One of the most difficult decisions for a working parent is deciding who is going to watch their child over the summer. You’ve probably toured a bunch of summer camps before deciding on the perfect one to entrust with the life of your little one. I’m sure you asked all the right questions and felt confident that the answers were truthful and that you were leaving your baby in good hands.
But what if the camp isn’t all you thought it would be? Wouldn’t you want to hear about it?
I’m a stay at home mom of four little ones, so instead of sending my kids off to summer camps, we often visit summer-camp-type locations, as a family. I’ve observed what is happening when you are not around and if it were my child, I would want someone to tell me.
I see your kids pull up in a van and all march out single-file with smiles on their faces, excitement in their eyes, and cute matching camp shirts (that my kids are extremely envious of, btw)! But then the excitement quickly fades as counselors scold children for talking or not walking fast enough. I’ve seen your kids, unattended on the playground, while counselors sit on benches in a group and chat away, and it seems like they aren’t looking in on the kids, at least as much as I would hope they would. I’ve seen 50 of your kids pile into a splash pad that has a maximum occupancy of 35, which I assume is for safety reasons. I’ve found your daughter’s camp shirt, that is supposed to help keep her safe and with the group, on the bathroom floor. I’ve seen several lost children at amusements parks and have even had to communicate to them about the importance of keeping our hands to ourselves, after they continued to push my son and his friends off of the slide and no counselors came to discipline them. I see your kids overheated, bright red, and drenched in sweat.
I’m not saying this to place blame or to ignite fear. I’m hopeful the summer camp you’ve chosen isn’t like some of the ones that I have seen this summer, but there is only one way to find out.
- Be proactive. Pop in unannounced on a field trip and watch how your child is being cared for. Make sure that the counselors are meeting all of your expectations.
- Communicate with the organization about your expectations. Do they have adequate child/adult ratio?
- Talk with your child about their day on an even deeper level. Ask them if they feel safe and cared for.
Summer Camp can be an amazing, smile-filled experience, and that’s the ultimate goal, right? Take the time upfront to communicate with summer camp leaders to ensure a safe and positive, memorable experience for your kids. And then, follow up on your expectations. And if you are a mom like me and you see something that concerns you, say something! I would want you to tell me.