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Concerned About Your Child's New Summer Coach/Camp Counselor? Trust Your Instincts and Do Your Research


By Rachel Flanagan

With summer break comes a burst of new activities for families, including summer camp for kids, plus a plethora of sports and academic opportunities. That means you and your children meeting and interacting with new counselors, coaches, tutors and others.

There are more than 12,000 camps in the U.S. today, according to the American Camp Association. How do you know your child will be in the good hands of reputable people throughout the summer? How can you know if they're really who they've represented themselves to be? Are there red flags to watch for?

When it comes to selecting family- and kids-focused activities, from day camps to swim meets, finding the right provider that takes the appropriate precautions to ensure children's' safety can seem overwhelming. Are you confident that you know everything you need to know about who will be watching, teaching, coaching, playing with and mentoring your kids this summer?

Remember that it's well within your right as a potential customer to inquire whether an organization like a summer school, camp or day care runs background checks on their employees. If they don't, or don't have policies around requiring checks, it could be a potential red flag.

Simple steps for safety 

Parents can take some simple steps to keep their children safe.

  • Be aware and trust your gut. Don't hesitate to raise questions and ask for background checks and extra training where needed.
  • Do your research.¬†
    • Selecting the right summer camp, for example, for your child will require some work. Parents who examine all of the factors that contribute to a summer camp's safety put themselves in the best possible position to avoid unsafe situations with a camp that doesn't take the proper precautions to protect their child.
    • Consider a camp that is accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA). The main purpose of the ACA-accreditation program is to educate camp owners and directors in the administration of key aspects of camp operation, particularly those related to program quality and the health and safety of campers and staff. The standards establish guidelines for needed policies, procedures, and practices.
    • Inquire about the ratio of camp staff to children. These can vary based on the age of the campers and whether the facility is a day camp or an overnight camp. Similarly, educating yourself about the way that camps supervise the children - particularly for off-site field trips or nighttime activities - is critical.
    • Resources like Whitepages can also help with tools like online and mobile tools like SmartCheck that can provide valuable information that's publically available, including criminal record searches, background checks, property details and other information.

Ultimately, having access to credible, trusted information can help keep alleviate any concerns you might have about new summer service providers, and keep your attention focused on what matters: Enjoying a fun summer with your kids!

Rachel Flanagan manages corporate branding and recruiting at Whitepages, an identity verification provider and people search engine.