Troubleshooter: Parents urged to do homework on summer camps

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by Janet Roach, 13News

WVEC.com

Posted on October 17, 2013 at 2:55 PM

NORFOLK - The D'Art summer camp in downtown Norfolk has been going on for more than 20 years. Camp director Jennifer Palestrant knows how to make parents feel comfortable about their children's safety.

"It's all about having a safe child and a safe experience," says Palestrant, who says there are several questions parents should make sure are answered before signing their kids up for any camp. They include: What will they do? Who's watching them? How is the staff trained? And, how long has the camp been around? What is the policy for administering medicine? How often do you take bathroom breaks? Are criminal background checks done on staff members?

At D'Art, volunteers go through a screening process and references are checked, she says. At least two adults must be with the group of about 20 kids at all times. No adult can be alone with the children.

Palestrant also says parents shouldn’t get frustrated with the tedious paperwork camps require for enrollment, which can ask for things like health restrictions, allergies and emergency contact information.

Paperwork means camps are doing their homework, she stresses.

Barb Lito is a supervisor with Virginia Beach's Out of School Time programs and camps. The camps, which are run by the Parks and Recreation department, are licensed with Virginia Social Service.

Lito says parents should make sure camps that require a license actually have one, while some camps may be exempt

The aquatics director at Williams Farm Park's rec center, Eric Henniker, says several camps use the facility for swimming and that introduces a whole new set of regulations and training for the staff. All lifeguards have to be American Red Cross certified.

"We put them through an interview process where we check out their water skills and their CPR skills. If they're 18 or older, they'll have to go through a background check.

 

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