Summer is almost here and most children will be out of school enjoying all types of summer activities. Some will go to camps, make a trip to visit relatives, or the entire family will take a trip to a long-planned destination. Whatever the itinerary, we all need to be diligent to keep ourselves and our children safe and out of harm’s way. Summertime should be filled with enjoyment, adventure, and relaxation whether it is with old friends, new friends, or family. In any situation, we must exercise caution and help children learn how to keep themselves safe.
In case you need reminders, here are a few tips to help you and your children have a safe and happy summer.
Summer camps: If your child is going to summer camp, be sure to check out the organization or business that is running the camp. If it is not a well-known, national entity, you may want to seek references. The Better Business Bureau or the state’s attorney’s office may have information about the organization or business that could be helpful. You want to be sure that the money you pay for your child’s experience is to a reputable company and that the services offered will in fact be delivered.
Nearly every camp hires individuals to help run programs during the summer. Ask how they screen those that are hired. To what extent are background checks conducted? What type of training does camp staff undergo prior to children arriving?
In a sleep-away camp, what safety measures exist to keep campers and staff safe from intruders or other emergencies?
Traveling: If visiting relatives or friends away from home, what are the activities that the child will be engaged in? Are other children in the area and what are their ages? One summer, two of my nieces came to visit with me and I enrolled them in the local community recreation center for their age group. The girls were thrilled to be able to walk to the center on their own, but they had to take a specific route that I walked with them. One route would have taken them along the commuter rail tracks, and I knew I wanted them to avoid any temptation or opportunity for doing something their curious minds might lead them to. So when they followed the other route to the center, I knew they had a much better chance of staying out of harm’s way.
Internet: Talk with your child about Internet activity. If there are limitations at home, those same limitations should be observed when visiting someone else’s home or at camp. Kids who bully and Internet predators do not take a holiday.
Outings: Wherever kids go they should always use a buddy system. Each one looks after the other. Most kids love going to the amusement park or to concerts during the summer. Talk with the children about staying together. Discuss what they should do if they become separated. They should plan a place to meet as soon as they arrive. For instance, even as an adult, when I go with friends to a crowded event, we pinpoint a spot where we will meet if we get separated, such as, go back to the last place where we were together or meet at the Security or Information Booth. Re-connecting with lost buddies might be easier for those with cell phones.
When I was growing up, we didn’t have the convenience of cell phones, but we did have each other to look after. My brothers and I, along with the other kids in the neighborhood, spent each and every day outside (after our chores were done, of course) and at the local park. We all had strict rules about where we could or could not go, and parents acted collectively in monitoring the safety of all the children in our neighborhood. We never strayed very far from our neighborhood and we always stayed together. The only time there was injury was running bases in softball or spraining a knuckle in tetherball. The only “crime” was our own sports injuries.Have a great summer and be safe.