Use of smart devices at children’s camps

During the summer, advisers to the Chancellor of Justice have received several questions about the extent to which the rules of children’s camps are lawful where these restrict the use of smart devices by children.

Conflicts between parents, children and camp operators over the use of smart devices may be prevented by discussing all important issues before a contract for a camp is concluded and a fee for the attendance of a camp is paid. A children’s camp operator must inform a parent about the camp’s internal rules and any other rules before a contract is concluded.

Although a contract is not concluded with a child, the child must also be informed about the conditions under which they will be living. A minor’s smart device is their own personal property, and where the rules of a children’s camp stipulate that smart devices should be temporarily surrendered for safe-keeping or left indoors, this presupposes voluntary compliance with the rules by the child. Recourse to compulsion by the staff of a children’s camp in order to seize a smart device is not appropriate. It is important for parents to explain to their child the conditions for attending a camp, before the child departs for camp.

If the staff of a children’s camp collect a smart device or other property for temporary safe-keeping, the secure storage of the items and their return to the child in the exact same condition in which they were surrendered will have to be ensured.

The legal context for this issue is a contract under the Law of Obligations Act between a camp operator and a parent for the provision of a service. A camp operator guarantees a specific programme for a child and the use of the means necessary to provide it; a parent, on the other hand, consents to the internal rules of the camp and pays for camp attendance.

The internal rules of a camp may regulate the procedure for the use of personal smart devices. If a parent consents to the conditions of a camp, they also consent to the internal rules of the camp. It is important for a camp operator to provide a parent with information about the internal rules of the camp before a contract is concluded.