Summer Camp: good or dangerous?

April - posted on 08/03/2011 ( 8 moms have responded )

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I remember going when I was a kid. I absolutely loved it. It was in a park, but we also went bowling, swimming, and we saw plays. It was an experience I will never forget.

However, my sister and I did escape one day and none of the counselors realized we left on our own. They were very shocked when my mom arrived with the two of us in tow, shouting at them! I don't think we ever went back.

We were lucky nothing happened to us. Lately in the news around my area, some children have not been so lucky. One child was taken by a counselor. Another was walking to camp and was taken from a stranger.
I was also remembering that even though we had a blast at camp and we loved our counselors, they really didn't pay that close attention to us kids. We pretty much had free rein of the playground. Even in plain sight, it wouldn't have been hard to imagine a stranger taking a child.

Anyway...in 2011, is summer camp really safe? Is there a lot to worry about you're thinking of signing up your kids?

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Johnny - posted on 08/04/2011

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I started going away to camp when I was 7. My parents sent me to a 4 day "Spring Break Camp" to test it out. The first thing I said when I got off the bus was, "can I go back for the summer? Can I? Can I?" I spent at least 2 weeks if not a month at camp every summer until I was 14. Then I spent the whole summer there as a leadership trainee until I got hired as a counselor when I was 17. I did that until I was 20. I loved camp. Some of my closest life long friends are from there. The memories are some of the best of my life. It was beautiful, so much fun, I learned a lot about myself, how to look after myself, and how to persevere. As an only child, my parents were a bit coddling, and summer camp gave me that chance to learn things for myself. I think it is one of the best gifts my parents gave me growing up.

I do know that it is not for every kid. Some will love it and some will not. It's really a reflection of their personalities. I would say, working as a counselor I found that about 1 in every 5 kids hated it. 2 would love it and come back every year from then on. And the remaining 2 would be rather ambivalent. It's good to try it out, but I would never suggest pushing it on a kid.

I will give my daughter the chance to go for sure. If she does not want to, I won't force the issue but I will tell her she can if she ever changes her mind. If she goes and hates it, then we can find something else to do the next year.

As for it being dangerous, yep, perhaps. No more than any other activity though. I would not have any hesitation sending my kids to the camp I went to as a kid nor the two others that I have worked at. In our province, there is a camp association that monitors them and sets standards. I would not send them to a camp that was not a member of that organization. Over many years, I can not recall hearing of very many incidents involving kids at summer camp.

Well, there was the year that my leadership group got stuck in a forest fire... but we were all 16.

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I went to week long camps as a middle schooler and I LOVED it. I went to a church camp (all three summers - same camp and almost the exact same staff) and it was great :)



When I was 18 I was asked to be a counselor at the same camp (with the same director! lol - he also performed our wedding ceremony between my second and third years as counselor) and I did it for 4 years. I absolutely LOVED being a counselor and it was one of the most wonderful experiences I have ever had. I haven't been able to do it recently because the week it's on is bad for us (it's the same week as our daughter's first week of school - our school district is on a year-round schedule, so school starts mid-July).



Our daughter would be going to the elementary school version of the camp I went to and counseled for (I am actually really good friends with the director of the elementary aged camp), but it's the same week (and same location) and the middle school camp, so our daughter is in school and can't go :(

Jenn - posted on 08/04/2011

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It absolutely depends on the type of camp and the number of counselors assigned to however many kids are in the group. Also, I look into the camp's previous track record with kids. If there's EVER been a death (due to heat, accident, ect) then they are ruled out immediately. Same if there's ever been any type of investigation for sexual misconduct. OUT.

My 4 year old goes to a half-day nature camp and there are 3 teachers to 6 children. My oldest went to a full-day Christian camp this year. I chose it because of its stellar reputation and the recommendation of other PARENTS. That is always important.
As for safety, parents got to persue the entire site and see the safety features, water misters for cooling off and water stations to rehydrate throughout the day. VERY important where I live.

I don't ever plan to send my children to overnight camp. I may change my mind in later years but that will depend on my children and the camp they show interest in.

I did not LIKE camp as a kid. But I wouldn't want to keep my kids from experiencing it because they could (and do) love it. Should they ever decide they don't like camp any longer, they can of course opt out. Camp should be fun and if it isn't then why bother.

Amie - posted on 08/04/2011

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I think it depends on the type of camp. The one in the OP is a day camp setting, kind of like day care. There are a lot of options in the city for ours to go to. The university runs a few different ones, as does the city.

My kids go away to camp. Well, only our oldest atm, she's a Navy cadet and goes away with them. I know all the adults and the ones I don't know (there's a few squadrons that go at a time) I trust our adults to take care of our kids. Our oldest just got back from camp last week. She had a blast, she learned new skills and had fun.

We know people who use the day camps, they've never had a complaint. Depending on the one you choose, your kids could learn a lot during their time. The university ones are interesting. I don't think there's an issue of safety. Ours also have attendance records and limited spots (to make sure there are not too many kids and too few adults).

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We don't have 'summer camps', but our church does quite a few camps throughout the year depending on your age (3-5 grade only have one during the summer, middle school and high school have others). This was the first year the girls went. The camps are kind of crazy, but the kids all have a lot of fun and there aren't usually any serious injuries. ;)

Merry - posted on 08/04/2011

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I never went away to a camp for more then two nights and that was with our church group and we went to a Christian campground. Not that Christians can't be horrible people in disguise but it was a pretty safe environment. And the campground was all fenced in, it was massive, but the borders were fenced in.
Well I also did a fee wilderness trips in high school. These were a week or so long, we were in small groups, like 10 kids and three adults. We hiked camped in tents etc. It was fairly safe but my husband, then boyfriend, got altitude sickness while climbing a mountain and passed out! That was scary but he was ok when he got off the mountain.

My sister and want to pay for our little brother to toto a summer camp next summer, it will be at the same Christian camp we went to with church but he will stay for two weeks. I think it's great for him because judas and his wife are really crummy parents and Matthew could benefit from some decent adult role models.
As for my kids, idk,erics only two so i can't imagine letting him go away.
Right now I'd have to say no they wont go to any camps away from home until atleast highschool age.
But time will tell. :)
My family went camping every summer, we went to a Jo school family camp together, we went to six flags great America every year, and some summers wewouldgo to Wisconsin dells. We did alot of fun stuff and we were always happy and active in summer but most everything we did it was as a family.

Isobel - posted on 08/04/2011

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my daughter just got back from a month at summer camp in Algonquin Park...she cried when she had to leave and wants to go for longer next year (ummm...no, I think a month is plenty). My son will start with two weeks next summer.

I wasn't huge on sending them as I never went myself but my husband(ish guy) went every year of his life and then worked as a canoe guide when he got older so he absolutely insisted that they go.

Eve has so far learned to stern a canoe, skipper a sailboat, shoot a bow and arrow, start a fire...and so many other things that I could never have taught her so I'm glad she goes.

and yes...the two week break was lovely. A month was a little long and I missed her like crazy by the time she got home.

Ashley - posted on 08/04/2011

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I went away to cam for a week and HATED it lol.... so I don't think I will ever send my kids lol I would rather take them camping... as for day camps I as can't really see myself sending my kids there personally its because I don't trust alot of people and would rather spend the time with my kids ... but some people may think its a nice break so i guess its each to their own right :)

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