Posts Tagged ‘Camper Care’

Webinar – Managing challenging camper behavior

Posted on April 8, 2016 by Mike Stewart

The International Camping Fellowship is happy to announce a special opportunity, made possible by Markel Insurance and the Educational Alliance between ICF and the American Camp Association, for a free webinar with Bob Ditter on Tuesday, April 19, 1:00 p.m. EST, and you are invited!  The webinar will be presented in English.

Managing Challenging Camper Behavior

Learn new ways to work with challenging camper behavior. This highly practical webinar will provide you with simple and effective ways to work with children who struggle making the adjustment to camp life.

In this webinar you will learn:

  • Identify possible challenging camper behaviors BEFORE camp.
  • When to put a camper “on an agreement” prior to camp.
  • Critical knowledge for working with ADHD campers, including medication guidelines.
  • Techniques for working with campers who are impulsive, disorganized or resist counselors’ guidance.
  • Techniques for working with girls struggling to form a cohesive group.

The “prognostic indicators” that guide your decision about continuing to work with a camper versus sending them home.

Bob Ditter is a highly-recognized child, adolescent, and family therapist from Boston, Massachusetts, USA. He is a nationally recognized trainer and consultant for organizations that work with young people. He has been called “camping’s most articulate spokesman” because of his work with children’s summer camps since 1982.

Limited registration is now open to ICF members! To reserve your space, click hereSelect ‘Register’ in event status.

ICF extends a big thank you to Markel Insurance for offering this special opportunity to you, and we hope many of you will register!  This is time sensitive!  Register now!

Bullying Redux

Posted on April 26, 2015 by Dr. Christopher Thurber

In 1929, Camping and Character: A Camp Experiment in Character Education was published.

Authors Hedley Dimock and Charles Hendry reported on the results of a multiyear study conducted at Camp Ahmek in Ontario. The study sought to uncover the changes evidenced in campers’ behaviour during six weeks at camp, and to understand the mechanisms behind those changes. Among the more than 50 behaviors the authors tracked was bullying. Dimock and Hendry recognized that even small increases in bullying behavior needed to be addressed by the camp leadership. They were also encouraged by huge increases in many prosocial behaviors in youngsters. My favourite is: “Making friendly approach to [an] unlikable boy.”

Over 80 years later, what are the most important things we’ve learned about bullying? The answer has four parts. First, bullying itself is only half the picture. For every bully, there is at least one target. Second, bullying is cyclic. A recent study by the Center for Disease Control confirmed that about three quarters of bullies are also targets and about three quarters of targets turn around to bully another child. Third, bullying is social. Antisocial, to be sure, but it represents a dynamic, complex, interaction whose origins lie in unhealthy relationships. Therefore, the solutions lie not in simple punishment, but in the formation of healthy relationships. And finally, there are often bystanders; onlookers who have the power to say something. “Hey, that’s not cool” or “Dude” or “Lay off” or “C’mon” are examples of benign-sounding comments that have the power to derail nascent bullying.

Camps are uniquely suited to deal with bullying because they are such healthy social environments. At camp, leaders supervise children and have opportunities to educate bullies and targets. Leaders can teach the kinds of prosocial behaviors Dimock, Hendry, and their pioneering predecessors saw so often at camps. This is easier to do than most people think, partly because bullying is so often a misguided attempt to make a social connection. If you can teach a bully how to make a social connection without using coercion, threats, or violence, you have actually met that child’s needs instead of simply punishing his or her misbehavior.

Specifically, camps help children in the following ways:

  • By having the camp staff set a sterling interpersonal example for all children to follow.
  • By seeing beyond the bully alone and including his or her target, plus any bystanders, in an intervention.
  • By strengthening bullies’ fragile sense of themselves by providing opportunities for authentic achievement and human connection in various athletic or artistic domains.
  • By teaching bullies to make social connections through healthy interaction. We all want to belong to a group…it’s just the bullies go about it in antisocial ways.
  • By teaching targets to stand up to bullies in ways that makes bullying unrewarding.
  • By setting, early and often in the camp session, strict guidelines for kindness and generosity…and then heaping on the praise when staff witness prosocial behaviours.
  • By providing the kind of close supervision that allows both bullies and targets to replay unacceptable or unassertive interactions under the guidance of experienced adult staff.
  • By deliberately creating a culture of caring that is perhaps different from school or the neighborhood at home…and then immersing children in that culture.
  • By allowing positive peer pressure to exert itself such that children feel appreciated and rewarded for gentleness, honesty, kindness, and unselfishness.

Camps are not a bullying panacea. Outside of camp, there are powerful forces, such as violent media, that infuse children with the notion that violent, even lethal solutions to vexing social problems are both effective and glorious. Nevertheless, camp is a powerful, positive force for change. Educating bullies, targets, and bystanders is just one of the many ways camp enriches lives and changes the world.

So next time you’re talking with a parent about how your camp handles bullying, provide a better answer than “We don’t tolerate bullying.” Instead, explain how your staff is trained to help children make friends. That is the single best way to prevent antisocial behaviour. Give everyone a sense of belonging.

Then, explain how you use a combination of pre-season online training and in-person on-site training to train your staff to spot bullying, teach prosocial behaviors, encourage bystanders to be “upstanders,” and give opportunities for bullies to make amends. There will always be some kinds of egregious misbehaviors that require expulsion from camp, but most instances of bullying are below this safety threshold. Showcase the strength of your camp by outlining how well prepared your staff is to prevent bullying and respond thoughtfully when it occurs.

This article originally appeared in the Week-Ender blog, a product of Camp Business magazine. To subscribe to this content, visit

Vital “Bites” of Information for Camp Health Care Staff

Posted on July 12, 2013 by Mary Casey

A Short Quiz about the Management of Sun and Heat

  • Do activities at your camp take place in the shade whenever possible?
  • Has sunburn been identified as a preventable injury?
  • During ‘high heat days’ are activities adjusted to lower the level of exertion?
  • Are campers and staff kept well hydrated (a drink every hour)?

The following practices are suggested:

  • Carry out a shade audit of the camp – urge use during high heat days.
  • Apply sunscreen generously.
  • Wear UV-rated sunglasses.
  • Wear a hat and cool, loose, protective clothing to cover arms and legs.
  • Use caution near water, sand (reflection).
  • Seek shade from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.
  • Burns are not acceptable.

Infection Control

Camps are often classified as ‘high-risk’ for outbreaks of communicable illnesses. One way to mitigate this possibility is to assure that everyone on site (including the nurse) has the required immunization.

The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends the following for children and youth (2013):

  • 5-in-1 vaccine –diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio,
  • Hib disease.
  • dTap – youth without 5-in-1
  • Chickenpox vaccine
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • HPV vaccine for girls, now suggested for boys
  • MMR vaccine – measles, mumps, rubella
  • Meningococcal vaccine
  • Pneumococcal vaccine
  • Rotavirus vaccine
  • Influenza vaccine – annually

Signs of a Communicable Illness

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feel feverish, chills in last 24 hours
  • Gastro-intestinal symptoms
  • Rash
  • Contact with an ill person in last week
  • Recent international travel.
  • If the body temperature is normal, the immunization report is complete, and there are no symptoms of illness, you can be fairly sure there is no one on site with a communicable illness.


1. A sunburn should be reported as an incident.
2. There should be no eating while campers are being transported on a bus as severe choking or an allergic reaction may not be noted and treatment would be difficult.

Is Your Camp Ready for a Crisis?

The nurse should know the contents of the camp’s Crisis Management Plan. If there is no written CMP, the nurse should assemble some information to manage health needs during a crisis.

Getting a MASTERS in Crisis Management

  • Mobilize the Crisis Team to crisis headquarters.
  • Analyse the known facts. Insure the safety of team members. Other staff and campers move to another part of the site.
  • Stabilize the situation; contact EMS, the Public Health Unit, camp physician, other.
  • Treat the victim(s) or care for the ill and move to isolation area.
  • Emergency measures personnel take over once on site. Camp staff yields to competent authorities.
  • Relay information to staff members, campers, board members, parents.

More About Asthma at Camp

The goal is to help children with asthma control their asthma so that they can be active all day and sleep all night. (NAEPP USA.2007). Despite the many changes at camp, we try to maintain normal activities for those with asthma. Asthma does not take a day off; children should stay on their medications even when they feel well.

Common asthma triggers in the summer:

  • Mould – in tents, cabins, the woods.
  • Pollens – different plants pollinate at different times, (Ragweed- late summer).
  • Smog – even in cottage country; higher spring to fall, on dry, sunny and windy days.
  • Exercise – warm up before and cool down after.
  • Dust – lots in rustic settings.
  • Campfire – aroma of burning wood (toxins in the air).

The nurse needs:

  • An up-to-date, written Action Plan for each camper with triggers and treatment.
  • A basic understanding of the action of asthma medications.
  • There must be enough asthma medication to last long after the entire summer camp.

Note: the NAEPP discourages the use of home remedies in an acute asthma exacerbation, such as:

  • breathing warm, moist air,
  • drinking large volumes of liquids,
  • the use of antihistamines; there is no valid evidence that demonstrates their effectiveness. (Their use will delay campers from obtaining necessary care)

Food Service Summer Guidelines

Special care in the kitchen can avoid food-borne illness. The nurse’s observations of policies and procedures may identify poor practices.

  • Clean hands, work surfaces, and equipment,
  • Perishable food refrigerated – never left out except during meals,
  • Monitor dates on leftovers – never used after 3 days,
  • In hot weather, the food in a well-packed, insulated cooler with ice is not safe to use after about 3 hours

Review and follow the standard Six-Step Hand Washing:

1. Cleansing solution: bleach 1 tsp (5ml) and water 3 cups (750 ml).

2. Wet hands under warm running water,

3. Apply liquid soap, rub to soapy lather on front and back of hands (antibiotic soap not required), rub lather in for at least 15 seconds,

4. Rinse thoroughly under running water,

5. Pat hands dry with paper towel,

6. Use paper towel to turn tap off then dispose of towel in proper receptacle.