On Monday, we went to a New Jersey state park that was a beach, and we saw two summer camps there with very different styles in monitoring the children in the ocean. One camp seemed very organized with two counselors stationed at the shoreline, one counselor in the water, two counselors back on the beach and one counselor monitoring the bath house if the kids used the bathroom. The counselors switched out and told the kids to check in when they switched from one location to the other. The two counselors on the shore line were directing the kids back up the beach when they would drift and were constantly counting heads to make sure no one had gone under. The counselor told me they had 35 kids in their group and she said she was really stressed about making sure they were safe.
The other camp — both from the same organization just different towns — had a pack of counselors chatting away at the shoreline. I didn’t see anyone in the water up or the beach. There were backs turned to the ocean where the kids were. It was downright scary to watch.
There were multiple life guards on the beach who were being very diligent, but it was a very packed beach.
Growing up my brother and I went to camp at a large Baptist church. The camp took us to a local pool at least twice a week and often we went on field trips to lakes around Atlanta. Even as a kid, I noticed that the counselors were often sun bathing, chatting or flirting. They didn’t seem particular aware of who was in the water or how well they were swimming.
I would feel pretty comfortable with my big kids at a pool with a camp. Lakes scare me and definitely not an ocean with currents, waves and rip tides.
So what do you think: Would you let a summer camp take your kids to the beach? What about a youth group trip? Are your more comfortable with the flatness of the a pool or lake versus waves and currents? How would you know if you had the good camp or the bad camp? (It was shocking how different their care was.)