By Donna de Levante Raphael
Pride Parenting Columnist
Okay, so summer’s just a few weeks away and many kids will be enrolled in camp. Whether day camp or overnight camp, how do you know your child’s camp is SAFE? Have you asked the appropriate questions that would give you confidence in the camp?
When we questioned a few friends and family members who were sending their kids to camp this summer, most parents – with a slight blush of embarrassment and timid smile – reported that their main concerns were:
• Will my child have friends at the camp?
• Activities their children will be experiencing?
Not one of these parents thought to ask about the camp’s risk assessment for safety, their safety record, how their counselors were trained, and what precautions have been put in place to ensure the safety of children who attend.
Wow – what an eye opener! Kind of scary!
Have you EVER asked these questions to a director or even thought about them before? What would you do if you had prior knowledge that your child’s summer camp had numerous accidents, revolving door of counselors through the years and/or a counselor who had harmed a child? Obviously you would want to know!
If any of the above were true, I think we can all agree that most parents would choose to send their child to a different camp. But how do you know about a camp’s safety record if you don’t ask? You can’t always find all the information you need from Google.
It’s funny, most of us spend more time trying to find out the safety rating of the car we drive then the safety of the camp we are sending our precious children to. So we have a challenge for you – take the safety of your child to a new level by asking the director of the camp the following questions:
1. Are criminal background checks performed on all your employees?
2. Is each person checked through the National Sex offender registry?
3. Do you conduct interviews and reference checks on all employees (including teen counselors)?
4. How do you screen for possible sex offenders?
5. During your interview process do you discuss boundaries – appropriate or inappropriate touches? Bullying?
6. Do you offer your employees clear policies about sexual misconduct and consequences – and are these policies in writing in an employee handbook?
7. What steps are you taking to decrease the risk of sexual abuse at your camp?
8. What steps are you taking to decrease the risk of bullying at camp?
9. What type of training do you offer your staff?
10. Do you offer training to staff to prevent sexual abuse and bullying?
11. Are you licensed by the province?
12. Are you accredited by whoever the governing body is for kid’s camps? (Your job, mom and dad, is to find out who the governing body is)
Your children deserve to go to a camp that takes their personal safety as seriously as you do. So please take the time to ask your camp director these questions, so you can be satisfied and confident that the camp you are sending your child to is doing everything they can to ensure your child’s safety.
But please don’t stop there – talk with your children about their personal safety. Talk with them about “what if” scenarios so you can see if they will come up with the safest and smartest choices when away from you. Let your children know they can talk to you about ANYTHING!!!
We owe it to our children to send them to a camp we feel confident has done its best to educate and train their staff on prevention education so that your child will have a safe and happy summer. We owe it ourselves to allow our children the freedom to experience new things without us and feel that we have done everything we can to ensure their safety.
After all, don’t you think your children are worth it?
Former writer and publisher of the parenting magazine I-Parent and women’s magazine Cayman Woman. Currently working on editing a new parenting media site and releasing a parenting book. To contact Donna de Levante Raphael: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more parenting information visit -’Village Parent’ Facebook page. “Like” us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/VillageParent.