Received Monday, July 19, 2010
I was at the Bronx Zoo today (7/ 19/10), along with what seemed like a billion day camp outings. While most made no impression and a couple even made very positive impression based on the counselors + campers attitudes + behaviors (Happy Dragon, Tutor Time, + Asphalt Green- I'm looking at you! You seem to have quality employees!), there were two camp groups who made me worried for the children in them. The first were all wearing shirts that read "WES JCC". Most of the campers were Hispanic or African American, as were their counselors. There was an older Caucasian woman whom I took to be perhaps the camp director. They were split in to large groups, girls in one, boys in another. The female counselors seemed competant, the male counselors not so much- although the director woman stayed with the boys it seemed. I constantly heard the male counselors cursing in front of the kids, calling them liars, complaining when a child needed to be carried (the child was judging by size maybe 5 and obviously had Down's Syndrome). I don't think the counselors were trying to be mean, but they definitely need ALOT more training, and that JCC that sponsers the daycamp should be aware- I just can't find them on the internet. The second camp was "Ohr Avner Day Camp". Just awful. They had alot of very young children- and alot of VERY young counselors. At one point, I was next to 3 little boys, no older than 6-7, who were being watched by a girl who looked about 10. Granted, she seemed kind, caring, and quite diligent- but she was 10! Watching 3 younger children by herself! In the Bronx Zoo- in NYC!!! I kept hoping the rest of the group was around the sea lion enclosure, but not so much. They were completely on their own. (And yes, I was at least a mother's helper by her age, and had even babysat alone, but a home in the suburbs 18 years ago is quite differant than NYC, so please don't jump on me for having issue with her age.) The rest of the counselors for that camp were not much older, looking on average about 14-16...shouldn't they be maybe CIT's? Not by themselves? Because they obviously needed someone who knew what they were doing + more training, because the kids were running rampant (climbing up on ledges in phone booths, running through the wooded areas of the zoo). The interactions with campers by counselors that I observed tended towards negative + loud, without giving proper guidance or discipline. Again, probably not "bad", but in definite need of more training. I know these aren't nannies, but they are childcare, and people are paying money for their services + trusting that they are being well taken care of, so I wanted to let people know that perhaps these camps are not the best.
PS- And for those that worry about it, most of the best counselors that I saw were male college aged counselors! Good work guys!