Responsibilities When Working With Children
So you fancy working abroad for a spell and summer camps seem like an ideal way to see another part of the world without spending too much money, and hopefully having a good time while you’re at it. But summer camps are all about children. Perhaps you’ve never worked with children before. You may feel intimidated by that level of responsibility. But you shouldn’t be.
Summer camp organisations are used to working with people just like you, often young adults who don’t have much life experience yet and may not have handled serious responsibility before. They do this year in, year out, recruiting people just like you to do the jobs they need done. If it didn’t work, they wouldn’t keep doing it.
Training For Work With ChildrenYou will be given training by the camp organisation and a guide book making clear what your responsibilities are and what you should do in each circumstance which might arise.
There will always be someone with more knowledge and experience to call on if serious difficulties should develop.While there are exceptions, in most cases the children you’ll be dealing with will be the well-behaved products of good families. It costs quite a lot for parents to send their children to these camps so, in practice, there just won’t be many children from broken homes and the poorer social strata who are more likely to exhibit behavioural problems.
Your Relationship With The ChildrenChildren naturally accept the authority of “big people” so you normally don’t need to worry about them saying “No!” to you. Although courses in first aid or child welfare issues never hurt, you’ll find that working with children at summer camp is more about establishing an emotional rapport with them than anything else. If you’re open and confident and friendly, everything should be fine.
Guidelines For Working With ChildrenWhenever you’re working with children, safety is paramount. In a well-run camp, everything should have been designed in such a way as to be virtually risk-free. If you’re engaged in some activity which you think carries some risk, just call it off. This also applies if you’re not sure about something, and feel you haven’t been properly prepared for it, call it off. Caution should always take precedence.
Disciplining the children may sometimes be necessary. You will be given careful guidelines about how this is to be done. Pay strict attention to these guidelines and never exceed them. Never give in to personal anger, no matter how strongly you are provoked.
It’s important to know your limitations when working with children. If the child exhibits serious medical symptoms, or signs of psychiatric disorder, you are simply not qualified to deal with it. You need to ask for help.
In the UK, everyone who works with children is taught to look for the tell-tale signs of abuse and neglect. While the rules will be different abroad, and such cases will be rare, it may be that during the time you spend with a child, you will be given good reason to believe that something bad has happened to him or her. Your duty then is to report your suspicion to a higher authority, first in the camp hierarchy, then perhaps outside.