Summer is approaching and suddenly your children will be in a new routine. Whether you are sending them to camp, day or overnight there are some very important questions that need to be asked before you send your children out the door. Do you assume the camp you chose for your kids will be safe? Have you asked the appropriate questions that would give you confidence in the camp? When we asked this question of friends and family sending their kids to camp, most parents with a slight blush and timid smile reported that their main concerns were:
Will my child have friends at the camp
Expense of the camp
Location of camp
Activities their children will be experiencing
Not one parent thought to ask – what is the camp’s risk assessment for safety? What is their safety record? Health precautions? Have the counselors been trained? If so what exactly are they trained in? Have they ever experienced any abuse problems in the past? What safety precautions has the camp put in place so my children will be safe? Wow – it’s an eye opener…so ask yourself now 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 the camp you are sending your child to had numerous accidents, revolving door of counselors through the years and a counselor that had harmed a child wouldn’t you want to know? I think we all can agree that we would want to know and most parents, after having that information would choose to send their child to a different camp….But how do you know the prior safety record of a camp if you don’t ask? You can’t always find all the information you need from Google nor from asking a friend what they think of the camp.
We spend more time trying to find out the safety rating of the car we drive then we do the safety of the camp we are sending our precious children to. So, with that said we have a challenge for you- We want to you to take the safety of your child to a new level by asking the director of the camp the following questions:
- Are criminal background checks performed on all your employees?
- Is each person checked through the National Sex offender registry?
- Do you conduct interviews and reference checks on all employees (including teen counselors)?
- How do you screen for possible sex offenders?
- During your interview process do you discuss boundaries – appropriate or inappropriate touches? Bullying?
- Do you offer your employee’s clear policies about sexual misconduct and consequences – are these policies in writing in an employee handbook?
- What steps are you taking to decrease the risk of sexual abuse at your camp?
- What steps are you taking to decrease the risk of bullying at camp?
- What type of training do you offer your staff?
- Do you offer training to staff to prevent sexual abuse and bullying?
- Are you licensed by the state?
- Are you accredited by the ACA?
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!!!