Always be supervising! Proper supervision of your campers is of the utmost importance to ensure the safety of your participants and should be taken very seriously. Regardless of if you are coordinating an activity, on a trip or even just have downtime, your counselors need to make sure they never let their guard down. It only takes a few seconds of complacency for an incident or accident to occur. Here are 10 tips to make sure your counselors are displaying great supervision:
1. Never have your back to the kids. Always position yourself so you are facing the kids and can see as many as possible.
2. When multiple counselors are supervising a group of kids, spread out as much as possible to see as much of the space as possible. Counselors should not be standing or sitting in the same space together during that time.
3. When walking kids in a line, counselors should be on the side or back of the line to be able to see all the kids. Place a more responsible camper to be your line leader. Counselors who are leading their line will have their backs to the kids and not be able to see them effectively.
4. Roam areas when possible. You can’t see everything standing in one area so roaming will give you better angles of your area of supervision and make your presence felt by the campers.
5. Interact with the kids as much as possible. Counselors should be active most of the day, other than lunchtime, breaks, etc. Inactivity while supervising will generally make the staff member less alert and diligent in supervising that area or activity.
6. Never let a camper go anywhere on their own that is out of the supervisor’s line of sight. Walk younger campers and use the buddy system with older, more responsible campers.
7. Sit with the campers during meals. Sitting at a counselors table or all gathering in one area during meals is ineffective supervision and will give the kids the green light to mess around, especially when they start to finish eating.
8. Stay alert, even during downtime like a movie or waiting on a bus. Even though this is a time for the kids to relax and wind down, counselors should not.
9. Be extra alert and participate when water is involved. All counselors should be in the water with the kids, even when lifeguards are on duty. If not, at the very least they should be on the banks. Water activities are when we have to always be on high alert. Sitting off to the side in the shade and laying out on the side of the pool is unacceptable. Never try to swim somewhere without certified lifeguards.
10. Survey the area for any liabilities or hazards and make sure you have proper child-to-adult ratios before allowing kids in any area. Once you are in a play area continue to ensure that area stays safe.
It is important that camp counselors are trained on different supervision techniques and monitored throughout camp to ensure they are compliant. Take supervision seriously and you will have a safe and incident-free camp!
Jason Schaitz, MBA, CPRE, is a parks and recreation director in the state of Florida with 15 years of experience managing youth sports, camps and recreation programs. He also created and manages League Source and The Summer Camp Source with the goal of providing free high-quality resources for any type of youth sports or camp program. Take your leagues and camps to the next level by visiting our websites for free resources and education!