Safety Tips for Summer Camps

Whether it’s day camp, overnight camp, or any other summer activity in a communal space, kids look forward to engaging in arts, sciences, dancing, sports, and nature — and having summer fun. At the same time, it’s normal for parents to have safety concerns.

Here are some tips to help parents, caregivers, and kids plan for a safe and fun summer camp experience — and help reduce the risk of sexual violence while in these spaces.

  • Screen the camp. Look online for the camp’s safety policies and procedures. Consider asking camp staff the following questions:
    • Does the camp require background checks (including the sex offender registry) for all staff members, what is the policy, and is this information made available to the parents?
    • How do they handle accusations of sexual abuse or assault within the camp by staff or other camp goers? Is this information shared with the parents. When, how, by whom?
    • Make sure the camp allows kids to directly contact their parents if necessary.
  • Prepare your child(ren). Talk to your kids about their safety while at summer camp. These conversations can be a part of the ongoing dialogue you’re already having with your child about their safety, like knowing what boundaries are, how to set them, and when and how to speak up when someone crosses them. Reinforce with them that having boundaries is important and listening to their gut when they feel their boundaries have been crossed or unsafe will help them stay safest in the long run. Tell your child to communicate even the smallest concern with you. Let them know you are there to support them and help them work through their concerns.The key is to start these conversations early and have them often.
  • Get specific. Let your child know that no one has the right to touch them, or make them feel uncomfortable and use examples to illustrate the point. These can include horseplay with other kids, including touching or tackling during sports. It is important to let your child know their body is their own, and equally important that they know they do not have the right to touch someone else if that person does not want to be touched.

What do I do if my child tells me they were abused?

If something happens to your child, remember that the perpetrator is to blame—not you or your child. Here are tips that you may use if your child discloses that they were abused, which come from RAINN’s Lean On Me: A caregiver’s guide to safeguarding children and supporting healing from sexual abuse and additional resources from RAINN.

  • Remain calm. It can be shocking to hear about abuse. Keep in mind how difficult it is for your child to disclose what happened, and make sure to prioritize their needs and experience over your own.
  • Explain your emotional reaction if you are unable to remain calm. If your first response is a negative reaction, please take the time to explain, and name your feelings (sadness, anger, shock). Also take the time to reassure the child that you are not upset with them, and that they are not in trouble.
  • Look for and respond to signs that the child is reliving the trauma. The child may become flooded with emotions, and relive the experience. Support the child by:
    • Encouraging them to take slow, deep breaths; sitting on the floor and holding onto their knees may help.
    • Ask them to keep their eyes open to help bring them back to the present.
    • Ask them to look around the room and name some ordinary objects they see. Do this until they feel calmer.
    • Respect the child’s personal space, and do not touch them unless given permission. Always follow their lead.
  • Believe the child. It is critical for children to feel safe and believed. Validate their feelings, reactions, responses, and experiences, they are all valid.
  • Let them know they won’t get in trouble. Many perpetrators use secret-keeping or threats as a way of keeping children quiet about abuse. Remind your child frequently that they will not get in trouble for talking to you, no matter what they need to say. When they do come to you, follow through on this promise and avoid punishing them for speaking up.

Additional Resources

To speak with a trained support specialist, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or chat online in English at or in Spanish at

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