"This article doesn't even cover the risk of child molestion. And how it
can impact your child's life even if they have never set foot in a summer
A neighbor boy spent every summer at an all-boys camp. His mother came to
me very upset over a newspaper article. Her son's counselor was arrested
for raping several of the campers.
Within days of this conversation, my daughter caught this boy taking
pictures of my much younger son in his underwear. The boy's mother refused
to even discuss it claiming it never happened. She still sends her son to
Here is what I want every parent to know. That camp and others participate
in a program that brings camp counselors here from other countries. This
counselors was an accused child molestor in his home country but was hired
because the camp's background check only included American records. He
later plead guilty and is currently in jail.
"I find this article very disturbing, because the vast majority of
accredited summer camps are fantastic experiences. The family profiled at
the beginning of the article did not do proper research into the camp's
credentials, and a red flag, giant warning sign should have been the
volunteer counselors... Obviously, what happened was awful, but this is
not a typical camp experience. These are exceptions, not the norm, and I
am surprised at Great Schools for promoting such sensationalized material."
"After that last comment I feel the need to defend summer camps a little
bit. I went to overnight camps for years as a camper, and I have worked
for the past four years as a counselor. I don't want any parents to get
the wrong impression from the story. My weeks as camp each summer were
some of the most rewarding and memorable experiences of my life, and I
became a counselor because I wanted to help make camp a memorable
experience for other campers. What I found was that campers were not just
learning to tie knots, but also crucial social skills, responsibility, and
self-confidence. I had a camper sing a song in the camp talent show and
received an amazing boost of confidence. She was very, very nervous, and
it was obvious from the audience's perspective. At the end of her song
the entire camp gave her a standing ovation, and the hollering, clapping,
jumping, and high-pitched screaming (from my little campers) did not stop
for several minutes. She could not stop smil!
ing for the rest of the night.
As far as safety at camp, every counselor had to be CPR, AED, and First
Aid certified (and Lifeguard certified if you could swim at all). We
received almost two weeks of all-day training before camp starts to ensure
the safety of the campers in every area (from arts and crafts to horseback
riding). We were also trained in a little child psychology (so we knew
what we were up against). I worked at a camp for children with medical
needs as well, where we spent at least one day learning how to care for
specific illnesses. EVERY WEEK at camp we would also have fire drills and
different emergency drills (how we pull off search and rescue missions in
the event of a runaway camper). Yes, children will get bumps and scrapes
because it is camp and they are participating in rough activities every
day, but the vast majority of visits to the camp nurse are for calamine
Lastly, I believe the point of the author's article is to know about the
camp before you send your kids there. Not every camp is good, but camp
can be fantastic for any child. As a parent it is your job to do the
research, but you shouldn't just dismiss the idea before doing so.
PS - I am applying to be a teacher now and the 20 page application,
multiple interview process of becoming a camp counselor was FAR more
intensive than any of the applications I am completing now."
"Hm, all the better reason why to not send children to overnight camps. My
son has never been to an overnight camp and reading horror stories only
makes me glad he hasn't. Afterall there are plenty of daycamps out there
that have alot of the same activies without having to send children away
"It was my impression that the author was using the term 'death threats'
loosely. While Carol is not completely clear in her article what she and
her husband ultimately decided to do about the situation, it should be
pointed out that they DID, in fact, question whether or not this was
serious enough to consider calling the police. Assuming they didn't
(because WE don't have all the facts) doesn't mean they don't have every
right to be angered by-- and write an article about their outrage over the
clearly inappropriate behavior of an adult who should otherwise know
better. Let's give a little benefit of the doubt here-- if your child came
to you 'sobbing and trembling' and an adult that was charged with the
health and well-being of said child is brazen enough to defend their own
inappropriateness, it is reasonable cause for alarm. For the parents to
question this 'caregiver's' intention is not out of line. It could be
argued that the words 'catastrophe' and 'harrowing' in the !
title might be a little dramatic, but we have so few details. Besides, it
got you reading didn't it? And anyways, why do you care?
As far as allowing their daughter to rejoin her friends for the remainder
of the dance, the parents were right there to observe and protect. It
wasn't an act of misplaced priorities and if I were the author, I'd take
umbrage at your insinuation that my 'priorities' needed to be
're-examined.' We all have difficult jobs as parents to protect and defend
our children, the most vulnerable of our society. The parents made a
judgement call, just as we all must do when faced with parenting
challenges. Perhaps I just object to your tone. But then again, it's easy
to criticize when you're behind the anonymity of a computer. It actually
takes effort to be diplomatic and well-spoken.
The only minor point I might bring up to the author is more about
semantics. She said, '[their] only real power was the ability to comfort
[their] daughter.' Of course there are certainly other 'powers' available
to you... police, legal action, boycotting, ...writing an article on
GreatSchools.org... but then I'm assuming that you're not hanging your hat
on this one statement.
As a side note, I went to a Christian camp in PA as a child and was also a
counselor-in-training at the ripe old age of 16. I recently marveled with
an old camp friend that our parents allowed us to go away on these trips.
While I didn't personally witness sex or drugs, I did witness children
playing the 'fainting' game and the annual sneaking into the snack barn at
night only to be set up by the counselors to be scared silly by a REAL
chainsaw (we all scattered-- running over 1/2 mile back through the open
field, in utter darkness). As a counselor, I had no CPR or First Aid
training. It simply required 4 weeks of 'in training' counseling during
one summer where we basically just provided free labor."
"If there was so much anger and outrage over the cabin mom's poor choice of
words, why didn't you just take your daughter and leave, or better yet
CALL THE POLICE if she threatened her. You state that your daughter
overheard her cabin mom speaking to another counselor. So how did she
threaten your child? If she was really going to 'kill your child', she
would not have admitted saying what she said. Come on, there was no 'death
threat'. Granted, the camp should have had some guidelines regarding
language used at the facility, especially when that language can be
overheard by children; schools and daycares do. Were there any instances
of abuse alleged against that cabin mom by your child or others? On the
other hand, you say that, 'once Tallulah saw we took the situation
seriously, she begged to return to the dance and her new friends' and you
let her?? So just because she saw you go off on the cabin mom, that made
it ok for her to return to the dance? What about the importance!
of her 'safety'?? If this woman was the threat that she was portrayed to
be, why wasn't the police called??? The fact is, everyone will not feel
the way we feel about our children whether they have them or not. The
cabin mother was wrong to use those words. Priorities need to be
re-examined here: the camp counselor who was more worried about the money
the cabin mom could give than your child's fear, and the desire to see
your daughter have fun dancing with her new friends than her 'safety' over
a 'death threat'. And yes, I speak as a mother of a child who attended
camp away, so I know of what I speak."