Swimming at Camp? No Thanks!

Updated on February 21, 2011
J.O. asks from Novi, MI
17 answers

There are many great local summer camps for my kids this summer. Some a week, others longer. Many are as short as 3 hours long. Art to nature to sports. Most (nearly all) include swimming. I don't take my 5 kids to waterparks alone b/c I do not feel comfortable watching all of them; I simply can't!

So what does a mom do who doesn't want their kid swimming at camp? The swim time is built into the camp, even art camps! All my kids can swim and are ages 4 to 12, but that has nothing to do with it.

I know of 3 kids who have died in these situations. None personally, but I know of them. Of course I want the kids busy and active this summer, but what to do about the swimming issue. I can't even picture my 4-year-old at a waterpark without me, EVEN though he'd be in the shallow area with his camp. It's a big park and there are plenty of deeper places where something could go wrong. Everything else the camp does sounds wonderful.

What can I do next?

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answers from Detroit on

I kind of agree with you, but my only suggestion is to keep looking.

The Salvation Army in Plymouth runs a summer day camp. You register by the week. They have a couple trips to a water park, but at least 5-6 weeks have no swimming.



answers from Pittsburgh on

See if you can do half day. I bet the swimming is in the afternoon so just arrange to pick them up before the swimming portion. I agree with you. I have personally witnessed a near drowning of a 7 year old who was an excellent swimmer. I watch my kids like a hawk now when they are swimming.

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answers from Chattanooga on

I know of several children who have died in car accidents... it doesn't stop me from letting my DD ride in a car. I know several people who have died and been injured riding horses, playing sports, etc. Not going to stop me from allowing my children to enjoy these activities... Prepare your children the best you can... (which, as you said they can swim, you already have.) You can try researching the camp, and see if they have ever had any safety incidents to ease your mind. You might also see if the camp will let you know when they are going to be swiming, and if it would be possible for you to be there for extra supervision.... Other than that, I would try to relax, and allow your kids to enjoy their camp. Remind yourself that not only will the camp directors be there, but the lifeguards at the water park will be too.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Nashville on

I would let them go. There are risky aspects to every part of life, and if you hold back because of what 'could' go wrong then you and your children will miss out on many amazing life moments. Some of my favorite memories are of swimming at camp... back when they allowed us to use rope swings, go out on the lake with canoes (without supervision...). We only had boy scouts as lifeguards! I think that at a water park, with lifeguards, is reasonably safe. Maybe they will allow you to participate on the swim day, and help ease your mind?

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Are they going to waterparks or just a pool? Pools and waterparks have trained lifeguards at them and the camp counselors will be there too. Your kids have a much higher likelihood of being hurt or killed in your car on the way to camp or in the camp bus on the way to some activity than they do going swimming at a pool with lifeguards and camp counselors.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

I used to work at a resident camp, and every counselor at the camp had training. Not all were certified life guards, but all received training.

Camps have swim time because the kids LOVE it! Also because it is hot, and having the kids swimming during the hottest part of the day is a very safe way to deal with the heat.

My parents sent us to camps (mostly day camps) every summer, and they all included an afternoon swim. My counselors always kept an eye on us, knew where we were, etc. I really think you can trust the camp to take the safety of campers very seriously. They have to be inspected and certified, they have rules and guidelines to follow, they have insurance to pay, they have a desire to avoid lawsuits. I really think your kids will be very safe.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Camps are set up with trained staff. They HAVE to be because they are caring for your children and they take that responsibility on.

You say your kids know how to swim. Rest assured the water areas will have staff watching everyone.

Everybody has heard a horrow story but as mom', we must learn to let go and let our children become independent people. We can't keep them under rocks all their lives and expect them to be well rounded adults at 21.

If you plan to keep them sitting out of fun activities that other kids are participating in...and them watching and knowing about this....then I say do not go to that camp. That isolation alone (other kids seeing them isolated from activities) would do more damage to their self esteem and confidence.

Just plan a camp at home and you supervise everything.

Hopefully you'll come to a solid resolution that works for everyone...

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Provo on

I personally would want them to learn how to swim so the chance of them drowning will be less.
Of course if they learn how it's not a guarantee, but it's better than them never knowing and suddenly find themselves in a situation where they will drowned.
So is there anyway that they can get lessons???
**sorry, just read it with out a screaming baby. I now get that they can swim.
I fully agree with the previous poster, YOU CAN NOT SHELTER THEM FROM EVERYTHING! As horrible as this sounds, eventually they need to break a bone to learn about life! I know the mama bear reaction which you are clearly displaying. I know it WELL, but you can not stop them from everything you are uncomfortable with. What about when they start driving?? If you are 100% against them going swimming with out you, then go just for swimming time. Don't make them be the lame kids sitting pathetically by the side of the pool wishing they were swimming.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

This is a tough situation, not sure what I would do here. Can you attend the swim portion of the camp to be an extra set of eyes on your kids? If so then you would feel better and your kids could still participate. If not, perhaps get them early that day so they don't participate or even hire a teen to go along and be an extra hand.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Saginaw on

It seems like you are being a little over cautious. I understand your fear and it is a valid fear, but you are denying your children a summer fun activity that children of all ages enjoy every summer! Its part of being a kid and enjoying life! Its unfair for you to deny them that because YOU have a fear of something happening.
Just because you know of people who have died during an activity doesn't mean that your kids have any less or more chance of it.
People die eating all the time when they choke, does that mean you shouldn't let anyone else feed your kids?
Maybe if you went and visited with the staff at the camp first and viewed everything or yourself you might feel more at ease.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sherman on

If you don't feel comfortable with them swimming then don't send them.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

I can understand how swimming can seem scary to you! When I was young, a cousin drowned in a Y pool, and I had nightmares about it. Whether my mother had similar nightmares I don't know.

Since you say your children know how to swim, I'm thinking you're concerned that they will not be supervised properly at a camp.

This is something to talk to the camp director about - and say WHY you're asking! You surely won't be the first parent to want to be sure of water safety at a camp. Double-check the camp's past accident records, and ask for references (other camper parents) to talk to.

I happen to be a great worrier (I always have good reasons, of course!), and I have to remember Robert E. Lee's statement, "Never take the counsel of your fears." Have you checked into the availability of water safety lessons for your children? Not just ordinary swim lessons, but lessons in water self-defense, as it were. For an example, my youngest granddaughter (age 1) was taken to private water safety lessons last summer, and they were worth every penny; she was trained in what to do if she were to fall into a pool with her clothing on. Her folks are being transferred (they're Army) and I hope they'll be able to find the same opportunity near their new post so their daughter can continue learning to be safe.

It's very important for your children (and you) to know how to handle yourselves anywhere, and the more confident they are, the more confident you'll be. Doing such lessons now MAY be a better plan than forbidding swimming outright at camp... because often it's exactly what you forbid that a child becomes particularly interested in doing (and for that reason).

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I'd feel the same way. My kids are all swimmers but i still want to be the one watching them. You can either not send them, go along too, or maybe you can put them in some sort of swimming life jacket at camp.



answers from Seattle on

I don't have anything new to add, just that I also would not want my kids swimming someplace not supervised by me. I only have a two year old right now so I haven't had to deal with camps yet but the time will come. I agree with the posts about maybe seeing if you can attend the camps during swim time, though that may be hard with five kids. My only other note is that I'd be careful that if you send your kids to a camp but have them sit out the swim time, be careful that that they don't feel sad about it...watching all the other kids splashing around while they are on the sidelines. Depending on their personality, it might be better not have to have them go at all. Good luck!



answers from Philadelphia on

My son went to summer camp last year and they swim everyday. He was not a good swimmer then but is now. At MOST pool there is a life guard on duty and sometimes 2 or 3 depending on the size of the pool. My feelings are a little different because i cannot swim lol. Sooooo I am acutally more petrified when they go swimming and im there



answers from Oklahoma City on

I understand your fear. It is rational because you have knowledge of this horrible thing that happened to people you know. You will need to find a different kind of activity for them. Do not use the Y or any other type camp that has water built into the curriculum. It will not be easy for you if you let them go to one. You will make yourself sick with worry all day long while they are there.

Just keep looking and you may find something like a gymnastics or dance camp, maybe music or soccer too.



answers from Lansing on

I would call the Director of the camp and express your concerns and ask lots of questions. Does the swimming take place in a lake or pool, how many kids are in the pool at a time, how many supervisors are there, are they in the pool with the kids, is there a lifeguard on duty, how deep in the pool, is there someone trained in CPR nearby? ect... I remember when I was at camp we had to pass a swim test to even swim in the deep end. Get as much information as possible and then make a decision.
I have an eight year old and a five year old and I have always been nervous was it comes to swimming, so for the past year they have been taking lessons at the YMCA and now I feel much better and more relaxed and the girls love it. It's a great way for them to exercise and they have fun doing it.

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