Talking with Parents about Protecting Their Children at Camp This Summer

Key Messages for Camps

  1. Camps are communities where nurturing adults support children emotionally and are committed to their safety and well-being. As camp professionals, we are painfully aware of acts of violence in public venues. We are focused on providing your child with a summer of fun with safeguards and protocols in place to reduce the risk of tragedy.
  2. As parents and grandparents, the violence in public venues concerns us and we want to protect our children even more.
  3. As camp professionals, we know we are entrusted with your children, and we take this responsibility to protect your children very seriously.
  4. Camps are secure places. Our camp staff works with our campers and public safety providers (local police and fire departments, emergency responders, hospitals, etc.) to mitigate any crises.
  5. Please be assured that extreme acts of violence are very rare.
  6. Regardless of whether or not these incidences are rare, we know that at camp we need to be prepared:
    • Our camp is accredited by the American Camp Association, which requires that we have risk and crisis management plans in place and that we conduct periodic reviews of our site and staff training surrounding a camp intruder and other crisis situations.
      • Our safeguards and protocols include visitor sign in and badges, guards at the front gate of camp, lockdown and evacuation procedures, and severe weather and fire drill procedures that are practiced with the campers. (Tailor this message to reflect specific protocols at your camp.)
      • We monitor all camp visitors (require that they report to main office, sign in, and wear badges).
      • Staff and campers are instructed to report unfamiliar people to camp office (staff is in contact by phone or radio).
      • We have done a threat assessment of our facility and have worked with risk-assessment professionals to develop procedures and teams for addressing a crisis.
      • We do all-camp drills during each session (intruder alerts, weather, and fire).
      • Camp counselors are trained to recognize and report to leadership staff any signs of a camper or peer in emotional distress.
      • The tiered leadership structure of most camps creates internal checkpoints and a support system for the entire camp community.
      • In recent years, many camps have engaged security professionals to enhance the safety of their facilities and their procedures.
    • Parents often will ask in great detail about your security plans. The information provided to parents should be sufficient to calm concerns, but should not be so detailed so as to potentially impact the effectiveness of the security program. One way to manage this issue is to have a parents’ committee that is fully briefed and able to provide assurances to other parents. An excellent resource specific to camps is from the Anti-Defamation League.
  7. As parents and guardians, you can support our efforts by reinforcing our rules and protocols with your children. Please explain that these protocols are in place to help us if something unexpected happens, and we practice these to make sure we have thought it all through.
  8. Our crisis plan includes communicating with parents. Our first responsibility is to your child and we will communicate with you as quickly as possible.

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