Sports, Recreational and Educational Camps

Sports camps are special programs where individuals, primarily youths < 18 years old, come onto campus to take part in training and skills development clinics for a specific sport led by members of the Harvard University athletics department coaching community. Sports camps held at the University are exclusively operated by members of the Harvard coaching staff and primarily take place during the months of June, July and August on the University's athletics fields or inside venues.

Educational camps are those focused on non-physical development activities such as performing arts, music, academic learning programs, science, technology, engineering, math (STEM), magic, and crafts. Generally, educational camps are single session, daytime events, lasting anywhere from 3-4 days to a week or more, held in one or more of the classroom and laboratory buildings on campus. Occasionally, educational camps may include programs where participants and counselors (1) stay overnight sleeping in campus dormitories or other University housing.

Recreational camps incorporate general physical fitness through low or moderate levels of strenuous play providing participants, usually members of the local community 17 years old and under, an opportunity to enjoy indoor or outdoor recreation activities in a non-competitive setting. Examples of recreational camp activities might include: hiking, Yoga, Tai Chi, rock wall climbing, swimming, and aerobics. Generally, recreational camps can last from one week to 1-2 days per week for the entire summer. Recreational camps primarily take place using the on-campus athletic facilities however may occasionally involve off-campus sites such as for sailing/boating events. Recreational camps may include programs where participants and counselors (1) stay overnight sleeping in on or off-campus housing or even in temporary outdoor structures such as tents.

Historically, camps held at Harvard are on a short-term and/or seasonal basis. While these camps may, on occasion, be organized and sponsored by a Harvard school or department, most camps (sports and otherwise) held on campus are considered independent from the core teaching, research and administrative activities of PFHC. Unless otherwise acknowledged by the Athletic Director or relevant School's administrative office(2) to the contrary, all camp operators, and therefore their camp activities, are considered to be third party, separate (legal) entities from the President and Fellows of Harvard College, and therefore responsible for their own risk management programs.

Non-Harvard University Run Camps

Independent operators wishing to hold a camp on Harvard property and/or utilize our facilities and equipment are able to do so only after documenting compliance with the risk controls constituting the University's best practices for camps. The control environment applicable to all non-PFHC sponsored sports, recreational and educational camps has seven (7) components. Before being allowed onto Harvard premises, the operator must:

  1. Supply advance copies of all printed materials (brochures, registration forms, participation agreements, etc.) and/or links to all electronic versions of the same;
  2. Submit an executed copy of the facility use license agreement to the University prior to promoting the event and before being permitted on Harvard premises;
  3. Provide a copy of their camper health and wellbeing plan which describes dates and hours campers will be under operator supervision, staffing levels particularly how many are assigned to each designated activity, any equipment or training aids being brought onto campus, meal and sleeping accommodation plan (if applicable), transportation accommodation plan (to, from and around camp, as applicable), weather-dependent activity modifications, non-emergency medical treatment administration (medications, inhalers, joint braces, protective equipment, training aids, etc.), accommodations for campers with physical or mental disabilities and/or special needs, copies of all applicable permits and licenses, and documentation of compliance with Harvard’s Safety and Protection of Minors on Campus policy;
  4. A schedule of staff, volunteers, and/or supervisors expected to attend and oversee the camp with specific notation of each’s relevant certifications, emergency medical/first aid capabilities, and other pertinent training or qualifications;
  5. Obtain signed parental consent and release agreements for each camper [see Exhibit B of the facility use license agreement];
  6. Register the program in the Harvard University Youth Protection Registration Portal (only for camps that include participants who are under the age of 18).
  7. Document that the operator carries the specified types and amounts of commercial insurance.

Depending on the applicable jurisdiction, there may be additional obligations imposed by local regulatory bodies especially situations that involve minors. Camps held in Massachusetts may fall under the regulatory purview of Massachusetts Department of Public Health at 105 C.M.R. 430.000 et seq., “Minimum Sanitation and Safety Standards for Recreational Operators for Children” (the “DPH Regulations”). It is the camp operator’s responsibility to determine whether such rules apply to their camp, and if so, ensure that their program complies with DPH regulations. It is the TUB sponsoring office’s responsibility to assure each camp-licensee under their oversight fulfills the applicable risk management practices. Failure to do so exposes the cognizant department to the increased financial consequences imposed on the University for the portion of a loss that would have been transferred to the operator if the applicable standards and practices had been followed.

Non-PFHC camps, regardless of the operator's relationship to the University, seeking to hold activities or events on a site that is not owned or controlled by the Harvard are solely responsible for satisfying whatever operational and legal requirements are imposed by the site owner (i.e. minimum levels of commercial insurance, counselor background checks, indemnification, etc.) The University’s insurance coverage does not apply to independently organized camps even if the operator is a Harvard faculty or staff member.   

Camps Operated by Harvard University

Harvard University sponsored and organized camps being held on campus or at a non-Harvard site are automatically afforded the benefit of protection under the University's Master Insurance program as long as the responsible School or Department has: 1) registered the camp in the Harvard University Youth Protection Registration Portal, 2) is in full compliance with the University’s Policy on the Safety and Protection of Minors, and 3) none of the scheduled undertakings fall on the excluded activities list(3). Sponsoring TUBs may be required to incorporate additional risk controls and/or procure special insurance for camps engaged in excluded activities.




(1) Counselor means an individual (paid staffer or volunteer) who has a supervisory role with and who may have exclusive responsibility for (recreational and educational) campers.
(2) While nearly all sports camps fall under the scope of Harvard’s Athletics Department and Athletics Director (AD) purview, some do not. For camps falling outside of the AD's authority, particularly recreational and educational camps, an officer from the sponsoring TUB’s or School’s administrative office must provide such acknowledgement.
(3) Excluded camp activities are: diving (platform or spring board), tackle football, rugby, cheerleading with stunts, hockey with checking, trampolines and spring boards, bungee jumping, hot air balloons, motor sports, cliff diving, hang gliding, luge, parachuting, sky diving, exotic animals, fireworks, weapons, tattoos (permanent), and body piercing.