Things parents can do to help combat summer camp bullying

Camp is synonymous with summer for many families. Millions of children will spend time in a summer camp this year. Parents may not realize that some of them will end up being bullied while they are there. It should be all fun and games, but with bullying being the issue that it is, parents have to take action. The good news is that there are things they can do to help combat the problem.

“Nobody sends their child to summer camp thinking about bullying,” said Kirk Smalley, co-founder of Stand for the Silent. “Yet, we know that many kids will be bullied there, so we have to have a plan and know what to do. The sooner we take action on this, the better off our kids will be.”

According to the American Camp Association, around 26 million people attend summer camps. They also report that over half of all camps reported an increase in enrollment over the previous year. People love to attend summer camps for the fun, memories, and varied experiences. Some parents need their children to attend summer camps so they have something to do while at work and the child is out of school.

Camps can be a wonderful thing until bullying enters the picture. Anytime there is a group of kids or teens brought together, the possibility of bullying is there. Camp creates an atmosphere where kids often compete for attention and popularity, among other things. Just like when they are in school, bullying situations will arise. When it does, parents and caretakers must address it immediately so that it doesn’t continue or create a hostile camp atmosphere.

Here are some things that parents can do to help combat bullying at summer camp

  • Choose wisely.Start by picking summer camps with a lower bullying risk than others. Speak with someone in charge to ask their stance on bullying. Choose camps with a zero-tolerance policy for bullying and a plan for dealing with it if it should arise.
  • Raise awareness. Communities that raise awareness about bullying can help reduce its incidence. Put bullying in the spotlight in your community by having guest speakers, getting teens involved in speaking out against it, and helping people learn how to address it. Creating a positive atmosphere helps to address the problem.
  • Be persistent.Continue the crusade of stomping out bullying in your community. Being persistent in ensuring it is a topic of discussion in the community will go a long way toward raising it in the community. People need to know what bullying looks like and what to do if they see it.
  • Get support.When children are bullied at camp, it should be addressed right away so that it doesn’t build up. Discuss it with the camp counselor or person in charge so that it is handled immediately. Speak with the parents of the child doing the bullying so that it can be addressed at home. Get outside support, depending on the severity of the issue.
  • Be ready to leave.If a child is being bullied at camp even after the counselor and camp staff have addressed the issue, it may be time to make a move. Continuing to send a child to a camp where they are being bullied is detrimental to their health. Request a refund from the camp and find an alternative option.

“Summer camp needs bullying prevention, just like school does,” added Smalley. “We are happy to help schools, camps, and communities up their bully prevention game!”

Smalley and his wife, Laura, started the organization following their 11-year-old son, ending his own life due to bullying. They turned their pain and loss into a mission of helping others. He travels the country giving presentations about bullying to schools, providing bullying prevention, giving out scholarships, offering intervention strategies, and more. Those interested in getting involved can start a chapter of the group in their area, obtain a free K-2 bullying prevention curriculum or cyberbullying handbook for parents, host a presentation at their school, introduce the How All Started video, and donate to help support the cause. To get more information, visit the site at

About Stand for the Silent
Started in 2010, Stand for the Silent is an organization on a mission to help eliminate bullying nationwide. Kirk and Laura Smalley founded the group after their child took his own life due to bullying. They offer free resources for parents and educators and travel to schools to host presentations. They have been to over 6,025 schools and spoken with more than 4.15 million students. To get more information, visit the site at