There was a time in the ancient past when the biggest dangers of summer camp meant mosquito bites, chiggers, lots of swimming and conoeing, stupid handcrafts, mystery food and fun with friends.
It still means all that, but today’s camp counselors, who are often on the forefront of peacemaking and conflict resolution, now have to watch out for cyber-bullying. So many campers today have access to cell phones and text messaging, the issue of cyber-bullying has come to the attention of risk managers, the insurance people who stand to lose big bucks if abuse occurs to kids at summer camp.
Many summer camps are operated by churches for their youth groups. In today’s environment, camp counselors have to look beyond first aid and the usual adolescent adventure and experimentation. Now, they also have to be concerned about cyber-bullying. Unless camps totally prohibit cell phones, their campers are often able to send bullying messages for and about their fellow campers.
The threat has caught the attention of insurers who attempt to protect against this liability.
As a recent posting pointed out:
afety issues are clearly evolving at church summer camps operated on Church property, contracted out to others onsite or at distant locations. Increasingly, the physical and emotional dangers children and teens face on school grounds are traveling seamlessly to camp, aided by technology and changing patterns in group behavior among young people. Learn how you can keep the youth in your care safe.
This message is from an agency which insures the Episcopal Church. But, given the millions of dollars the Roman Catholic Church has had to divert from critical social programs simply to pay for egregious past abuse and neglect, it’s understandable that insurers of camps across the religious spectrum would voice their concern.
Serving on the front lines with youth today entails much more that it did just a few years ago. Bullying and abuse happens digitally, perhaps as much as it does in person.
Counselors and parents will benefit from reading the guidelines at this site.
Will your kids’ camp be on the alert for cyber-bullying?