Guest Mediation: Lindsey M.
I have fond memories of summer camp. Swimming and canoeing in the lake. Talking long past curfew with my cabin bunkmates. Playing from sun up ‘til sun down. It was a blast, and I definitely wanted my kids to be able to have the same opportunities for fun that I did.
But I also want them to be safe, and at summer camp, whether it’s a sleep away camp or day camp, there are a lot of opportunities for danger. Before choosing a camp for my kids, I sat down and researched what was important for parents to know before signing up their kids. After all, the camp’s director and counselors are essentially your long-term babysitters. It’s important they know how to keep your kids safe and well protected. Here are a few of the questions I decided to ask the camps my husband and I were considering for our kids:
Will they be swimming or doing other water activities? As SafeKids.org notes, drowning is the “third leading cause of injury-related death among children 19 and under.” Obviously a huge concern for parents sending their kids away to a day camp or sleep away camp is how well-supervised they’ll be around water. First, you want any camp counselor to be well-versed in the first aid and pool session safety guidelines laid out in this resource for babysitters. And also be sure to find out exactly what water activities your child will be participating in and that counselors know your child’s swimming ability.
What training have camp counselors received? One of the most important steps of making sure your child will be safe at summer camp is to find out how the counselors—their main caregivers—have been trained. GreatSchools.org offers a few questions you can ask. For example, “Are there safety and first aid tests counselors need to pass?” and “How many of the counselors are certified by the Red Cross in first aid and CPR?”
What vehicles are used for transportation? If the camp will be taking your child on field trips or other excursions, BrightHorizons.org advises that you find out what kind of transportation will be used. Ask when the vehicles were last inspected and whether the drivers have received training.
How does the camp handle discipline? Chances are at some point your child will be having a little too much fun at camp and may need to be disciplined. As Travel.TheFunTimesGuide.com notes, you’ll want to be sure that the camp’s way of disciplining its campers coincides with how you handle discipline at home.
Your kids will certainly be challenged to step outside of some of their comfort zones at camp. For example, before I went to camp, I had never swam in a lake. I was very hesitant to take that first jump. But I’m glad that I did. Your kids will be asked to meet similar challenges, but that doesn’t mean they should ever be or feel unsafe. When you get answers to the above questions, you can help ensure your child has a summer that is memorable for all the right reasons.
Lindsay M writes for PublicHealthCorps. She also loves cooking, biking and photography. She is happily married to her high school sweetheart and is the mother of twin girls.