Camp Counsel: Keeping Your Child's Summer Camp Experience Safe in the Digital Age


Is there a way you could know if this was happening to your child? First, it is important to understand the method by which the counselor can get access to your child and how the grooming process begins. After camp, with your child having more private time and chances for private conversations, watch her actions carefully after camp. See if her behavior changes, especially if she reduces her time with friends and family. If you are concerned that something is happening, it might be time to use monitoring tools like Mobile Watchdog, a service that allows you to read someone's smartphone chat sessions.

To minimize the chance of getting into this position in the first place, before camp or any other away-from-home experience begins, talk to your children about making wise decisions with online and real-ife friends. If they are already in the habit of talking to you about everyone in their lives, extend that conversation into their online lives. Children don't always know they are being groomed, so we need to warn them.

We also need to discriminate when selecting camps. Many camps are now carefully vetting each counselor they hire, perhaps even running background checks against state sex offender registries. Be aware that these checks are limited to the state where the counselor lives, and would-be predators could have perfect records. Ask the camp about their process for selecting counselors. Finally, do your own research about the camp. Use Google and your own network of friends and family to find information. Check out what other parenting sites are saying about the camps you are considering.

Thousands of children have a great time at camp every summer. The keys to ensuring a carefree summer for both you and your child are communication, preparation and vigilance. With these keys in place, camp can be a great and safe experience.

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Read more about Hemanshu (Hemu) Nigam here.

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