Screening Summer Camps for a Safe, Fun Season

When schools let out for the summer, the season of vacationing begins—for the kids, at least. With many parents still needed at work, alternate forms of enrichment and entertainment are a must-have. For decades, summer camps have been an integral part of the fabric of American culture during the middle of the year. Today, they can still be an important opportunity for a child to make new friends, have new experiences, and enjoy their time off from school.

For parents, though, choosing a summer camp is not as simple as it once was. Today, an array of concerns fueled by stories of abuse and impropriety can leave some families feeling wary about sending their child to a sleep-away camp program or even a day camp. By taking the time to investigate and vet these organizations first, parents can develop an important peace of mind and make smarter, safer choices for camping. What do you need to know?

4 Tips for More Easily Vetting Summer Programs for Your Child

There are many steps parents can take to better understand what programs might be suitable for their children. By engaging in this process, you can assess safety and ultimately come to understand each organization better, enabling a better decision-making process. Here are the four best tips for checking out camps and daycares:

  • Investigate what kinds of background checks the camp provider performs. From criminal history to sex offender registry searches, camps should undertake thorough and in-depth vetting of anyone they intend to hire as a counselor. While some states require these checks, not all do. Check your local jurisdiction's requirements and ask for detailed information from the camp.
  • Inquire about the ratio of campers to staff. With fewer campers per counselor, there is better accountability and visibility in the organization. Ask about how the camp balances its groups and what kinds of safeguards they put in place to ensure there aren't potentially dangerous situations.
  • Ask about other safety-related requirements staff face, such as special training needs. Again, some states require additional training, while others do not. Staff should receive training surrounding preventing abuse, proper techniques for engaging with campers, and other important procedures.
  • Look for signs of past problems. Looking at reviews and searching the organization's name in the news can work very similarly to using a daycare background check. Bad reviews, or worse, tales of past abuse in the organization from the media, should be instant red flags that warn you to look elsewhere.

Understanding a camp's suitability is a big undertaking, but it can be a simple process with the right approach. As the temperatures start to rise along with the kids' energy level, knowing where you can send them for safe fun is essential. Explore your options and start evaluating which organizations you can trust today.

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Michael Klazema

About Michael Klazema The author

Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments

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