Whether excluded by the popular girls or taunted for athletic shortcomings, some of you may have encountered bullying in some form during your summers at camp. Maybe you didn’t even realize it was bullying. You simply “took your lumps” and moved on. But, of course, it hurt — and many of us still remember these painful incidents.
While we hope this doesn’t define your camp years, one in four kids does experience some form of bullying during their childhood. What’s more, most bullying incidents go unreported. Camp directors have taken notice and are now doing everything in their power to eliminate these kinds of situations from the sleep away camp environment.
Directors have become increasingly aware of the damage that bullying causes and many camps have instituted “zero-tolerance” policies when it comes to bullying behavior. Additionally, camps are being pro-active in training counselors on how to diffuse situations that may evolve into bullying. Camp owners are spending thousands of dollars prior to each season to train staff on important health and safety issues, and bullying is right up there on the list.
Many camps are turning to psychologist and “bully coach,” Joel Haber, Ph.D. of www.RespectU.com in White Plains, NY. Each June he makes his rounds to dozens of sleep away camps, providing an intensive staff workshop, which includes role play, conflict resolution techniques and clear codes of what behavior is, and is not, acceptable. Some of the topics he touches upon are the differences between boy bullying and girl bullying; sports bullying; off season cyber-bullying and how to help kids who “don’t quite fit in.” Dr. Haber strongly encourages directors & staff to institute a camper reward system for positive and inclusive social behavior.
Bullying is an issue that all parents should think about. Please ask your prospective camp director what they are doing to discourage bullying. Find out how they train their staff and what their protocol is when these situations arise. Make sure there is a formal anti-bullying program in place. You can also log onto Dr. Haber’s website for more helpful tips to avoid bullying.
When it comes to protecting your children against bullies, being reactive is simply not enough.
Charity Begins with CAMP!
Our charity for the month of March is Shaloma Hadassah, a chapter of the the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, based in Woodbury, NY. Specifically, we will be donating money to their scholarship program for Young Judaea Camps. Young Judaea is built on a framework that emphasizes three core facets: peer leadership, political non-partisanship, and religious pluralism. Within this framework, their programs and activities focus on instilling members with three core values: Judaism, Zionism, and Jewish identity.
Please join us in supporting this worthwhile endeavor.