Planning and supervising safer overnight stays

Child safeguarding and overnight stays

Sometimes events and activities for sport and recreation involve overnight stays for children and young people. Staying away from home can be exciting.

But there are also risks for their safety and wellbeing while they are away from home. This means overnight stays need careful planning and supervision.

On this page, we’ll give general advice to keep everyone — the children and young people, and the adults supervising them — safer when staying in accommodation.

Tamariki (children) and rangatahi (young person) means anyone under 18 years old. Adults supervising the trip should be 18 years or over and with adequate maturity and capability to supervise the group.

Read more about checking and training people working with children

Planning before the trip

Start the planning early

At an early stage in the planning, think about the trip logistics with safeguarding in mind. 

  • Research and agree on the right type of accommodation for the trip

  • Assess the safety risks for the type of accommodation. Have plans in place to mitigate these risks. We give guidance about this below for different types of accommodation.

  • When asking for consent from the parents and caregivers for the trip, ask about any dietary and medical needs. Plan for these.

  • Plan for emergency situations, illnesses and injuries, including situations where children could feel unsafe or uncomfortable.  Plan for any illness or injury of a child or adult on the trip.

  • Make sure you have enough adults to supervise, and that they have the maturity and experience required to supervise the group. Take the number of children in the group into account, and their ages and gender (for example, if the group is mixed gender, have male and female adults supervising the trip). There may be legal requirements for the ratios of children to adults while staying in accommodation, so researching these is important.

  • Plan for all activities needing supervision — for example, meals, leisure time, bedtime, getting up and showering. 

Age (years)

Number of adults to children or young people

Under 8

1 to 4

8 to 12

1 to 8

Over 12

1 to 10

Make sure everyone can contact one another

  • Collect the contact details of at least two of the adults supervising the trip. Provide these to the parent or caregiver of each child or young person.

  • Ensure that at least one adult supervising the trip has a list of all children and young people attending and the contact details for their parent or caregiver.

Involve the children and young people in the planning process

  • Ensure they can make decisions on trip logistics and understand what’s happening on the trip.

  • Let the children and young people know who they can speak to if they have any concerns, or to tell an adult they trust. Check if they are happy for someone from the club or organisation to discuss these concerns with their parents or caregivers. 

Brief the adults supervising the tamariki and rangatahi

  • Remind them about the expectations for their role and confirm procedures for the trip.

  • Agree on their behaviour and on being a good role model. Provide them with a copy of the club’s or organisation’s code of conduct, if available. Advise them not to consume alcohol or illicit drugs during the stay.

  • Discuss and decide how to manage any negative behaviour by the children and young people, such as bullying or arguments.

  • Make sure they are familiar with the guidance below on this web page, and your organisation or club’s child safeguarding policies and guidance.

See more guidance on planning safer trips

Arriving at the accommodation

  • Tell the children and/or young people about the accommodation and its facilities.

  • Remind everyone, including the adults, about expectations for their behaviour.

  • Remind the children and young people that they should talk to an adult they trust if they feel unsafe or uncomfortable.

  • Before moving in, complete checks to make sure the sleeping arrangements are suitable. We give examples below for different types of accommodation.

  • Allocate rooms following the safeguarding advice given below on this page.

  • If sleeping arrangements need to change during the stay, these must be in line with the safeguarding approach and approved by the trip leader. You could also choose to inform the caregivers about the changes.

  • Give everyone a copy of the schedule for the stay.

  • Consider collecting valuables for safekeeping. Store all medications appropriately.  

During the stay

As an adult supervising tamariki and rangatahi in accommodation, keep yourself safe.

  • Never be alone in a room with a child or young person. 

  • Don’t invite a child or young person into your accommodation.

  • Supervise in pairs with another adult for personal activities, such as room checks or taking children to showers or bathrooms.

  • Don’t leave children and young people to be supervised by adults who have not been pre-approved as supervisors.

  • Before entering a child’s or young person’s room, knock and wait to be asked to come in. Don’t enter the room without having another adult present.

  • Respect children’s privacy in their rooms, toilets and showers, and changing rooms. 

  • Dress appropriately in the presence of children and young people.

  • Don’t use mobile phones, iPads or cameras where children or young people are dressing or sleeping. There’s a risk that people could think you’re taking inappropriate photos or filming.

If you become aware of someone behaving in an unsafe way with children or young people, intervene straight away and talk with the individual directly. If it isn't safe to do so, find support immediately. Let the trip leader know about the incident or use the agreed process for reporting this sort of situation. Follow up to ensure the behaviour doesn’t continue later.

Make sure you:

  • address any rough, bullying or sexually inappropriate games immediately

  • don’t allow children and young people to have access to alcohol or other adult material

  • have a roster if children and young people are showering or changing in communal areas, so that children of a similar age and gender do so together.

Safeguarding in different types of accommodation


Staying in communal accommodation

Several people or more usually sleep in the same room when staying overnight in communal accommodation, such as dormitories, marae or tramping huts.

When organising stays in a dormitory:

  • check you will not be sharing sleeping spaces with other groups outside of your club or organisation

  • all adults sharing the sleeping spaces with children or young people must be pre-approved by the organising committee before the trip 

  • arrange for children to sleep close to their friends or others they feel safe with

  • group them together by similar age and by gender within the sleeping space

  • everyone should have their own bed/mattress; nobody should share a bed.

If your group is staying in more than one room, ensure that the accommodation for the adults supervising the trip is close to each room.

Marae stays

Everyone usually sleeps in the same area when staying overnight in a marae. You may be staying in the main wharenui (meeting house) or in a separate building for sleeping.

The visit may be the first visit or overnight stay at a marae for some individuals in the party. If needed, remind everyone in advance about the tikanga (protocols) for the visit. Clarify the behaviour expected from the children, young people and adults in the group.


Hotels, motels and motor camps

When booking rooms in hotels, motels or at a motor camp:

  • negotiate for rooms together — on the same floor, or in the same wing or location, or

  • book groups of children or young adults of similar ages in rooms near each other, with at least two adults from the trip nearby

  • consider booking accommodation with internal doors only (no ranch sliders or access to outside from the room).  

Make sure: 

  • the windows and doors lock properly

  • adults aren’t allocated to a room alone with children or young people, except when sharing with their own children 

  • children and young people have their own beds 

  • when sharing rooms, they have a similar age and the same gender 

  • children under 14 aren’t allocated a room on their own

  • rooms do not have minibars or access to adult video content

Tell children not to open the door to people who are not in the group while they are alone in their room.

If the venue serves alcohol (like a pub), keep children and young people under supervision at all times. 


Homestays and billeting

While homestays and billeting were a traditional part of trips away, this type of accommodation carries the highest risk for child safeguarding and are not recommended.

If the trip is hosted by another club or organisation, they may recommend accommodation with host families.

  • The host families should only be members of the host club or organisation. They should be vetted and checked.

  • Agree on their behaviour around the child or young person in advance. Provide them with a copy of the club’s or organisation’s code of conduct, if you have one.

  • Ensure children and young adults can easily and discretely contact their caregivers, coach, or another trusted adult.

  • Check in each day to make sure they are okay.

  • Sometimes a child or young person may find it difficult to voice a concern if members of the host family are listening in. Agree on an innocuous code word or code phrase they can use if they want to say something is wrong and they need help.

  • Children and young people should have their own beds. Where they will share a bedroom, group them by similar age and by gender. They should never share a room alone with an adult.

Policy templates

Having good policies in your club or organisation can help manage and address harmful behaviour.

We are developing new policy templates for sport and recreation clubs and organisations to use when they are developing their own policies. Keep a look out for the new policy templates when they are published here.

Sign up to our mailing list for updates

In the meantime, you can still download and use the child safeguarding policy templates from the Sport NZ website.

Billeting and overnight accommodation policy Transporting children and young people policy Media policy - photographing, filming and using images Code of conduct for people working or volunteering with children and young people View all child safeguarding policies and procedures on the Sport NZ website