Being Safe and Healthy
To ensure that all Word of Life campers stay healthy during their time at camp and have a safe camp experience, we have a health center on property, follow a comprehensive safety plan and take extraordinary care in selecting and training our counselors.
A round-the-clock Health Center on camp property is staffed and stocked for both emergencies and routine health care. Two full-time registered nurses run the Health Center with the support of two or three additional registered nurses to ensure health care is always available.
Staff members who have completed the Red Cross Responding to Emergency Certification are available to provide first aid around the property, and staff serving in special activity areas are trained and certified in their respective areas.
We strictly adhere to our own Camp Safety Plan, which is reviewed and approved annually by the New York State Department of Health. The plan includes prevention and response to guide our overall safety program.
Campus security staff identifies and registers all visitors to camp property, and logs and records their entry and exit. As with Word of Life staff and campers, visitors are required to wear identifying bracelets while on campus.
We also keep cabins locked at night and any time they’re not in use during the day. For an additional layer of security, campus security patrols the property throughout the night.
The majority of our Word of Life counselors are students and graduates of Word of Life Bible Institute. Before admittance to the Bible Institute, each applicant’s background is carefully screened.
Even though we know we’re starting with a good bunch of applicants, we still review their experience and interview them personally. We also check in with the Dean’s Office and several other adults who know and can attest to their character and integrity. This helps us ensure that every counselor we hire meets our rigorous standards and is placed in the most effective role.
And last but not least, every camp staffer is screened by state authorities to make sure they clear the National and New York State Sex Offender Registry.
We fill every minute of camp with fun by doing some serious preparation and training before campers arrive.
As students and graduates of Word of Life Bible Institute, counselors have spent at least one school year studying the Bible in one of the strongest Bible training schools in the country! The unique curriculum they follow balances classroom knowledge with practical ministry and life growth.
Staff and counselors are also required to complete an intensive, on-site, 10-day training course that covers topics including leadership, counseling, safety and first aid, child and teen issues, spiritual prevention, camp programming, team building and more!
They also receive specific training on our very own Child Protection Policy and learn all the best practices for working with children and teens. Best practices cover things like awareness, prevention, reporting and response.
Plus, with all the fun camp brings, we know it’s important to have reminders about the serious stuff. So throughout the camp season, staff and counselors attend ongoing in-service training both individually and in group settings.
All eyes on our campers!
We keep a low camper-to-counselor ratio of 1:6 and have a never-alone policy to make sure campers always have supervision. One counselor will always be present with campers, but usually even more! For example, we create great crossover supervision and accountability by assigning three to five counselors to supervise every cabin. These steps help us ensure campers have the individualized attention they need to stay safe and stay fun.
In addition to making sure campers are never on their own, Word of Life follows a child protection program we like to call 360 Degree Supervision. Under this program, we train every counselor on three T’s, three W’s and three R’s.
Here’s what that means:
Touch | Talk | Territory
We clearly define in our Code of Conduct what is appropriate and what is not appropriate for each of these areas. Every staff member must understand and abide by these definitions.
Who | What | Where
At all times… We must know who every person at every location is and each one must be properly identified as staff, camper or visitor. We must know what every person is doing and if that person’s actions are consistent with our Code of Conduct. We must know where every person is located and if that person is violating the private/non-private areas.
Recognize | Resist | Report
All campers and staff members need to be able to recognize what is appropriate or not appropriate and know that they have the right to resist and report any behavior that is not appropriate.
Word of Life has a zero-tolerance policy. All accusations and questionable behaviors are followed up on immediately.
Any accused party will be investigated to the fullest extent and removed from service until a thorough investigation is completed. If determined to be innocent, the staff member may return to service. However, if a staff member is found guilty, our termination and enforcement policy will be enacted and local authorities will be informed.
But we certainly expect that never to happen! Especially with the other accountability measures we take.
To keep everyone accountable, counselors and staff meet regularly with a supervisor for specific feedback and improvement strategies. For counselors, this happens on a daily and weekly basis. This is helpful for staff members, campers and the program as a whole!
All of our camping locations are equipped with a Safebox. A Safebox is similar to a mailbox and is a safe way for students to report any actions or situations they feel are inappropriate or that make them feel uncomfortable. Campers, staff, parents, youth leaders and guests can also report any inappropriate behavior they see or experience to 518-494-6300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every report and any inappropriate action is taken very seriously. Word of Life has a written policy and procedure manual for incident reporting and investigation. Local authorities are involved and engaged in this process.
LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT
Word of Life works to maintain excellent relationships with local and state law enforcement agencies. Various police training exercises have been conducted on our camp properties with the New York State Police Special Operations Unit to ensure that our staff knows how to effectively respond in the event of an emergency. We are pleased and grateful to have such a positive and rewarding relationship with state police.