Bully-Proofing Before Summer Camp

Wednesday June 6, 2012

By Sherri M. Gordon

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I can't believe summer camp is just around the corner. I don't know about your kids, but mine are summer camp junkies. From art camp and basketball camp, to volleyball camp and karate camp, they want to do it all. But, I really don't mind if it keeps them away from the television and the video games.

For many kids, summer camp is a wonderful, life-changing experience. They develop new skills, participate in fun activities, build self-confidence and make new friends. But for other kids, summer camp is just one more place where they are taunted and teased by bullies. Fortunately, both my kids have had positive camp experiences.

So what can you do to make sure camp is a place where your child flourishes instead of flounders? Start by finding a camp that interests your child. If you try pushing your athletically challenged son into a sports camp, you are setting him up for bullying. Likewise, if you subject your tone-deaf daughter to a music camp, the results will be equally disastrous.

The goal is to choose a camp that not only sets your child up for success, but also is a fun experience. Still, selecting the right camp for your child doesn't guarantee he or she won't be bullied. But there are a few things you can do to help bully-proof your kids.

Research the camp's bullying policies. Ask questions about how bullying is handled and be sure you know how much supervision the children have. If you aren't happy with the camp's policies, don't send your child to that camp.

Send your child to camp with a friend. Having a buddy along will signal to a bully that your child is not alone. It also can help ease any anxieties or fears your child may have about camp.

Talk to your kids about different situations that could occur. Then, give them ideas on how to handle each one. Be sure they practice being firm and confident. Bullies target kids who appear insecure.

Have your children ever been bullied at summer camp? What did the camps do to address this?

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