Safeguarding Children at Summer Camps: A Parent’s Checklist
A guide to getting you and your child ready for summer camp.
Going away to an overnight summer camp can be a daunting experience, and not just for the child. As a parent, keeping your child safe and well is the highest of priorities, and letting them stay the night outside of the family home for the first time isn’t easy. However, while it’s not possible or desirable to keep an eye on your child 24-7, there are still a few things that can be done to keep your kids as safe as possible while away.
Make sure they are ready
While this does include having the necessary equipment, we are also talking about mental capacity. Leaving home for even a short period of time can be a big step for some children, and confidence can turn to tears once they’ve been dropped off at the gate. To spare your child such stress, you should:
- Give them a trial run. Send them away to a friends house for a couple of days to see how they cope away from the nest. You can see from this kind of warm up if they are ready for the real thing.
- Get them involved. Allow them to be part of the process of picking what age they get to go and which camp to go to. This gives them more control and familiarity over the experience and can be help them adapt to life in camp.
Stay calm and positive about their holiday
Childrens are very intuitive, and are often led by example. If they notice that you are nervous or unsure about their camping experience, then it will become a concern for them. Try to make sure you don’t show any doubts you might be having, as it can distress the child before they leave.
Ensure the summer camp staff are of a high standard
There are a number of ways to check if staff are up to the challenge of caring for children. Be sure to:
- Check their credentials and qualifications. If the camp brochure, website or leaflet doesn’t specify this, contact them. If they are unsure about their staff qualifications, it is best to avoid them.
- Visit the camp. Talking to people face-to-face is a great way of gauging what the people are like and understanding the way that they will run their camp.
Be proactive about special needs
If your child has an allergy, a health disorder or certain anxieties discuss your concerns with camp coordinators. This will ensure the camp know everything they need to keep your child's stay and happy and safe one.
Don’t give anxious children a deadline
When kids are worried about things like camp, it is tempting to ask them to give it a few days before giving up, but this simply gives them an exit strategy. Instead, let them know that if anything bad happens, you’ll be there to help them and try to convince them to give it a try. If the stress is all too much, you might want to consider not sending them, but if it is just apprehension, giving them a way out means they’ll strive to make it to that date, rather than adjust to camp life.