Letters to the Editor
Sosland, Blanche, Phi Kappa Phi Forum
Camping Out Against Bullying
In the outstanding spring 2011 edition of Phi Kappa Phi Forum, theme of "Empathy." clinical psychologist Karen Waters covered a broad range of crucial issues in her excellent article, "Teenage Bullies: Might Not Right." First among them was why some adolescents turn into bullies.
One dimension not addressed by Waters is especially relevant this time of year: bullying that occurs at summer camps. Almost 10 million children attend upwards of 7,000 resident camps and 5,000 day camps in the U.S. each year, according to the American Camp Association. And bullying surely has been a problem since their inception some 150 years ago.
(Editor's note: For a look at Color War. a type of Olympics, held at summer camps, see page 19.)
Most bullying occurs at "free time" (unstructured moments): when campers are on their way to activities; in the showers; and after "lights out." while campers are going to sleep and counselors are socializing with peers. Also, in this digital era, campers get picked on before, during, and after camp in chat rooms and at other Internet venues via eyberbullying.
More and more camps enforce strict anti-bullying policies. And bullying prevention has become an important component of pre-camp staff professional development. The Student Empowerment Session, developed in 1993 by my colleague and child advocate SuEUen Fried, would be an ideal tool for summer camps. This interactive strategy helps children learn about the pain inflicted bybullying and about how kindness and empathy help in banishing bullying behavior. Fried has worked successfully with more than 90.000 students in 36 states using it. We recommend adapting the Student Empowerment Session as a Camper Empowerment Session, which can be implemented around the campfire at cabin meetings, or in division gatherings to address the issue of bullying. …