Learn More Apply to Camp Apply to Academy Apply to Gap Year
(828) 456-3435
Learn More Apply to Camp Apply to Academy Apply to Gap Year

How to Respond to Bullying at Camp

What is Considered Bullying?

Bullying is broadly classified as unwanted, aggressive behavior involving some level of power imbalance. Bullying does or has the potential to happen repeatedly. Actions commonly considered as bullying are excluding someone on purpose, spreading rumors, threatening others, and physically or verbally hurting others. Many of our campers have experienced bullying, which has led to self-isolation and low self esteem in some circumstances. While no camp or school environment can guarantee there will be no bullying, there are ways to help prevent its occurrence and ways to help campers learn how to respond when it does happen.

How to Prevent Bullying

Most bullying in the school environment occurs during times with less supervision—in the hallway, the lunchroom, the bus ride home, etc. Bullying also frequently occurs online, where it can be difficult for adults to monitor. At camp, one of the number one ways we work to prevent bullying is by providing a low staff to camper ratio of 1:4 and always keeping campers within our line of site. By keeping our eyes and ears close by at all times, we are able to closely monitor conversations and interactions.

We also set clear expectations of how we will treat one another on the first day of camp. Campers work as a group to develop their “Group Guidelines”. Each group agrees that they will treat each other with respect, verbally and physically. They also develop clear consequences should anyone break one of the guidelines. This ensures that all campers are involved in the decision making process and can be held accountable by their staff and teammates.

How We Respond to Bullying

Unfortunately, we cannot completely prevent bullying. There are times, for example when campers are sleeping in their tents at night, that bullying may occur. From the first day of camp, campers are encouraged to speak up if they feel another camper is treating them or someone else with disrespect. These situations are addressed immediately with both parties. Campers may be asked to develop a contract stating that should the behavior happen again, they are aware of and agree to the next consequence. Should bullying occur outright, the entire group will stop what we are doing and address the problem. If someone has been put down, the bully must give three ups, or three positive things about that person unrelated to their appearance. If the bullying is more severe, it will be addressed with both parties privately, giving each camper an opportunity to express their thoughts and learn to understand how the other is feeling.

We know that when campers return home and to school, they will face bullies or witness bullying happening to others. If your child is typically the one being bullied, we want to teach him/or her to advocate for themselves appropriately. If your child is a bully to others, we want to teach him/or her to think about how their actions affect others.

For more information about bullying, please visit stopbullying.gov.