The full House Committee on Education and Labor approved the Youth Camp Safety Act last week by a vote of 26 to 7.
The next hurdle for supporters of the measure will be bringing it to the floor for a vote by the House of Representatives. The Carter administration still shows no sign of welcoming such a vote.
A few hours after the committee's favorable action. Mitch Kurman was invited to go over to HEW to confer with an official there. Mitch became a one-man citizen's lobby for camp safety standards after his teen-aged son died in a camp accident more than a decade ago.
Young campers had been taken into rapids by an unskilled "counselor." Some canoes overturned, but the boys were rescued.
Not long afterward, the same counselor took young campers into particularly dangerous rapids. Again canoes went under. This time Mitch's son lost his life.
So there was Mitch sitting across the table from an HEW official who thought the Committee on Education and Labor had acted unwisely. "We really don't see the need for this legislation," he told Mitch.
After the meeting, Mitch phoned me to tell me what had happened. "I laid it all out for him," he said. "Case after case, with names and dates and death reports. When I got through, all he could say was that they still didn't see the need for federal camp safety standards."
Mr. and Mrs. Richard F. Runck of 6011 Belmont Ave., Cincinnati, see the need. I have just received a letter from them that says:
"Had satisfactory legislation been in effect in 1973, our daughter Carrie would be with us today. She was killed at a private camp in Virginia, thrown from a runaway horse. She and another 12-year-old camper had been permitted to ride unattended about a half-mile from any adult supervision."
I wonder how that HEW official would feel about the need for safety standards if his daughter had been killed in this kind of accident.