You might be wondering about how much you’re allowed to touch the children – that sounds odd, but we both know what I mean. Are you allowed to hug them? Be on your own with them?
On my first day at summer camp the camp director said to us to “never touch a child where a swimsuit does”. He also said to remember that every child is different – some might want hugs all the time, others not at all. You do need to be careful about how much contact you have with the kids, but it will also come naturally when you get to know them.
If ever you’re in any doubt, talk to your head counselor.
Hugs and kisses
In my two years at summer camp I never kissed a child. I don’t really think there’s any need for this as the kids are 7+, but your camp and kids might be different.
The kids hugged me all the time. I did feel a little weird at first, but the kids are really affectionate and will want to show their love for you through hugs. I would never initiate it though, unless they were upset and even then I would just start with a pat on the back.
If they do hug you, don’t throw yourself into the hug pressing your body against theirs. That’s just weird.
If hugs go weird
Thankfully this never happened to me, but if a child touches you a bit strangely or gets too close, or even demands too many hugs and makes you feel uncomfortable you should speak to a head counselor straight away.
It is America – you need to cover your back.
One on one time
At camp it was very rare I’d be left alone with a child, and I didn’t encourage it. During my first year as a camp counselor there would often be only one child turn up to my radio class so I always made sure the door was open.
Sometimes when I’d go back for my hour off there’d be a child in the bunk and I just had to get them out. I didn’t want to be left alone with them.
To be honest it’s not something I thought about a lot. If they hugged, I did it back, and never had a problem.
Yes, if you’re 18 they do seem like the same age as you, but they’re not. If you ‘do’ anything with these children you’ll be in big trouble – it happens, you can read about it in my book, but if you get caught you’ll get your balls chopped off. Or worse.
Under US law, anyone under the age of 18 years is a child. Any sexual relations with a person under the age of 18 is statutory rape.
You should be prepared for if a child does come onto you. You know that when you’re a teenager your feelings can get messy and if you get on particularly well with a child they can easily get confused as to why you’re being kind. Either discuss it with them gently, or go to a head counselor. Personally I’d get a head counselor involved, but outline the situation clearly and don’t get the child into trouble or blow it up into more than it should be. The head counselor will have dealt with this before and they’ll know what to do.
Don’t let any physical action get misunderstood by campers, their friends, other counselors or the bosses – and just avoid any uncomfortable situations and you’ll be fine.