Continuing the Conversation Blog

Is Your Child's Summer Camp Safe? Three Questions You Should Ask Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Only about 4 weeks of school left! Carpool, packing lunches, and homework soon to be replaced by hot summer days, the smell of backyard barbecues, swimsuits and sunscreen.

As we count down the days, my “To Do” list grows with all the things I need to take care of before the last day of school arrives. One of those items I checked off recently was deciding about summer camp.

My kids have never gone to camp before, but this year my daughter has an opportunity to attend one with a friend. It’s only a few days long, but she will stay there overnight, many hours from home. Honestly, I’m more then a little nervous about the whole thing.

There were several things my husband and I wanted to know before we signed her up for camp and although the camp’s website helped, it did not answer all of our lingering questions.

Since joining the Rise and Shine Movement team, my awareness has been heightened regarding protecting my kids from childhood sexual abuse.

I know that youth-serving organizations, like summer camps, should have policies in place to prevent inappropriate interactions and sexual violations from occurring. So I emailed the camp and asked a few questions:

  • What kind of screening process does the camp use for its staff?
  • Do adult leaders require background checks?
  • Are referrals given and checked as part of a protocol for employment?

Their initial response was vague and unclear. I refused to blindly accept their answers. I emailed back to clarify. Thankfully, the camp’s second response was much clearer.

I wanted the camp to have a few key policies/practices in place, such as background checks, references, and camp policies, which I felt would let me know that they were making every effort to protect the children who attend.

The camp explained that background checks/clearances are done for anyone (volunteer or paid staff) 18 or older who is “responsible for the welfare of a child or has direct contact with children.” Some states require individuals who fit this description to have a clearance done (the state of Pennsylvania, for example, has mandated background checks for volunteers 18+ and paid staff 14+ by summer 2016). But sadly, these clearances, which check the National Criminal Database, National Sex Offender Registry, etc. are not enough—they only provide the names of offenders who have been reported and convicted.

And what about volunteers under 18, which make up a large portion of the camp counselors? I was pleased to hear that this camp requires volunteers to fill out an application with references, which the camp director reviews prior to their acceptance.

There is also a training done by the camp director with all volunteers/staff that includes discussions on safe practices with kids and a policy that no volunteers ever be alone, one-on-one with a child.

Screenings and trainings send a strong message to the staff — we take protecting children seriously. Those who violate children don’t want to work at camps where there are policies and safe practices. They want opportunity and easy access.

My correspondence with the camp was encouraging. I felt like they were open and honest about their policies and willing to answer all of my questions. I was thankful to learn that this camp was actively seeking to protect the kids by having these guidelines and background checks in place.

There are no guarantees something still couldn’t happen, but if the organization that is caring for my daughter has policies in place to protect campers AND staff, then they are ahead of the game.


Whether it’s a summer camp, sports organization, or daycare, all youth-serving organizations should have these types of policies in place. If you don’t know if they do or not, we encourage you to ask. And if they don’t, please share our free PDF, “Suggested Guidelines/Policies for Youth-Serving Organizations” with them. Know what’s mandated in your state. Be an advocate, not just for your own children, but for all of the kids who participate there.


Christy M. Willard is a blogger at A Heartening Life and works as Creative Director/Virtual Assistant for Rise and Shine Movement. She’s a passionate supporter and advocate for sexual abuse prevention for kids. Christy lives with her husband and two children in eastern Pennsylvania.



Share This Blog:

Would your child keep a
secret from you?


Get our FREE video:
What If? Conversation Starters 
or never miss a post!



We're moms, just like you, who want to help parents protect their kids from childhood sexual abuse.

You may also like...

"If," a Poem for Prevention
Monday, November 15, 2021

She's Already Won the Gold
Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Talking to Our Kids about Sex and Sexual Abuse. It's More Than Just the Facts.
Monday, February 22, 2021

When Your Nothing Is Everything
Thursday, April 16, 2020

Children Know the World Is...
Wednesday, March 18, 2020

“Kissing Cousins:" What Mr. Rogers and Daniel Tiger Taught About Sexual Abuse Prevention
Wednesday, February 5, 2020

So, What About Sleepovers?
Wednesday, November 6, 2019

How to Teach Our Children about Sex While We Are Still Their Heroes
Wednesday, April 24, 2019

How to Protect Our Special Needs Children from Sexual Abuse
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

What If My Child Won’t Talk to Me?
Saturday, June 23, 2018

THANK YOU for donating to Rise and Shine Movement's 5th Annual Stuffed Animal Drive
Thursday, May 24, 2018

One Essential Parenting Decision You Will Never Regret
Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Rise and Shine Movement's 5th Annual Stuffed Animal Drive
Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Processing the Larry Nassar Childhood Sexual Abuse Case
Thursday, January 25, 2018

Confident Parenting In A "Me, Too" World
Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Are You and Your Children Free To Be?
Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Three Questions Matt Lauer Should Ask His Children
Wednesday, December 13, 2017

When You Catch Your Child “Playing Doctor”
Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Blush-free Family Movie Nights
Friday, July 14, 2017

How You Can Build a Relationship with Your Son by Talking about Porn
Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Day an Innocent Search Turned Up an Image My Son Can’t Erase: 5 Tips to Keep Your Kids Safe
Thursday, April 20, 2017

How to Speak about Porn and Strengthen Your Relationship with Your Child
Thursday, April 13, 2017

How You Can Help Protect Your Son's Innocence By Talking About Pornography
Thursday, April 6, 2017

Will Your Son Know What To Do When Someone Shows Him Porn?
Friday, March 31, 2017

Do Your Children Love Our Stories?
Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Why It’s Good for Your Child to Hurt: A Lesson from a Sexual Abuse Survivor
Saturday, January 7, 2017

A New Website, A New Video -- Our gifts to you!
Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Two Fearless Questions to Ask Your Child After a Playdate
Thursday, June 23, 2016

4 Things Perpetrators Don't Want Fathers to Know
Monday, June 13, 2016

April Awareness Month Wrap Up
Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Tip Four for Protecting Your Kids from Sexual Abuse (April 2016 Sexual Abuse Awareness Campaign)
Monday, April 25, 2016

Tip Three for Protecting Your Kids from Sexual Abuse (April 2016 Sexual Abuse Awareness Campaign)
Monday, April 18, 2016

Tip Two for Protecting Your Kids from Sexual Abuse (April 2016 Sexual Abuse Awareness Campaign)
Monday, April 11, 2016

Tip One for Protecting Your Kids from Sexual Abuse (April 2016 Sexual Abuse Awareness Campaign)
Monday, April 4, 2016

2016 Stuffed Animal Drive Underway!
Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Winner Is (Our Bobby Gilliam Book Giveaway)
Monday, February 1, 2016

It's a Bobby Gilliam Book Giveaway!
Monday, January 25, 2016

Why Should I Talk To My Kids About Porn?
Friday, January 22, 2016

Prevention Strategies Around the Holidays
Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Your Best Defense Against Childhood Sexual Abuse
Friday, September 18, 2015

Could Josh Duggar Be Your Son? Four Things You Need to Know
Friday, May 22, 2015

Measuring Success for CSA Awareness
Thursday, May 21, 2015

What If Question Four
Monday, April 27, 2015

Bear Drive Huge Success in 2014
Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What If Question Three
Monday, April 20, 2015

What If Question Two
Monday, April 13, 2015

Protecting Our Kids from Sexual Abuse
Thursday, April 9, 2015

What If Question One
Monday, April 6, 2015

What If Conversation Starters
Wednesday, April 1, 2015

How Moms Can Make A Difference
Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Children Don't Tell Because They Protect
Thursday, October 16, 2014

Children Don't Tell Because They Trust
Thursday, October 2, 2014

Children Don't Tell Because They Love
Monday, September 29, 2014

When a Story and a Calling Converge
Thursday, September 25, 2014