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My Turn: Important protection for kids at camp

One of my proudest moments in my first legislative session was enhancing the protection of our children while they are enjoying New Hampshire’s great camps. By requiring criminal background checks for volunteers and employees at camps, this new law protects our children and our economic engine of tourism, and it fills gaps in enforcing safety at camps.

With this law, we are putting our children’s well-being first, as it always should be. This law supports New Hampshire’s image of family and provides reassurance that, yes, New Hampshire cares about our children. Our most precious resource is our children, and this bill protects young campers from those with records of sexual abuse and violent behavior.

The New Hampshire Camp Directors Association supported this bill because state camps want families to know that their children will be protected while under their care. With the successful passage of House Bill 295, our goal for protecting young campers from avoidable harm is achieved. The long-term economic benefits of tourism is an added bonus.

Our communities could not thrive without our economic engine of tourism. New Hampshire is blessed with natural beauty and creations – from our majestic mountain ranges to our forests and spectacular views with a bountiful variety of recreational pursuits. An average of 34 million visitors enter New Hampshire each year, and they contribute more than $4 billion of revenue to the state. They also make possible 62,000 tourism jobs each year. That supports New Hampshire in a positive way, fed by campers who visit New Hampshire as children. They return throughout their lives for the recreation and tourism of our state that they fell in love with at camp.

We as parents, grandparents and legislators have a responsibility to ensure the safety of our children. This legislation is an important step in providing necessary protections for our children as they experience a great New Hampshire tradition, summer camp.

(State Rep. Tom Schamberg is a Democrat from Wilmot.)

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