What We Do To Prevent Sexual Abuse at Camp
Dear Camp Families:
Last year (December 2018), CBS This Morning ran a report on cases of sexual abuse that took place at camps across the United States over the past 20 years. The story ends with the featured mother stating that she still sends her children to sleepaway camp, she just makes sure to do research to check that the camp is doing the right things to prevent sexual abuse of children.
At Camp Lincoln and Camp Lake Hubert, we want to make sure that our Camp Families are aware of the extensive process and procedures we have in place to hire and screen our staff and keep our campers safe.
Both camps are accredited members of the American Camp Association. This Accreditation focuses on the health and safety of campers and staff. ACA accreditation means that we voluntarily undergo a thorough peer review of our operation — from staff qualifications and training to emergency management. The American Camp Association collaborates with experts from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Red Cross, and other youth-serving agencies to assure that current practices at our camps reflect the most up-to-date, research-based standards in camp operation. The standards include numerous requirements designed to help prevent physical and sexual abuse of campers. We value the process and work to continue our tradition of excellence. Below are some of the policies and procedures we employ that meet and exceed the ACA standards.
Before staff are hired:
Our staff screening process begins with an application which includes reference requests and job histories. Interviews are typically over an hour long, with questions designed to draw out potential warning signs and tendencies. Post interviews, references are checked. References are to be academic, coaches, church leaders, or employment-related.
We partner with third-party background check companies. These companies perform national, state, and county record checks for each location a candidate has lived. The checks also include the National Sex Offender Database. Background checks are run each year on all staff, including returning and year-around staff.
Once staff start working for the season:
Beyond being diligent in the vetting of staff and counselors during the hiring process, we do take additional measures throughout the summer. Our ten-day training includes sessions dedicated to abuse prevention. Counselors are taught to never be alone with a camper, including strategies to prevent one-on-one situations. All staff are re-trained and evaluated throughout the summer.
On the first night of camp, campers meet their counselor and the rest of the cabin staff, consisting of 4-6 team members. During this meeting, it is communicated to each camper that they may go to any of the staff members in the cabin if they have any concerns. Members of the Leadership Team also let the campers know they may come to talk with them at any time. Twice a session, campers complete feedback forms without counselors in the room with them.
After concluding their employment:
We remind staff how being ‘alone’ with a child may also apply to connecting online. We ask our staff, for everyone’s protection, not to make online connections with campers without the permission of the parents.
This is an uncomfortable topic but an important aspect of our safety protocol. Our response and policies are always in a state of review and improvement. We appreciate the trust our parents place in us and are proud to partner with you in the raising and developing of your children.