Camp Policies Regarding the Internet and Other Technologies
We have always taken the safety and well-being of our campers—your children—very seriously. After all, giving your children over to the care of other people is perhaps the greatest act of trust a parent can engage in. We aim to do everything we humanly can to earn and keep that trust. We also know we cannot do this without your help. With more and more children using the Internet, cell phones, and other technologies at younger ages, we appeal to you as parents to partner with us to ensure that your children continue to have the safest, most wholesome experience as possible at camp .
Please read our letter carefully. It will help you understand the challenges some technologies pose to the health and safety of our camp community. Please also review and then read to your child the enclosed policies regarding the Internet, social networking sites, and exchanging contact information with their counselors. As always, we invite you to call us if you have any questions or concerns about any of these issues.
As you know, we have a “no cell phone” policy at camp. Aside from the fact that cell phones are expensive and can get lost or stolen and that the physical camp environment is not kind to such items, there is a fundamental problem with campers having cell phones at camp, and that is trust. When children come to camp, they—and you—are taking a leap of faith, temporarily transferring their primary care from you as their parents to us and their counselors. This is one of the growth-producing, yet challenging, aspects of camp. As children learn to trust other caring adults, they grow and learn, little by little, to solve some of their own challenges. We believe this emerging independence is one of the greatest benefits of camp. It is one important way your child develops greater resilience. Contacting you by phone essentially means they have not made this transition. It prevents us from getting to problems that may arise and addressing them quickly. Sending a cell phone to camp is like saying to your child that you as the parent haven’t truly come to peace with the notion of them being away from you and in our care.
We agree to tell you if your child is experiencing a challenge in their adjustment to camp. You can help by talking with you child before they leave for camp and telling them that there is always someone they can reach out to, whether it be their counselor, the Director, the Assistant Director, or a trusted Nature Center Educator . We are all here to help, but if you don’t trust us, your children certainly won’t!
Another drawback of having cell phones at camp is that many of them have built-in cameras. At some
camps around the country, children have secretly taken photographs of other campers or staff during
changing or showering times and later uploaded those images to the Internet. (If you belong to a health
club, chances are it has “no cell phone” policy.) To lessen the possibility of this happening, we have decided to ban all digital cameras and suggest that, if your child wants pictures from camp, they bring a disposable film camera. We take photographs during the summer, available for viewing in our Friday Family Fest Slide Show. Please help us maintain a safe environment by explaining this to your child. You should know that any camper that takes a compromising photograph of another camper or staff member and uploads it to the Internet or makes it public in any way may be subject to dismissal from camp or may not be allowed to return. If the law is broken, the appropriate authorities will be notified.
Cyber-Bullying and Harassment
At some camps around the country, a few campers have sent rude, demeaning, intimidating, or vulgar e-mails or IMs to other campers or have created false screen names to harass members of the camp community or spread false and damaging information about them. To be sure, most Internet communication is fun, positive, and an important way campers stay in touch with their friends. Our “Policy for Campers,” which we are asking you to read over and then read with your child, covers
our response to this problem. In addition, we have outlined the steps you or your child should take should they receive an abusive, demeaning, threatening or inappropriate Internet communication. Being familiar with these steps is part of the overall safety and healthy practice you should have in place with your child if they are on-line, regardless of whether they attend camp or not. Sharing these steps with you is one way we felt we could support your effort to protect your children.
Your Kids, Our Staff after Camp
Our pledge is to put your children in the company trustworthy and capable young adults —counselors who are well suited to the task of leading campers. The effort we put into screening and selecting our staff is part of that pledge. Our staff works with your children in the context of a visible, well-scrutinized environment that has many built-in checks and balances. Counselors are supervised by senior staff guided by clear, firm policies regarding behavior. Their actions are also visible to co-workers and campers. As a policy we can not recommend them as baby-sitters, nannies, or child companions outside of camp. In general, we discourage our staff from having contact with your children after camp. We hire our staff for the camp season. We do not take responsibility for their behavior offseason. As a parent you are, of course, free to make your own choice in this matter. While we cannot keep you from allowing your child to visit with one of our staff members, in so doing you take full responsibility. We also know that many children exchange contact information (e.g., e-mail address, profile names, cell phone numbers) with counselors without our or your specific awareness or permission.
We recommend that you, as the parent, supervise your child’s on-line activities just as you do other aspects of their life in your home and oversee any off-season contact between our staff members and your child. You take full responsibility to oversee any off-season contact.
Working Together to Keep Your Children Safe
We see many positive, exciting ways for youngsters to enjoy the benefits of the Internet and other technologies. As advocates for children, we want to work with you to keep those experiences safe, healthy, and positive. That is why we have taken the time to write these policies, collect resources, and urge you to talk with your children—both about camp and their online activity in general. Keep watching our our Parent Page where we will recommend nature activities and other resources that you may find useful.
Thank you for entrusting your most precious treasures -your children- into our care. We look forward to spending time connecting your children to the natural world.
Experiential Education Director