Practising Water Safety Before and After Camp
March 21, 2017 by Shelley Makepeace

Swimming is one of Canada’s greatest experiences, with so much fun to be had in, on and around the water throughout Canada.

Whether it’s your child’s first year at camp or their third this summer, there are water-related steps that all parents should take to make sure that the experience is safe as well as fun. Steps can be taken before, during and after camp when it comes to water safety.

Before Camp

It’s always a good idea to do your research on a camp before sending your child there. Ask about the supervision protocols: Are there separate swim staff (e.g., lifeguards)?; What training or certification do the counsellors have? Also, if there are watercrafts, like boats or canoes, at the camp make sure they have the right equipment like approved lifejackets. Then, talk with your child about what you learn and what they can expect, so they start thinking about being safe around the water before they are even at camp.

Make sure to help your children understand and pack what they will need to stay safe, especially if you’re not sure what will be provided at camp. Sunscreen and a UV shirt can provide protection while kids are playing outdoors for a large portion of the day. Depending on the camp, it’s also a good idea to pack two towels and two swim suits so they’re not putting on a wet suit while they go in and out of the water throughout the day. Extras will help keep them comfortable instead of wet and cold. If you’re not sure the camp provides lifejackets, send one along too.

During Camp

Make sure that children understand they need to follow the rules when it comes to water safety. They shouldn’t just run and jump into the water – they need to listen carefully to their camp counsellors. Camp staff are able to closely watch children and determine their abilities in the water. If they have any concerns, children need to recognize the importance of respecting and accepting what they’re being told. Children should also know to alert a counsellor if they see someone who is hurt or struggling in the water.

Swimming with a buddy who is at the same level that they are is also a good strategy for kids at camp. If they partner with someone who is a much stronger swimmer their buddy may be tempted to take risks or swim off, leaving them alone.

Make sure your child knows their limits. It’s easy for children to want to push themselves when all of their friends are having fun, but if they’re feeling worn out or tired it’s time to get out of the water.

After Camp

The best thing to do is to swim with your kids when you can, throughout the year. Give them plenty of opportunities to be in and around water, and let them be involved in planning the activities. What should you bring to the beach? What do you need to do before you go boating? And always reinforce the same rule: “Stop, look, ask” – stop before they approach or get in water, look around for dangers and their parents or an adult, then ask to get into the water.

No matter the time of year, enrol your child in swimming lessons. Swimming lessons should also give children the experience of swimming with their clothes on. Many incidents happen when children unexpectedly fall into water fully clothed and find it hard to swim with clothes on. Practice teaches them how to respond in these situations.

By exploring the great outdoors and exposing your children to being in, on and around the water, you’re creating lasting memories as well as important skills. Camp can be a wonderful part of childhood that they will remember for years to come.

Posted in