October 17, 2023
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel
Texas Approves Training to Protect Campers and Staff from Child Sexual Abuse
Center for Child Counseling’s CampSafe® training approved by Texas Department of State Health Services
Every year, about 26 million children attend roughly 15,000 day and overnight summer camps across the United States. In the past 25 years, more than 575 cases of child sexual abuse have been reported at camps in North America. Unfortunately, given 86% of abused victims never disclose sexual assault at all, that number is likely much higher. Earlier this month, the Texas Department of State Health Services approved Center for Child Counseling’s CampSafe® training which is designed to provide camp leadership and staff with the awareness and knowledge needed to prevent child sexual abuse.
Every nine minutes, a child is a victim of sexual abuse and assault (rainn.org). Of those children who are sexually abused, 90% are abused by someone they know and trust. Center for Child Counseling (CFCC), a Florida-based nonprofit, wants to ensure every child, including all who attend day and overnight camps, is protected and safe from abuse.
“We applaud the State of Texas for mandating instruction within schools and camps on child sexual abuse awareness and prevention and now for putting its stamp of approval on our CampSafe® training in order to provide more options of protection for children with increased prevention and awareness in the summer months,” said CEO of CFCC Renée Layman.
For summer 2023, more than 7,000 camp staff–across 75 camps in 27 states and Canada– participated in the CampSafe® training program, protecting more than 37,000 campers from child sexual abuse. The goal is for all staff–including counselors, administrators, supervisors, dining and health personnel– volunteers, and board members to arrive at camp with the same strong foundational knowledge of child sexual abuse prevention and awarenss.
“Our philosophy is to empower caregivers in all settings with a level of confidence around this topic, therefore better protecting all staff and campers. Training staff and volunteers helps break the cycle of child sexual abuse and shines an important light on this often-taboo topic,” said Cherie Benjoseph, LCSW, director of national outreach and education for CFCC and creator of the CampSafe® training.
The program was created with both young adults, ages 18-26, and more seasoned staff in mind to take the topic seriously but not instill fear and reinforce the message of how to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse. The training promotes compassion toward campers as staff become fluent in the language of safety while providing comfort, aide, and access to supervisory staff for guidance.
According to Nathaniel Miller, a director with New Life Camp, North Carolina, “CampSafe provided an easy yet effective resource to train our summer and seasonal staff in the important understanding of protecting children placed in our care. It handles the serious matter of child abuse in a way that doesn’t sugarcoat the problem but also makes it digestible for high school and college-aged staff. The online course also provided great discussion points when we did our in-person training.”
From setting healthy boundaries to ensuring the entire camp team has a consistent safety protocol, CampSafe® training provides scenarios, interactive learning, and clear safety language for staff. Director training modules include: interviewing and background check protocol; child protection policy and procedures; supervising around the issues of child sexual abuse prevention; in-person followup training to provide during pre-camp week; links to state resources; establishing healthy boundaries ice breakers for counselors and campers; sexual harassment; letters to parents and staff; and post-testing for certification.
“Training before staff arrive at camp, focused squarely on sexual abuse prevention, sends a message that your camp has ‘zero tolerance’ for sexual abuse. This helps weed out potential staff who may have other motives,” added Benjoseph.
The CampSafe® program was developed by professionals with expertise in sexual abuse prevention and training. The Center for Child Counseling team partnered with experts in learning and development, using the most up-to-date elearn method. The training is designed to empower all camp personnel, gently but thoroughly, before camp begins.
In addition to the State of Texas approving CampSafe® for both Youth Camp and Campus Programs for Minors, the American Camp Association also endorses the program. CampSafe® can be provided to all camp staff for a nominal fee, ranging from $250-$650 depending on the number of staff members being trained.
For camp associations, camp directors, parks and recreation departments, and school districts interested in learning more about how to be proactive in preventing and responding to child sexual abuse at your day or overnight camp, visit centerforchildcounseling.org/campsafe or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Center for Child Counseling
Center for Child Counseling has been building the foundation for playful, healthful, and hopeful living for children and families in Palm Beach County since 1999. Its services focus on preventing and healing the effects of adverse experiences and toxic stress on children, promoting resiliency and healthy family, school, and community relationships. www.centerforchildcounseling.org Twitter: @ChildCounselPBC Facebook: @CenterforChildCounseling Instagram: @childcounselpbc