Summer Camp Has Pool Time, but My Kids Can't Swim. Should I Be Afraid?

Updated on April 14, 2010
M.W. asks from Plano, TX
26 answers

I would like to sign my kids for summer day camp. But, the one thing holding me back is the fact that my kids don't know how to swim. I did speak to the Head Counselor about my fears and she's told me that the non-swimmers are designated to the shallow end of the pool. I'm so afraid of what could happen. Should I have my kids take private swim lessons ASAP so by camp this summer I won't be afraid? Any ideas? Am I just being paranoid?

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V.T.

answers from Dallas on

YES, by all means put them in swim lessons. I am not at all paranoid, in fact I think I'm pretty laid back as far as mom's go, but swimming is a necessary life skill. Not to mention tons of fun for a kid! Even in shallow water, if they get knocked down or disoriented, having a basic knowledge of swimming will help them to be comfortable and safe in the water. Again, I believe that knowing how to swim is a basic AND necessary life skill. Teach them to swim and not only will they have much more fun, but they'll be safer and you can relax!

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K.F.

answers from Salinas on

Everyone should know how to swim. Get her in lessons ASAP and depending on her age she'll at least be comfortable in the water. If she cannot swim by the time camp rolls around can't you just ask that she wear a life vest when in the pool?

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L.T.

answers from Dallas on

I would not send my kids to a camp with swimming. I dont care how much sumervision there is. My daughter is almost 4. WHen she is older maybe but no way right now.

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K.S.

answers from Bismarck on

I never allow my children to go swimming with large groups unless I am with them. This includes summer camps, school programs or birthday parties. Two years ago the summer program at the school took the kids to an indoor pool. They had plenty of staff and there were lifeguards on duty. My daughter's best friend, who was 6 yrs old, was not in the water at all. She was apparently bumped by some other kids and fell into the pool. She was in 3 feet of water for less than two minutes and is now permanently brain damaged. This all happened within three feet of the lifeguard stand but there were so many kids in the pool that day he didn't notice.

http://www.bismarcktribune.com/news/local/article_e63e0e2...

No matter how closely the kids are supervised accidents still happen. Would it be possible for you to take some time off on the days they go to the pool? That way you can go with them and they don't feel like they are being left out. Or is the camp willing to offer an alternative activity that day for the kids who do not go swimming?

If you do choose to send your kids to the pool make sure they have life jackets on at all times and teach them what to do if they do fall into the water (Don't panic!!). You don't want to instill fear in your kids but they do need to understand that pools can be dangerous places.

And by all means, get them into swimming lessons. I found that it was easier to hire a lifeguard to do private lessons for my kids. Call your local pool to see if that's an option.

Good luck!

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T.F.

answers from Dallas on

I would sign your kids up for swim lessons ASAP! Learning to swim is a very essential tool your kids will need to know. Summer camp with a pool is not the only safety issue you will run into if your kids do not learn to swim. Basic swimming is not a luxury but a need. If money is an issue, there are lots of people that own pools that would love to give private lessons for much cheaper then swim instructor-taught classes. I taught swim lessons to babies as young as 12 mos for years with great success. I would not want my kids near a pool without my personal supervision if they were not good at keeping their head above water in the least.

Good luck!

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C.C.

answers from Dallas on

You are not being paranoid, just being a good and cautious mom. You don't mention what ages your children are. But unless your children have shown a fear of water, I would say it is OK for them to play in the shallow end. What is the camp's track record? Have there been any pool incidents? It is your right to ask. And get some references from others who have put their kids in that camp (maybe even use this forum to ask!).

Swim lessons are always a good thing. My two older children took lessons for several years -- not because I thought they would become world-class swimmers, but because I wanted them to have some basic water skills. I have a 3 year old and I plan to put her in swim lessons this summer.

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C.B.

answers from Dallas on

I remember my experience with Day Camps and given a large group of kids, there are always going to be some who can't swim; or bowl; or roller-skate! Camp is a great place for them to learn just by being around other kids. I think the counselors are mindful of this and will take the necessary steps during swimtime. Their liability is just too great not too. Keep in mind that accidents do happen even to kids that can swim. We just can't keep them in the anemone forever.

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J.L.

answers from Minneapolis on

"

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A.A.

answers from Denver on

Your child will not by any means be alone in not knowing how to swim. You do have the option to have swim lessons asap. But personally I wouldn't panic. A good program is going to have adults in the pool with the kids, watching for any problems. And kids usually know their limits with water and cling close to the wall or stay in the shallows. By far the most common water related problems I ever saw as a day care director were with kids horsing around and accidentally causing a problem for a child they thought could swim well, not realizing they couldn't be latched onto or dunked or other sorts of horsing around.

There will be a lot of people at that pool from staff of the child care to lifeguards watching your kids. While it would probably be a good idea to get them swim lessons at some point, there should be no reason they can't have fun at summer camp now.

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L.L.

answers from Hartford on

I can understand your fears. My son has been in day summer camp since the summer before he entered kindergarten. I was not as concerned when he went to the YMCA and they had a wadding pool for the little kids. But then he started a camp that has a lake. I was terrified and drilled the instructors about water safety. All my fears went away the first day at pick up. There were counselors lined up every 4 feet on the beach, right at the waters edge, watching the children. They had buddy systems and other safety rules that were in place. You may want to see a few days of camp in action to make sure it meets your childrens needs. Talk to some parents who have had thier children in the program and ask them how it went. Swim lessons or not, supervision is what is the most important. Best Wishes.

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S.F.

answers from Madison on

My daughter went to a summer swim camp and when they had open swim time all the campers wore life vests in the pool, even if they knew how to swim. There were life guards of course, but this was an extra safety measure while the kids were just in the water having fun. Maybe your kids could have life jackets for added security around the water.

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S.S.

answers from Santa Barbara on

M.-
I would consider swim classes in lieu of summer camp. All kids should have a basic knowledge of swimming. Maybe swim classes during the early weeks of summer and summer swim camp later?

I still won't let my son swim in the ocean past his shoulders, because I don't think his swimming is strong enough. He's 11 and he's going back to swim class.
S.

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S.L.

answers from Dallas on

a bit paranoid! would lessons be great? yes! but not deadly necessary if at the shallow end with lots of supervision. my oldest boy doesn't swim perfectly and my youngest boy not really, but yet we still go in pools. why deny them the right to cool off and play around as long as safety rules are followed?

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K.K.

answers from Dallas on

Which camp? Is this with Parks and Rec? I see them chaperoning the kids, not just letting them loose. Some of the older kids do get some free roam time, but kids not able to swim and never left alone.

I would not be okay with just designated area. But I doubt they are just going to leave them. Most all the summer camps I have seen in the area have may kids working with them and almost always are chaperoned in the pool, while yes they are in a designated area they will be with camp guides making sure the are having fun as well.

If they don't find some that do, their are many summer camps in the area.
http://www.iswimemler.com/ I have had several friends go through them. I used parks and rec, but it fills up so quickly, hard to get in. I have a pool, so between classes and just using it has been fine.

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W.L.

answers from Dallas on

Do you swim? It sounds like you are more afraid of the water than they are. Swimming lessons are always a good idea and you are never too old, perhaps you should join them. My husband does not swim because his Mother is afraid of the water and taught him that fear. You did not mention the ages of your children, are they old enough to stand in the shallow end? If so most of the swim time at camps is really just playing in the water not actual swimming. Good luck I know it will be hard, I live in a mixed family, a non-swimmer and an ex-swim team member.

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S.W.

answers from Dallas on

I think being proactive would mean signing them up for swimming lessons. They may not know how to swim like experts, obviously, but they'll have the basics. That's important.

Being paranoid and worrying is your job...you're a mom..that's what we do. The "job" starts the moment they're born and doesn't end.

Sign up for swim lessons, definitely.

M.C.

answers from Dallas on

Hi M.,
This is a wonderful opportunity for you to jump start the safety of your children before summer camp begins.
Yes to swimming lessons.
This will also give you some sort of peace of mind.
Some questions back.
How deep is the pool, who will be watching the children in the pool.
I have been teaching swimming lessons for over 20 years in Plano and hears this all the time.
Camps that have or go to pools but offer no lessons or safety programs.
All children must learn to swim-it is a life skill that not only saves lives but allows for physical fitness, fun and definitely a cooling off time in our hot Texas summers.
We at Aqua~Fit pride ourselves on Safety First-teaching how to be safe in, on and around the water.
Start now and enjoy your summer.
M. C.
Aqua~Fit
###-###-####
[email protected]____.com

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A.G.

answers from Dallas on

Yes! Get them swimming lessons. In only an hour a day for a week, they will know how to swim. Totally worth it. It will give you peace of mind!

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A.R.

answers from Dallas on

My kids can swim, but I held off on summer day camps with pools until I was completely comfortable with them being in the water when I wasn't there. It just wasn't worth it to me, and there are so many options for day camps that we found something that was a better fit for us. By all means sign them up for swim lessons, but for your own sanity you might want to wait a year before you put them in a camp with a pool.

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G.A.

answers from Dallas on

Have themk take lessons. I could swim or dog paddle but never learned to tread water. I almost drown three times in my life. I took lessons as a kid but it was in lakes that were cold so at about 32 yr I took them again. From then on not afraid. I have lived around lakes and water all my life. I taught my kids and step child to swim. I am not a strong swimmer but was one of those afraid if a boyfriend asked me out to the beach I would be afraid to go. Your fears will pass to them. You need to also take lessons. They will be watching your children. G. W

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E.L.

answers from Dallas on

I would absolutely get them in swim lessons whether they go to camp OR NOT! Swimming is so important to know, it doesn’t matter if Camp has a pool, you have a pool or if your friends have pools, there are water dangers all over the place!

AquaKids has a great program. My kids started there last season (3 ½ and 5) and they can both swim the length of the pool w/ out help. Please let me know if you need additional information, it breaks my heart when I hear about a drowning… a child lost their life in Keller just last week!

Good Luck!
E.

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J.S.

answers from Dallas on

By all means.....get them swimming lessons!!! My mother transferred her fear onto my brother and myself when we were kids and consequently to this day I don't know how to swim. It is such great exercise but I just can't get past my fear now!!! So....get them swimming lessons. I made sure my kids did when they were young so they wouldn't develop my fear. They swim like little fishes now and enjoy it!

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T.P.

answers from Dallas on

I'm sure your children will be in good hands at camp, however I would not hesitate to get swim lessons. It would not only calm your fears but also theirs. Every child needs to know basic swim moves, you don't want to worry every time they are near a river, pool or lake. Good luck!

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J.H.

answers from Dallas on

OMG, you should be afraid!!! Children can drown in 2 inches of water and it can happen it two seconds. Please trust your instincts and not those of a camp counselor. It will take more than one summer to teach your kids to swim so please have some patience with regard to this. There is always camp next year or the next.

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L.S.

answers from Tyler on

You have definitely gotten a lot of good advice. The thing you really need to do is undersstand exactly what is going to happen at the summer camp. When they say kids are relegated to the shallow end if they can't swim, what does that mean? How deep is the shallow end? Do they have a dedicated life guard at that end? At the very least, I think you need to insist that your kids have floaties or a life vest on during the swim time period.

Honestly, my son is 6 and he has been taking swim lessons since he was 3. He is not very coordinated and he was afraid of the water. So I would say that he is JUST now getting comfortable in the water where I feel like he would actually know what to do if he fell in or was in water too deep. But, I still have my doubts that he would be able to remember what to do. So, I think you have very legitimate concerns about their safety and you need to find out exactly what the protocols are there.

I know this is not exactly the same, but my son goes to a camp where they have horseback riding. I told them my son would not go anywhere near a horse (very afraid of them) and they said that they would do something else with him during that time period.

Good luck!
L.

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C.S.

answers from Las Vegas on

Check with your community center for swim safety classes. Sometimes they are free or not quite as expensive.

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