With summer camps and sleepovers coming up soon, make sure your team is clued up about safeguarding with these useful tips.
Camp can be one of the most common times for young people to make a safeguarding disclosure. Jo Moya, Safeguarding, Welfare and Youth Support Officer, and Andrew Haley, Head of Safeguarding at The Scout Association, have the following advice for making sure everyone stays safe and that the right procedures are followed.
- Talk to parents/guardians. It’s important that leaders have as much information as possible about a young person before they take them away. Without key information about behaviour, habits or worries, leaders cannot fully support that young person. Small things can get exacerbated in the camp environment, but with prior planning and input from parents/guardians, they can be minimised.
- Write a camp code of conduct. This can be a preventative measure, to tackle issues before they arise, and to get the young people thinking about the sort of behaviour that is acceptable on camp. This could be a youth-led activity, and doesn’t have to be limited to camp.
- Think about what happens after camp. While they are away, young people are in a safe environment, removed from daily life. They may be thinking about what they are going home to, or the new school term, so be sensitive to this and encourage parents/guardians to be open about things affecting their child outside Scouting.
- Keep the home contacts list up-to-date. Leaders need to be able to get hold of a parent/guardian if they need to. If parents are going on holiday at the same time as their child is on camp, they must make sure they leave details for another emergency contact with the leaders.
- Treat disclosures seriously. It’s a very difficult thing to make a disclosure at any age, but it can be particularly hard as a young person. Anything disclosed should be treated seriously and with tact.
- Support Young Leaders. Young people are more likely to disclose to other young people first, rather than adults. Young Leaders can seem more approachable because they are closer in age, so Young Leaders should be fully supported by adults to pass information on.
- Have a designated adult. This person is responsible for dealing with any and all welfare issues that arise on camp, creating consistency for both the leadership team and the young people. They should be approachable for everyone.
- Use the Yellow Card. All the information you need about safeguarding, including what to do after a disclosure, is on the Yellow Card. Every adult receives one during their training, and it can be a good idea to have some at your meeting place as a reminder.
- Be aware of how to report. Follow the guidance of the Yellow Card, and make sure you have a clear chain of communications for reporting safeguarding concerns: from section leaders to the Group Scout Leader and the District Commissioner. The DC will usually be responsible for notifying the Safeguarding Team at Headquarters, but anyone can contact them directly with a concern.
A longer version of this article originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of Scouting Magazine. Age-appropriate Stay Safe resources can be downloaded for free from Scout Shops by searching ‘Stay Safe’.