Summer is just around the corner and many parents are considering what summer camps are available and making plans for their children. No matter if you’re selecting a day camp or a sleepaway camp, your child’s safety is most important.
So before you hit “register,” set aside time to research your top choices and ensure that you and your child feel confident about where they’ll be spending the summer. You can also use this time to prepare your child and give them a toolbox for the future by facilitating important conversations on body boundaries and keeping secrets.
Before you send your child to camp, have a conversation about healthy body boundaries and how to ask for help.
Whenever you have these conversations, commit to being direct and transparent about body parts (even if it makes you feel uncomfortable!). Use anatomical words to describe genitals instead of relying on cutesy or covert words. In doing so, you’re giving your child permission to talk honestly about their own body and genitals and avoid feelings of shame or discomfort. You can also use this time to explain that these parts of the body are very private and should not be touched by anyone outside of a pediatrician or someone with a specific reason to do so.
Teaching your child how to say no starts at home. Never force your child to accept hugs or unwanted physical content—even from relatives or immediate family members. Affirm that it is perfectly okay for your child to say no when a situation makes them feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
This is also a good time to share details with your child about the importance of asking for help and finding a safe adult. Remind them that no matter what someone tells them, they’ll never get in trouble for asking for help.
As you start your search for summer camps, look for camps that are accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA).
Although most states are responsible for the licensing and inspections, ACA handles training and safety standards and provides access to educational and professional development tools. ACA accreditation doesn’t guarantee a child’s safety—however, it does signify that a camp has taken significant steps to prioritize safety standards.
Before you register your child for a summer camp, consider reaching out and having a conversation with the owner or administrative director. During this time, be wary of anyone who is defensive or uncertain about the answers.
Key questions to ask:
While you can certainly take precautions to minimize your child’s risk of harm and feel confident about your decision, you can never fully eliminate the unknown. That’s why it’s so important to equip your child with the tools and resources they need so they can effectively navigate or cope with negative experiences.
We’re here to help. Reach out to us at (910) 938-0336. For additional resources and information, check out our previous post: Don’t Force the Hug.