Who is Watching My Kids While They are at Summer Camp?
Going to camp is one of the most memorable experiences a child will have. To have the best experience possible, however, it’s essential to select a great overnight summer camp program.
Despite popular belief, not all camps are created equal. And, not all camps will meet your child’s specific needs.
Sending your child to camp for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience. You may worry that they will become homesick, not fit in, or not make friends. These are understandable concerns, but the best camp programs have policies in place which deal with these common issues.
You might also be concerned about who is watching your children while they’re away. It’s every parent’s goal to protect their children, and this should be a camp program’s number one concern as well.
Luckily, there are many ways to tell whether or not a camp program is worth sending your child to.
So, how can you know for sure what camps are safe?
Read on to discover what questions, qualifications, and policies safe camp programs have in common.
Going to Camp: Making Sure Your Child Will Be Safe
Bruises, scrapes, and cuts happen. But, every summer camp program should have policies and procedures in place to ensure every child stays safe. Explore the following qualifications of a safe camp to determine whether you should send your child or not.
1. ACA Accreditation
The American Camping Association offers accreditation to camps who undergo a certification process. This process requires the camp to meet 250 health, safety, training, and transportation standards.
Believe it or not, not all camps are ACA accredited. To ensure that your child is going to the best camp possible, make sure it’s ACA accredited and adheres to all other state and local laws. Some of these laws include pool operation, living accommodations, dining facilities, and Organized Camp Regulations.
2. Background Checks
It’s essential that every staff member undergoes a thorough criminal background check. Doing so is a good indication that the camp values your child’s safety and takes pride in its staff.
3. Age of Camp Staff
Knowing the age of the camp staff is essential before determining which camp to send your child to. Ideally, the camp staff will be 18 years or older. ACA recommendations, however, specifically require that 80% or more of the staff be 18 years or older.
The remaining 20% must be either 16 years or older and at least 2 years older than all campers present. Here at Pali Adventures, we require all of our staff to be over the age of 18. The vast majority of our staff is older than 20.
For summer camps with special needs campers, 100% of the staff need to be 18 years or older.
4. Medical Staff
Great summer camp programs take the medical needs of the campers seriously. They should have qualified medical staff on hand 24 hours a day. This could be a nurse or a doctor who is able to administer medications and treat children in emergency situations.
The medical staff and center should also have procedures in place which keep you as a parent in the know. For example, they should get your permission before administering any and all medications. Pali Adventures has two full-time Registered Nurses on staff to deal with campers 24 hours a day.
5. Food Selection
If your child has special nutrition needs, then it’s important that the camp can accommodate these needs. It may also be a priority for your child to have access to nutritional, healthy meals. Ask the camp what foods they commonly serve and their process for storing and serving each meal.
The camp should be especially understanding of any food allergies your child may have.
6. Disciplinary Policy
Make sure that the camp has a discipline policy in place. This ensures the safety of all children at the camp and reduces the potential for campers to break the rules. You should also make sure that you agree with the camp’s policies as a parent.
For example, a child may be sent home without a refund for bullying, partaking in illegal activities, or sneaking out at night. If you don’t agree with the disciplinary policies, then you may want to consider sending your child to another camp.
You should also ask about how minor behavioral issues will be handled.
7. Referrals and Reviews
Credible camps with good reputations should be happy to provide you with referrals. They should also have great online reviews. Check online first to see what other campers and parents say about the camp.
Address any negative reviews with the camp if you are considering sending your child there. If a camp has an abundance of negative reviews, however, it’s safe to assume that it’s not a quality camp program to send your child to.
8. Camp Director Qualifications
For ACA accreditation, the camp director is required to have at least a bachelor’s degree, undergo extensive training, and have 16 weeks of an administrative camp experience. This ensures that the director is capable of running the program and acting in case any issues arise.
It’s also important that you agree with the camp director’s policies and philosophy. They should be easy to talk to and understand you and your child’s expectations and needs.
Before sending your child to camp, ask if your child will at any time be transported by camp staff. If so, then make sure that the drivers undergo background checks and training programs. The Pali Adventures transportation group holds California commercial licenses and undergoes stringent safety checks.
10. Training and Supervision
A safe camp program should thoroughly train its staff. This means that every staff member should be trained in CPR, first aid, and AED & bloodborne pathogens. They should also be trained to deal with behavioral issues, homesickness, and emergency procedures.
When it comes to staff training, the more the better!
11. Special Needs and Accommodations
Inquire as to whether or not the camp has a policy in place for children with special needs. If the camp does not, then it’s best to find a camp that understands the needs of children who require additional accommodations.
Going to Camp and Returning Home
After going to camp, your child should return home more confident and happier. Great camps make your child want to come back year after year. If the experience was truly monumental, they may even want to become a camp counselor one day!
Want to send your child to a safe overnight summer camp program? Check out our summer camp programs and enroll your child today.