Top Tips for Camps

  1. Establish a mental health support network. Build relationships with community mental health resources prior to your camp season.  Have professionals in place that you can contact at any time to help you with mental health issues.
  2. Provide a positive camp environment. Feeling safe is critical to a child’s learning and mental health. Promote positive behaviors such as respect, responsibility, and kindness. Prevent negative behaviors such as bullying and harassment. Provide easily understood rules of conduct and fair discipline practices. Teach campers to work together to stand up to a bully, encourage them to reach out to lonely or excluded peers, celebrate acts of kindness, and reinforce the availability of adult support.
  3. Create a sense of belonging. Feeling connected and welcomed is essential to a child’s positive adjustment, self-identification, and sense of trust in others and themselves. Building strong, positive relationships among campers and staff is important to promoting mental wellness.
  4. Educate staff on the symptoms of and help for mental health problems. Information helps break down the stigma surrounding mental health and enables staff and campers to recognize when to seek help. Your mental health professional network can provide useful information on symptoms of problems like depression or suicide risk. These can include changes in habits, withdrawal, decreased social and academic functioning, erratic or changed behavior, and increased physical complaints.
  5. Establish an incident response team. Being prepared to respond to an incident is important to safeguarding campers’ physical and mental well-being. Incident response teams should include relevant administrators, staff, and mental health professionals who collaborate with community resources.

Tips adapted from Supporting Children’s Mental Health: Tips for Parents and Educators. National Association of School Psychologists.

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