Monday, June 02, 2008

The Happy Camper - Part 2 - Lawyers

What do lawyers have to do with summer camp? These days, a LOT.

When I worked as a counselor in the mid 1980s, camps did a background check, interviewed (or already knew) the staff, required four letters of recommendation, and then assumed that the young adults they hired knew how to behave around children.

But lawsuits obviously overwhelmed the camping industry in the subsequent 20 years, meaning that there are now rules like the following:

  • There is now a "no touch" zone for a camper from the waist down to the knees. If a need arises for medical reasons, then the counselor is to send him to the nurse. If it is an urgent emergency (like, say, bleeding to death), then the counselor ideally needs another counselor nearby to witness.
  • Digital Cameras are banned for counselors. There can be exceptions made to the rule, but even with the exceptions no pictures are allowed inside of cabins or living quarters at any time for any reason.
  • One-on-One Counseling is not allowed. If a counselor needs to talk alone with a camper it has to be within sight of another counselor.
  • Under no circumstances is a counselor to be alone in a cabin or living quarters with a camper. If he finds himself in this situation he needs to leave or bring in other people as soon as possible.
  • Two counselors must be on duty during showers and the counselors may not enter the shower area (so if a kid slips, I guess he is SOL).

And so on. You can see the gist here: there needs to always be two "adults" (or 19 year old counselors) around at all times to provide witness for one another. Don't ever put yourself in a situation where it is your word against the camper's, or present any kind of scenario that would allow the Texas Department of Child Protective Services to sieze all the campers.

So it will be interesting to see what setting up an aura of paranoia will do to the counselor-camper dynamic when the campers finally arrive.

Another requirement is that counselors have to take "sexual abuse identification, prevention and reporting" training - which I have tomorrow, and will report on if it is interesting at all.

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