The ultimate goal of every camp program is to succesfully provide a quality
program that is safe for kids and makes them want to return year after year.
One of the largest pieces of this ever changing puzzle that can be easily over
looked is the view that our camp parents have of our program. Last month we
asked what things have been done to meet the expectations of parents and we
received some great responses. Most commonly, it seems to be understood that
parents, first and foremost want their child to be safe and happy(for the most
part, in that order). From many of the responses that were sent in, keeping
parents informed and including them whenever possible are some ways that have
met with some success. Read on for some of the other answers that were sent
to us. Enjoy!
-One of the greatest things I find that helps parents is when they know as much as possible about me (their child's primary care giver for the next two weeks). This helps them to feel more in control and less uninformed about their child's summer camp experience. Some times I don't get an opportunity to meet the parents as they drop their kids off. So when I haven't met them, I make a point to send them a short letter or postcard during the first few days of camp. I usually just include a few details about myself (my hometown, my interests, and why I chose to be a counselor this summer.) This is a great way for my camper's parents to feel at ease and it allows us to have a connection outside of what stories my campers tell about me when they get home from camp.
-We try to eliminate any surprises and make it as easy as possible to sign up for camp.
-I usually have a chat with each parent when they drop their child off at camp. I ask them what their expectations are and if there is anything that the camp should be aware of in regards to their child. Also, I let them know that if they should have any concerns they can call the camp and talk to the Unit Leader who will then find out how there child is doing. I also try to find out exactly what the camper wants out of their experience because it is after all their summer.
-We always get this question...What do you do when it gets really hot? Now hot is a relative term but we inform the parents in our parent handbook and at the beginning of each session via a note that goes home on Mondays, what our policy is about dealing with the heat. We tell them our policy when the temp hits 95, we bring the campers inside and have activities indoors. We also tell them that at 90 degrees we plan to be outside in the morning and then gauge the campers ability to be outside the rest of the day. If we do stay outside we alter the schedule to include a lot of water play type games. We also will post weather alerts on our website.
-First I introduce myself to the parents so they can feel reassured about leaving their child with me. Also so that if they need something they can feel comfortable coming to me. Second, I make it a point to get to know each individual children's needs. For instance, Johnny is very clingy on Mondays because his parents are separated and he switches houses on Sunday nights. . So knowing your campers can help not only the parents but you as well. The third thing is plan, plan, plan! Basically plan for everything. If you have an outdoor game planned but it rains have a back up planned too even if you don't use it. Planning every minute is impossible but having a plan so there's no lull in activity is a good idea. That way there's less time for fighting and misbehaving. If the children are having fun and are excited about going back to camp every day the parents will be excited too.
-At our Parent Orientation we are informed of parent expectations. This allows
us the opportunity to be educated and document the things our parents are looking
for and then follow through with them. This may happen through weekly newsletters,
phone calls, additional staff trainings and whatever else we are able to do
to accommodate the needs of those we serve on a daily basis. We also inform
our parents of our expectation as well. This becomes a win-win situation where
ultimately the children are benefitting from the great experiences at camp.
-The parents of my campers all have a main goal by sending their children to me for the summer. They want their children to have fun and be safe. Just knowing that their children are in a safe environment is what most of my parents want. I want both the parents and the campers to have a really positive feeling when they come to me and when they leave my house each day. So, I spend from November until June preparing for the summer months. I plan and implement a curriculum that is so much fun, the campers don't even know its structured! The parents love it because it is organized.
Thanks to all who sent in responses to the BIG Question! We hope you stay involved each month. Enjoy the packet!
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