Conduct Policies

Staff Conduct Policy

This policy is instituted to ensure that OPERS Youth Camps (OYC) counselors and staff conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the professional standards of OPERS and that the OYC counselors and staff uphold the policies and procedures of the Office of Physical Education, Recreation and Sports (OPERS) at University of California, Santa Cruz. Further, this policy is intended to ensure that the campers experience an environment in which their physical and emotional needs are recognized and where threats to their emotional and physical security do not exist.

Sammy Slug Summer Camp counselors and staff affirm by signature their familiarity with this policy and their agreement to abide by its tenets upon the penalty of removal from the program.

  1. OYC staff and counselors must use positive techniques of guidance. This means including redirection, positive reinforcement and encouragement when interacting with campers, rather than competition, comparison and criticism. Staff and counselors shall have age appropriate expectations and set up guidelines and environments that minimize the need for discipline. Physical restraint is used only in predetermined administered situations (necessary to protect the child or other children from harm) and must be documented by an incident report.
  2. Camp staff and counselors shall respond to children with respect and consideration, regardless of the child’s sex, race, religion, culture, or ability (ex: if a biologically male campers prefers to by she/her, you will refer to that camper as she/her).
  3. Camp staff and counselors shall respect children’s rights not to be touched in ways that make them feel uncomfortable.  Staff and counselors shall respect a child’s right to say “no.”
  4. Camp staff and counselors shall refrain from intimate displays of affection towards others in the presence of children and parents.
  5. Using, possessing, or being under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs during camp is prohibited.
  6. Profanity, inappropriate jokes, sharing intimate details of one’s personal life, and any kind of harassment is prohibited.
  7. Camp staff and counselors shall portray positive role modeling for youth by maintaining an attitude of respect, loyalty, patience, courtesy, tact, and maturity.
  8. Camp staff and counselors must not date any child (camper or volunteer) who participates in OYC programs – before, during, or after camp.
  9. Verbal abuse, in the form of harsh or insulting language may result in humiliation and have a negative psychological impact on a child.  It is to be avoided.  Deliberately ignoring or ostracizing a camper, while not abusive in the traditional sense, also must be avoided.
  10. Camp staff and counselors may be guilty of child abuse or improper/unwise conduct by:
    1. Pulling or twisting hair, ears, etc;
    2. Grabbing, shoving, poking, or pinching campers or volunteers;
    3. Holding, caressing, stroking, or tickling campers or volunteers;
    4. Sitting with a child on lap;
    5. Allowing a child to lie on any part of the body;
    6. Touching, patting, or placing hands anywhere except shoulder or back;
    7. Kissing;
    8. Carrying a child, except in case of injury or trauma;
    9. Allowing children to cling physically or become attached emotionally.
  11. Camp staff must always consider the possible consequences of their actions.
  12. Camp staff must be aware of their peers’ behavior toward campers and camper behavior toward them.  When staff observe improper conduct, they should remind their peers about the campers’ welfare and report to the Camp Director.

Things NOT to do:

  • Do not close or lock doors when alone with just one camper;
  • Do not drive a camper home alone in a private vehicle;
  • Do not visit campers’ homes without an invitation and the approval of the parent/guardian and camp director;
  • Do not meet a camper alone in an isolated area, a closed space or just about anywhere out of sight of another staff or counselor;
  • Do not share, listen to, or allow off-color or offensive jokes; do not use sexual language.
  • Do not make physical contact in any of the following ways: full-frontal hugs; kisses; lap sitting; wrestling; piggyback rides; tickling; allowing clinging to staff body parts; any type of massage; touching bottom, chest, or genital area; any unwanted form of attention.

Things TO do:

  • Maintain comfortable, professional relationships with campers so they feel comfortable sharing with you.
  • Make appropriate physical contact in any of the following ways: side hugs; pats on the shoulder or back, head if culturally appropriate; handshakes; high fives and hand slapping; touching hands, shoulders, and arms; holding hands (with young minors in escorting situations). 

Appropriate staff contact outside of camp is as follows:

  • Taking groups of minors on an outing.
  • Attending sporting activities with a group of minors.
  • Attending functions at a minor's home with parents present.
  • Sending postcards to the minor's home.

Inappropriate staff contact outside of camp is as follows:

  • Taking one minor on an outing without the parent's permission.
  • Visiting one minor in the minor's home, without a parent present.
  • Entertaining one minor in the home of an OPERS employee or volunteer.
  • A lone minor spending the night with an OPERS employee or volunteer.

Camper Discipline Code

The goals of the OPERS Youth Camps Camper Discipline Code are:

  1. To ensure the safety and well being of all campers;
  2. To ensure that all campers benefit from the OPERS Youth Camp experience;
  3. To ensure that every camper has the opportunity to complete the program in a fashion suitable to his or her developmental level;
  4. To enable all campers to manage their social behavior;
  5. To create a framework for cooperative effort between campers and staff.

Campers will be responsible for:

  1. Their relations with camp staff, counselors, and peers;
  2. Their compliance with camp procedures and practices.

OPERS Youth Camps Counselors and Staff will be responsible for:

  1. Creating and implementing a program of sports education and recreation which maximizes the opportunity for campers to achieve success;
  2. Working cooperatively with campers to facilitate their success in sports and recreational activities;
  3. Ensuring that OPERS Youth Camps rules are frequently reviewed with and clearly understood by campers;
  4. Demonstrating consistency and reliability in implementing the behavior expectation code and discipline code;
  5. Respecting and protecting the rights of all campers during the program.

The behavior expectations for campers are to:

  1. Follow the safety rules of camp;
  2. Cooperate with other campers and staff;
  3. Respect the rights and property of others;
  4. Listen and follow instructions;
  5. Participate in all activities.

The OYC counselors and staff will provide leadership, guidance and assistance to all campers in meeting their behavior expectations.  Campers who choose to behave in a socially appropriate manner will maximize the benefits they receive from the camping experience.  The OPERS Youth Camps staff will be sensitive to each child’s needs; will work with each child individually to alleviate fears and concerns; will structure programs and activities to meet the abilities and needs of each child; and will exercise patience and sensitivity toward campers’ behavior.

OPERS Youth Camps counselors and staff understand that children may misbehave and that the majority of those misbehaviors will be minor or inconsequential.  Sometimes a child’s misbehavior may be serious enough to warrant the OPERS Youth Camps staff and counselor’s intervention.  The following are some examples of serious misbehavior at camp:

  1. Social misbehavior:
    1. Swearing;
    2. Refusing to follow instructions, directions or safety rules;
    3. Bullying other campers;
    4. Harassing other campers by teasing, name-calling or playing with their possessions.
  2. Group misbehavior
    1.  Refusing to follow instructions, directions or safety rules;
    2.  Disrupting the program process;
    3.  Refusing to participate in program activities;
    4.  Harassing other campers during program activities by pushing, shoving, swearing and intimidating.

Dismissal Policy

OPERS Youth Camps (OYC) is interested in the welfare of all children. OYC participants are expected to follow the rules of the program and obey the direction of the staff.  A child’s failure or inability to follow rules or obey direction causes a discipline issue.  A serious disciplinary issue may also occur when a child hampers the smooth flow of the OYC programs by requiring; constant one-on-one attention; inflicting physical or emotional harm on other children; abusing staff or demonstrating an inability to conform to the rules and guidelines of the OYC program.  If a child becomes a serious discipline problem, the staff directly supervising the camper must report to the coordinator and camp director. The camp director will notify the parents/guardians of the situation and discuss a solution.  If improvement does not occur, or a solution cannot be determined, the camp director may recommend that a child be dismissed from the program. The camp director will discuss the situation with appropriate staff, decide who will discuss the dismissal procedure with the parents, and proceed with the dismissal.  Acceptance into the program is conditioned on the above policy, as is the right to dismiss a child from the program.

Dismissal Procedures

A participant may be dismissed from the program due to disruptive behavior, illness, or injury. Children are entitled to a pleasant and harmonious environment at OYC.  The program cannot serve children who display chronically or severe disruptive behavior.  Chronically disruptive behavior is defined as verbal or physical activity, which may include but is not limited to such behavior that:

  • Requires constant attention from the staff.
  • Inflicts physical or emotional harm on children or staff.
  • Displays destructive behavior.
  • Continually ignores or disobeys OYC safety rules.
  • Includes use or possession of illegal drugs, weapons, or explosives.

Efforts will be made to assist children in adjusting to the program setting.  If a child cannot adjust to the program setting and behave inappropriately, then the child may be dismissed. Dismissal due to illness or injury will be at the discretion of the OYC program director.  This may include, but is not limited to contagious diseases and extended illnesses. Prior to finalizing the decision to dismiss a child from the OYC, the following steps will be taken by the program professional staff:

  • Document the situation(s), actions taken and write an incident report to be submitted to OYC professional staff.
  • Notify specified parent/guardian person.
  • Explain the situation and the current status of the child in the group or separation from the group (in severe situations) to the parent/guardian, so they know what the child will be doing while they are waiting to go home.
  • Make and agree upon arrangements for removal from the program including time, who will pick up child, mode of transportation.
  • Obtain the signature of specified parent or contact person at time of release from camp.
  • Share the OYC expectations with the parents if the child desires to return to camp the next year.