Chances are you’ll encounter some camper behavior this summer that leaves you frustrated, confused, or worn out. But don’t worry — these tips will help you handle difficult camper behavior and keep everyone on track for a great experience!
Remember to follow any behavior management guidelines specific to your camp or your director’s preferences, and keep the following in mind:
- Give the camper one warning; make it clear that the behavior or action was inappropriate and undesirable.
- Give the camper a chance to explain; he or she may have a good reason for the behavior.
- Be consistent and impartial.
- Stay cool and calm; keep strong emotions in check.
- Avoid lecturing or embarrassing the camper; discipline in private if possible.
- Stress that the camper's behavior is the problem, not the camper's personality. Help the camper identify acceptable alternatives to the problem behavior.
- Once the disciplinary time is over, accept the camper as a part of the group again.
- Follow the camp behavior management policies for continuing discipline problems.
(From Behavior Management 101)
Camp experts have written extensively on managing camper behavior for Camping Magazine. Check out a few of the most recent articles:
- Behavior Plans at Camp — A Powerful Tool, by Bob Ditter
- Camper Behavior — Growth without Shame, by Bob Ditter
- Confessions of a Disciplinarian: How Managing Camper Behavior Can Save the Summer, by Stephen Gray Wallace, MS Ed
- Do You Want To . . . Hey, Look Over There! Strategies for Working with Children Who Have Attention Deficits, by Chris Thurber, PhD
- There Is a Reason! Understanding Challenging Behavior, by Scott Arizala
ACA also offers a recorded webinar on Managing Difficult Camper Behaviors, hosted by clinical counselor Susan Fee, MEd.
How do you handle difficult camper behavior? Share your tips and success stories in the comments below!
Photo courtesy of Sugar Bay Holiday Resort, Zinkwazi, Nkwazi, South Africa