Minors in Facilities FAQ
We are often asked by our customers about what age is appropriate for allowing minors in their facilities by themselves, when not in programming. Examples of activities for when this might happen include:
- Swimming and using the pool
- Playing basketball with friends
- Working out in the gym
Unfortunately, we have seen many incidents where minors were allowed into a facility unaccompanied, and they ended up getting injured. There’s a reason why these cases may represent a heightened risk:
- For example, a non-swimmer may enter the pool without checking in and receiving a swim test. Then with no protections in place, like a parent/guardian within arm’s reach, they become at risk for an aquatic event.
- Or, they may use the gym equipment or basketball court without any supervision and end up getting hurt when play gets out of hand.
That’s why having clear policies and procedures in place for allowing minors into your facilities is critically important. Below are answers to commonly asked questions we receive on this topic.
At what age can we allow minors to be in our facilities alone?
The minimum age we would recommend a minor be alone in your facility would be 12. However, your decision should be based on your community’s needs, and on your organization’s programs. Any policy should also be easy for members to understand, and for staff to enforce. Many facilities will tier their rules. For example:
- When a child is 10 years old or younger, an adult 18 years or older is required to be with them at all times
- Between the ages of 11-13, an adult has to be in the facility, but not with the youth at all times
- At age 14+, a youth can be in the facility without an adult, but must wear a wristband or some other visible way to indicate the age of the child in the facility
Another common thing that we see organizations do is break down age requirements for different areas in the facility, such as the wellness floor or the aquatics center.
When determining what age is right for your organization, consider the following:
- At what age does a minor know what activities are safe or unsafe for them?
- At what age does a minor know where to go if they got hurt in your facility?
- What is the age limit for staying home alone in your state?
- What is the age that someone is allowed to open a membership with your organization?
What information do we need to have on file before allowing a minor to enter the facility alone?
Below are items we would recommend you have on file:
- Waiver signed by the parent/guardian (download our sample waiver)
- Acknowledgment of your code of conduct/rules of behavior
- Record of a viable/available emergency contact
What programs do we need to take extra precautions with before allowing minors to be alone?
For youth around age 12-16, we would recommend that they undergo an orientation to the fitness center and be made aware of any equipment that is not age-appropriate before use.
For youth who want to utilize your pool or other aquatic facilities, you will want to also take into consideration the swimming ability of the youth. For example, if that youth is a non-swimmer, you must make sure all non-swimmer protections are met. This may mean requiring a parent, or responsible adult, to be present on the pool deck or within arm’s reach of the non-swimmer.
Can minors come into the facility on a day pass with adults who they are not related to?
Yes, but if a minor is entering the facility with another family—whether a member or a guest— you will need to have a waiver signed by their parent/guardian. Another parent or adult cannot sign the waiver on their behalf. We recommend putting this information in your member handbook, on your website, as well as having signage at the facility/front desk so that people know that this will be expected.