4-H volunteers are required at 4-H events to provide a safe environment. Keep the following in mind.
- Ratio – A ratio of 1 adult chaperone for every 10 youth is recommended. A lower ratio is recommended if you are working with younger children. It is recommended to have the ratio of like gender (e.g. 1 male chaperone to 10 male youth.
- Age Requirements – Chaperones must be at least 21 years of age at the time of the event.
- Youth Protection – Chaperones must be a current 4-H leader which includes completing the 4-H Youth Development Youth Protection Process.
Expectations of Chaperones
Chaperones need a role description outlining what is expected of them including the circumstances they may encounter in the volunteer role. Chaperones are accountable to the 4-H Youth Development staff person. The Chaperone Expectation Statement form can be used at a county and state level for adults who are volunteering in chaperone roles. In case of emergencies, chaperones need to address the immediate situation focusing on the care and safety of the participant(s) involved.
When faced with a situation that is uncomfortable to a chaperone, the volunteer should consult with the 4-H Youth Development staff person as soon as possible so an appropriate course of action can be taken. 4-H Youth Development staff needs to provide emergency contact information to a chaperone.
Maintain good use of confidentiality when addressing personal issues of a youth or other person.
Ratio – A ratio of 1 adult chaperone for every 10 youth is required for overnight event . It is recommended to have the ratio of like gender (e.g. 1 male chaperone to 10 male youth). Allowances can be made when both genders are staying in the same facility (e.g. hotel rooms located next to each other). However, it is recommended that more than one female chaperone check male rooms and females do not enter the male rooms (and vice versa) or that male and female chaperones check rooms together. If the facility does not allow for lodging in a similar proximity (e.g. dorm rooms or camp cabins) the like gender ratio should apply.
Rooming – It is not recommended for adults and young people stay in the same room. This situation allows for a greater risk of inappropriate behavior. In addition, it does not allow young people to spend free time with other youth or to practice skills like decision-making, problem-solving and assuming responsibility. There may be an exception for family members, where this may be allowed, but it is not encouraged.