If you’ve spent any time on this site, you know I’m a HUGE fan of Pattie Fitzgerald and her business SafelyEverAfter. The seminar of hers I attended earlier this year at Diddy and Gaga’s preschool inspired my top post thus far — “Tricky People” Are the New Strangers — which led to the both of us being SURPRISE-featured on a CBSMiami story last week. (How does one get SURPRISE-featured on a CBS news story? I will be blogging about that soon. It was a trip-and-half, the kind of trip that starts REALLY REALLY BAD … and ends with the forces of right, and good, and decent, and honest, and honestly, REALLY ANGRY, somehow winning the day. How’s that to keep you coming back for more?)
Anyway: I love Pattie. So I’m thrilled to be hosting her here today. Read on, and rest easy that your kids are going to have the incredible summer camp experience YOU deserve. (Oh, happy, quiet, empty house … I DREAM of my kids getting big enough to leave me alone in my happy, quiet, empty house for a few weeks!)
Summer Camp! Kids love it, so do parents. It’s practically a rite of passage!
Most camps are safe and the experiences can create a lifetime of wonderful memories for our kids. But, before packing everyone up for the summer, take a few minutes to review our safety checklist with helpful parent tips so that camp can be the fun and exciting experience it should be for everyone.
1. Find out if the camp is accredited by the ACA – American Camp Association.
While it isn’t a foolproof guarantee, it shows that the camp takes its responsibilities seriously and must follow certain guidelines and regulations regarding health and safety. If a camp makes lots of excuses why they aren’t certified, find another camp.
2. Check out the staff. It’s ok to ask:
- Who are the counselors (high school or college students, hired hands?)
- What’s their training and supervision policies?
- How are they screened, background checked, are they fingerprinted? (That’s the only way to ensure that there isn’t a registered sex offender working there. The camp should do more than just calling someone’s references.)
3. What’s the camper to counselor ratio?
There should be at least 2 counselors to every group, particularly for very young age groups.
4. Sleep-away camp? Who’s sleeping where?
Are they in bunks, tents, sleeping bags, cabins? How many counselors are assigned to each cabin? And what’s the policy if a child needs to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night?
5. How are the age groups separated?
Much older campers shouldn’t have a lot of unsupervised time around much younger campers.
6. Set up the “safe grownup list” ahead of time with your child.
Who else can they go to if they feel uncomfortable or get an “uh-oh feeling” from anyone there, including another child?
7. Have a conversation with your child ahead of time …
… and review some basic personal safety concepts including “no private parts games” and “no secrets if something makes them feel yucky.” Let your child know they are the BOSS OF THEIR BODY, whether they are 5 or 13.
8. Give your child a couple of strong “scripted lines” to help them be assertive.
For example, “That’s NOT Ok.”. “Stop touching me.” “I said NO!”
With a little “safety net” in place, your campers can have an awesome time this summer.
Pattie Fitzgerald is the founder of Safely Ever After, Inc. and is recognized as a leading expert in the field of child safety and sexual abuse prevention education. A former preschool teacher, Pattie is certified as a Safety Educator and Child Visitation Monitor, and has worked tirelessly as a child advocate for over ten years. Admired for her positive approach, Pattie’s unique brand of “Safe-Smarts curriculum” is used in schools throughout the United States. She is the author of two children’s books, “NO Trespassing – This Is MY Body!” and “Super-Duper Safety”. Pattie has been featured on Good Morning America, CNN Headline News, CNBC, and MSNBC. www.safelyeverafter.com