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Camp wapo youth protection policy

On January 30, 2020, Camp Wapo updated its "Youth Protection Policy." A copy of that policy is found here: Click for Youth Protection Policy.

The following is a message from Heather Eggert, Executive Director of Lake Wapogasset Lutheran Bible Camp, dated January 31, 2020, sent to member congregations: 

Dear Ministry Partners,

As many of you know, the work of our board and staff this fall and winter has centered on communicating with and providing information to camper families and congregations that arose out of a camper safety issue.  We are grateful for the ways many of you have shared support and prayers for all who have been involved.  We remain committed to providing safe spaces for kids at camp. 

Our board has conducted a thorough review of our practices and policies, and has created a Youth Protection policy (attached) that articulates our expectations and protocols that surround our commitment to youth protection.  This document is posted on our website, and will become a part of our staff training sessions.

Our policies and protocols have been developed in accordance with local and state statutes, as well as meeting and/or exceeding American Camp Association (“ACA”) criteria.  We have been accredited with ACA for over 20 years and undergo an annual review of policies and protocols through ACA.  Please visit www.acacamps.org for more information about the scope of the accreditation process.  In order to obtain this accreditation we must show written policies, provide proof that staff received training in each area,  as well as have ACA visitors conduct an on-site visit in order to see that what we say we do, is actually what we do.   

We take recruiting, hiring, training and our supervision of counselors very seriously.  Our hiring process consists of an application, criminal background and sex offender background checks.  Each counselor must have 2 references and a personal interview.  We conduct a two-week summer staff training in the Spring to prepare counselors to care for campers during the summer.  We utilize internal and external professionals to deliver the training.  We conduct regular and on-going supervisory check-ins throughout the entire summer season with each counselor.

We are confident in the policies and protocols we have in place, but remain committed to ongoing review and evaluation in utilizing best practices. What I can state with certainty, is that we will be even more vigilant in the future to ensure we don't ever have a situation like this again.  We are adding an on-line child safety certificate course for all of our year-round and seasonal employees to obtain.  We have always included multiple sessions on this topic already, and this will add another layer to that training.  We are tweaking our incident reporting process to ensure that any incident involving camper or counselor behavior is immediately shared with me, as the Executive Director.  We are adding additional summer staff training sessions with a broader range of external expertise.  We are changing the format for how we verbally share our Camp Traditions (camp rules and expectations) with campers, shortly after their arrival at camp.

This work surrounding camper safety will continue to be at the forefront of all that we do.  We greatly value your partnership and support, and look forward to continued ministry opportunities.  Please feel free to reach out to me with any additional questions you may have.