Every camp should consider writing and publishing a summer camp social media policy and sharing it with parents, campers and staff alike! Read more q&a about summer camp social media in this post! While you won’t always be able to control what campers do when at home, via social media, email or other forms of online communication, you can provide a safe space for campers, their parents and your staff to interact when not at camp. Parents especially would welcome hearing from you as to your position on staff and camper online relationships.
Should campers and counselors be friends online?
This is a tough question and at the end of the day, is something only you can decide as you know your staff and your campers best. When composing your social media policy and instructing your staff on what is appropriate behavior with campers, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Do we want staff to be online friends with campers at all?
2. If we do, should we require all staff to put campers on their “limited profile” list?
3. Should campers and counselors exchange email addresses?
4. Do we want our staff to be responsible for communicating and “mentoring” campers outside of camp, during the off season? If so, how should you facilitate this?
5. What if a staff member or camper “breaks” the rules of your summer camp social media policy? Are there consequences?
These are tough questions since often times, counselors become important role models to your campers and campers look up to your staff. In a perfect world, both parties would want to continue this strong relationship outside of camp in a safe and appropriate way, but you can’t monitor your staff or your campers when they aren’t under your supervision. And you can’t expect both parties to act as you would like them to either.
We forget sometimes that even though we are hiring great staff members who truly want to work with kids and inspire them, they still have lives of their own, which might include photos of drunken evenings or other inappropriate activities that campers shouldn’t be seeing online. Whether you want campers to still engage with your staff after they’ve gone home but in a more limited way (limited profile on Facebook or via camp-run facebook pages and email addresses) or want to restrict contact completely, is up to you and the culture you’d like to create at your camp.
Important tip! Make it clear that your camp is associated with and responsible for content and conversations taking place through official camp channels only when speaking with parents and drafting your summer camp social media policy!
Want more about summer camp and social media? Check out this post on creating a great camp Facebook page, how to use Facebook to market your camp, and how to create the best summer camp Instagram profile.