Sending My Daughter to Sleep-Away Camp

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by Jenny, Colorado Mom

I feel somewhat inadequate, feeling that I need to be even braver, particularly in light of the recent posts from Feather reminding us that despite all of the teaching of body rules to our kids, ultimately adults are responsible for keeping their kids off limits by having the conversations with those adults. I have been realizing that much of my work has been focused on educating other parents, and talking with and listening to my kids (and censoring the wrong messages; it’s so tempting to say: “be a good boy”, “if you don’t do this for me you’ll hurt my feelings” That last one is a toughie for me, but that’s a subject for another time.)

But here’s an example where I have talked to another adult to make sure they’re on our team:

Two summers ago, I was interested in sending my daughter was to a week-long sleep away camp for the first time. Prior to registering her for the camp, I contacted the camp director by email with a list of questions. Two of those questions were about program activities that were described in the brochure, but I added a third question to the list:

“Please tell me about the special training that camp staff, guides and leaders receive in body-safety rules to maintain sexual safety at the camp.”

Simple as that. The director responded with their background check policies, staff training, and a confident response that staff is accountable for the safety of the children.

That provided an opening for me to be more explicit:

“I’m glad you have a training program. Let me clarify my concerns. We teach and practice safety rules at home so that our kids are empowered to protect themselves as well. In particular, they know that they are the boss of their own bodies, no one gets to touch or see any part of themselves if they don’t want, secrets are not safe, privacy is always allowed, and if they know that a safety rule is being broken they have to tell. I also want any caregiver to understand that we will believe our children if they tell us that a body safety rule has been broken. Is your Child Abuse Prevention training consistent with ours?”

To which she responded with more detail and a confirmation that we shared the same rules. And I welcomed her to my team.

I couldn’t have done this without the support that Feather gives in her seminars, newsletters, and social media. Feather makes the language simple and clear and encourages us to use it verbatim if that makes it easier. And it does! I’m not reinventing the wheel here, and that is okay.

As many of the other guest bloggers have said, each time we have this conversation it gets easier. It’s true!

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