Section 2: Safety


The harsh reality is that young people are at risk of assault and abuse even in caring families, schools, and communities. The good news is that there are simple and effective ways of teaching children how to protect themselves that will work most of the time.

While each state is responsible for establishing its definitions of child abuse and neglect, most include the following:

  • Physical abuse: physical injury resulting from hitting, kicking, shaking, burning, or otherwise harming a child.

  • Sexual abuse: any situation where a child is used for sexual gratification. This may include indecent exposure, fondling, rape, or commercial exploitation through prostitution or the production of pornographic material.

  • Emotional abuse: any pattern of behavior that impairs a child’s emotional development or sense of self-worth, including constant criticism, threats, and rejection.

  • Neglect: failure to provide for a child’s basic needs.

At Sanibel Sea School, safety is our number goal always. Skills and knowledge are the keys to keeping kids safe. We want to do everything in our power first to prevent abuse. In the unfortunate event that abuse occurs, we have a responsibility to act. We must trust our instincts and work together to keep each other safe.

How can we prevent abuse?

1. Be a Role Model At camp, we teach values. We teach honesty, caring, respect, and responsibility. We pass on this culture to campers by modeling respectful behavior. If we are overheard “teasing,” telling inappropriate jokes to one another or talking about our love lives – what example does that set? We have a zero-tolerance policy on abuse and other inappropriate behaviors.

2. Understand and Enforce Guidelines – If you need clarification on appropriate interactions between staff and campers and between campers and other campers, talk to a senior staff member about it in confidence. There should be minimal physical contact between campers and staff, but sometimes we hug, high-five, or carry campers. If physical interaction makes you feel uncomfortable at any point, trust your gut, and report it to a counselor immediately. It is our job to handle it, but you can help us be vigilant.

3. Rule of 3 – You should never be alone with a camper. Counselors should never be in seclusion with one camper. Campers should always go places in groups of 3, where one to two members of this group need to be counselors to provide adequate supervision so that a camper is never left alone with anyone, one on one. The buddy system is a great tool to utilize here.

4. Engaged Supervision – High-risk areas and times of the day require additional management. This includes free time (time between programs, meals, etc.), changing at the end of the day, or trips to the restroom. We need to be especially vigilant during these vulnerable times. Look to your counselors to direct you so we can work effectively as a team.

What should you do if you suspect something?

See Something, Say Something! Don’t be afraid to speak up and mention something to your counselors. They are trained and equipped to handle these situations. It is not your job to act but to help be our eyes and ears throughout the day. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to the counselor, feel empowered to go directly to Shannon (Sanibel Sea School’s Director).


Although bullying has been around for a long time, what we know about it and how to prevent it has increased enormously during the last two decades. Through research and successful bullying prevention programs, we know effective skills and strategies to prevent and stop bullying in children’s lives.

What Is Bullying?

Many seemingly harmless behaviors, such as teasing or excluding, can escalate into bullying. Look out for these behaviors, and help campers look out for them, too, so that everyone can prevent bullying before it happens.

Bullying is a form of emotional or physical abuse that has three defining characteristics:

  1. Deliberate — a bully intends to hurt someone

  2. Repeated — a bully often targets the same victim again and again

  3. Power imbalanced — a bully chooses victims they perceive as vulnerable

Look Out for the Warning Signs

To be able to stop bullying, it’s also important to look out for warning signs that campers might show. These include:

  • Unexplained damage or loss of clothing and other items

  • Evidence of physical abuse (bruises and scratches)

  • Loss of friends; changes in friends; lack of friends

  • Reluctance to participate in activities

  • Unusually sad, moody, anxious, lonely, or depressed

  • Problems with eating or sleeping

  • Headaches, stomachaches, and other physical complaints

  • Thoughts of suicide or revenge

Contributing to Our Camp’s Bullying-Free Environment

Creating positive relationships is one of the keys to bullying prevention. Bullying is less likely to occur at camp if campers and counselors feel closely connected and responsible for one another. When campers develop positive relationships, they feel comfortable voicing their concerns and seeking help when bullying incidents occur.

It’s also important for CITs to examine their bullying behaviors. CITs’ actions toward each other and campers can either set the tone for respectful, inclusive relationships or contribute to an environment where bullying is likely to occur. You become a good role model for your campers when you engage in respectful behavior.

Some children who attend camp are bullies in their school or community. If you set the right tone at camp and create a positive and respectful environment, children who bully have a chance to change their behavior and engage in more positive interactions with their peers.

How can YOU prevent bullying?

  • Promote connections

  • Gain and give respect

  • Communicate our one rule and three goals and exemplify our shared vision

  • Recognize bullying when it happens, take it seriously, show support, and be patient

  • Be a helpful bystander

  • Report bullying to senior staff

  • Don’t ask campers to “work things out” for themselves

  • Follow up to make sure that the bullying does not continue

The Emergency Action Plan

Sanibel Sea School prioritizes safety. All of the counselors and staff are lifeguard and first aid certified and will be monitoring the safety of the campers at all times. Even though you may not be lifeguard certified yet, it is still essential for you to take an active role in safety.

You can assist the counselors by…

  • Keeping your group together, especially while walking to different locations

  • Counting the number of campers while in water activities

  • Informing counselors of any injuries or incidents

  • Reminding campers to apply sunscreen and drink water throughout the day

  • Preventing and redirecting risky behaviors

If a camper is injured, alert a counselor or senior staff member immediately. You can assist the counselor with crowd management if the injury is minor. Campers tend to congregate around other injured campers, which makes it more difficult for counselors to help. You can alleviate this problem by engaging with the other campers and keeping them busy with a game or activity. 

Below is a copy of Sanibel Sea School’s Emergency Action Plan (EAP). These are the steps that counselors follow when both emergencies and non-emergencies occur. We’ve included the EAP in this training so that you have a better understanding of the steps we take when a camper is injured.