CCFY has introduced bills and lobbied energetically for more than a decade to have day camps added to the health and safety code for organized camps.  These bills have either died in the legislature or have not received a governor’s signature.  


The current bill, SB 217, proposes that all camps be regulated. However, the regulations proposed by the bill, though well-intentioned, are based on misinformation, misconception, and misinterpretation of regulations and certifications that already exist. 


This bill adds a new camp category and definition called a recreational camp, and does away with the long-standing regulatory category of “organized camp."


According to SB217:


“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 nonprofit 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 California Department of Social

Services as a daycare facility.


This definition is problematic as it adds potentially thousands of programs throughout the state to the health and safety code. This dramatic increase in what qualifies as a camp will make it impossible for the health and safety monitoring, oversight and partnerships between camps and the appropriate regulating bodies to happen effectively.


Unfortunately, many of the provisions contained in SB 217 do not further the goal of increased camp safety and in fact, may pose a significant risk to children.


SB Bill 217(Portantino) proposes changes to:

  • State permits and licensing

  • Camp monitoring and inspection

  • Staffing qualifications and staff screening, training, and ratios

  • Safety and emergency procedures

  • Health-care provisions and procedures

  • Child abuse prevention procedures and mandated reporters

  • Site and facility requirements

  • Aquatics

  • Horseback riding programs and facilities

  • Firearm and archery programs

  • Challenge courses and zip lines


The text of the bill can be found here.

The California Collaboration For Youth is monitoring this bill and working to organize responses to the bill.



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