A lot of parents have questions about sending their children to camp. Our FAQ article from the most recent edition of our newsletter aims to answer these questions and address the most common concerns.
1. What qualifications are required to be a Camp Starlight counselor?
Camp Starlight counselors must be at least 19 years old, have experience working with children and interested in working with children from diverse backgrounds. Counselors must demonstrate motivation to learn about the challenges children who are affected by HIV face and a willingness to live in community, working cooperatively with all staff and volunteers to make a magical camp week. All volunteers must be emotionally healthy and physically capable of engaging in camp activities. We complete background checks on all volunteers and call references to ensure that we are hiring safe, skilled, knowledgeable and inspired volunteers.
2. What are the overall health and safety measures Camp Starlight has in place?
Camp Starlight has a complete medical team, including a pediatrician and two nurses. We often also have medical students, residents and fellows who receive training in Club Med (Camp Starlight’s infirmary). All medical providers are specifically trained in both HIV and in pediatrics. Camp Starlight has a comprehensive behavioral health team called the Twinkle Team that includes mental health professionals, case managers and behavioral specialists. We also often have students, interns and residents who receive training from this team while at Camp Starlight. As a foundation to safety and a matter of course, we have risk management policies and procedures, provide training to all staff and volunteers on risk management and work cooperatively with the camp facility to align all safety measures. At Camp Starlight, we have a 1:1 adult-to-child ratio so that we can ensure both the safety of your child while at Camp and their enjoyment.
3. Is there a way to contact my child when they are at camp?
Parents and guardians are always welcome to call us here at Camp Starlight in order to reach their child(ren). Our Twinkle Team Director and Twinkle Team Case Manager will coordinate calls with your child, while at Camp. We encourage families to support their camper(s) in focusing on their time at Camp with their Camp friends, and we work to minimize phone time so as to minimize home missing and promote the Camp experience. Every child is different and every family is different in terms of their communication needs. We work with each family to ensure a happy and healthy stay at Camp.
4. How does your staff handle homesickness?
All staff and volunteers are trained in working with campers who are missing home. Techniques such as reserving time in the day to talk about things a camper is missing often helps camper focus on Camp the rest of the day. Campers are often encouraged to make arts and crafts projects for people they are missing. With a 1:1 adult-to-child ratio, every child can receive the individual adult attention they need. At the same time, they are surrounded by other children with whom they may share experiences. Campers are encouraged to support one another through any home missing episodes. Campers may be given permission to talk with a parent or guardian by phone if the child, counselors and Twinkle Team feel this would be helpful.
5. Will they get their medicine on time?
Club Med is the name of our Camp infirmary. Club Med is staffed by a doctor and 2 nurses, and has a clear procedure for dispensing medications to all campers on time. Some campers have special needs around taking medication, which are informed by the family and implemented by the Club Med team. Personalized care for each child is the model we apply, where every camper gets the care and support they need to ensure medication compliance and adherence while at Camp Starlight.
6. Can parents attend Camp Starlight?
Parents are not permitted to attend Camp Starlight. Providing children with a space that is theirs and all about them is the goal of Camp, as well as providing respite to parents and guardians. We encourage families to take a break and enjoy the time that we are not only caring for their children, but teaching them, inspiring them and celebrating them.