Top Tips for Camps
- Create an antibullying policy. The first step in bully prevention is creating a policy that makes clear to camp families, staff, and campers that there are parameters and expectations of their behavior, especially with regard to bullying. The policy must be clear and administrators must be consistent in upholding its dictates.
- Create fair and reasonable discipline and consequences for bullies. Discipline and consequences should match the behavior and always have the intent of repairing the hurt or damage caused. Requiring bullies to make reparations for the damage caused teaches them that they need to find appropriate lines of social connectedness and find some empathy within themselves.
- Parent partnerships can diffuse bullying ahead of time. Have parents sign a contract with their children prior to camp to help clarify the camp’s philosophy on bullying behavior. Partner with parents on these issues during the off-season and help parents understand that if their children are involved in bullying problems in camp, there will be consequences.
- Make bullying prevention a priority from the first day of camp and let all campers know that bullying behavior is unacceptable. All campers need to feel safe both emotionally and physically. Set bunk rules with explicit examples of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors in regard to bullying. Post these rules in the cabin and have counselors and campers review together and sign.
- Ensure staff behavior matches core camp values. To prevent bullying, and to build respect and inclusiveness, staff must commit to matching actions with words. Staff orientation should include training on bullying behavior that addresses the types of bullying seen by counselors, what to do when they see it, and how to be vigilant with these issues during the season.
Historically, there have been any number of definitions for the term "bullying." In 2014, the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United States Department of Education published a "uniform definition" of bullying that will now be used by all federal agencies:
Bullying is any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated. Bullying may inflict harm or distress on the targeted youth including physical, psychological, social, or educational harm. — National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United States Department of Education, 2014