As parents we find ourselves balancing the questions of how we help our children grow with how we keep them safe. In particular we struggle with the issue of who we put in positions of influence in their lives. We do this at camp in three ways.
1. People. My father used to say that he could run a great camp in the desert, if he had the right staff. He was right. Finding the right people is the most important thing we do. Of course we start with people we know, and most of our staff began with us as campers, so we know them very well. The others are usually recommended by people we know. Those who love camp the most find staff ready to love camp the best.
It is worth noting here that we are a traditional camp. Traditional camps hire staff with the priority of youth development. We do this through skill development that is stronger than many sports camps, but we are not willing to hire skill apart from character.
2. Policies. Even though we hire people we know very well, rigid hiring policies are also important. Of course we run criminal and sex-offender checks on everyone, and we run driving records on any who might drive, but we believe the most important filter is a rigorous and consistent interview process. We also check references and verify volunteer and work histories as appropriate. Finally, if you want to work with our campers, you are going to be our friend on facebook.
3. Procedures. Depending on their role at camp, our staff training is between six days and two weeks, and it is very rigorous. We just posted our staff manual on the website, so you can see for yourself. We also require all of our counselor staff to receive a certificate from www.ministrysafe.com. You may find this a good resource for your family as well.
Finally, we are very proud of our counselors, we believe we know their character, not just their conduct. We know many of their families and we stay in touch. But camp is also a special environment, where we live in a closed community, and see each others’ best qualities. It is up to you to monitor and determine how much contact you want your camper to have with their counselor in the off season.
As camp parents we wanted to let you know what we do as camp directors to keep our children safe. We also wanted to encourage you with the reminder that a great camp experience should be one of the most important growing experiences in a child’s life. We promise to work hard to make that the case for your camper, just as it has been for ours.
Adam and Ann