Information for Parents on BuddhaDharmaSangha Camp
Here are a few thoughts about bringing your child(ren) to the camp, what we would like to ask of you as parents and what we ask of the children.
We aim to create an experience of healthy, inclusive and vibrant community for everyone and we especially honour the place children hold in this.
The children’s activities are facilitated by our 16 member children’s team who are a very dedicated and creative group of people. Our ethos is to fully include children and place them at the heart of the camp. The site itself is a wonderful natural adventure playground.
We expect about 35-40 children from across the age range of 3-17 years old at the camp. They are offered two sessions of facilitated activity every day coinciding with the main practice sessions. These run from 10am-12pm and 3.15-5.15pm.
We ask that as parents you drop them off and pick them up as promptly as possible. If the weather is hot please also make sure they have sun protection and are hydrated before coming. If the weather is the opposite please make sure that they have rain-coats, wet weather shoes and some dry, warm clothes.
On the first full day of camp there will be a meeting of all parents and all children with the children’s team at 9.30 am. This is an important meeting which enables some basic information and guidelines to be communicated, for everyone to see which child belongs with which parent and for you as parent to meet the team.
There is a clear boundary to the site which you will get to see on the first day and we ask that no child leaves the site without parental consent.
Safeguarding on BDS Camp
This year we in the process of creating a Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy, and we have two Safeguarding officers – Brad and Jacky Garratt (on Kids Team). The role of the Safeguarding Officers is to be available if there are concerns about the risk or actual harm of children or vulnerable adults taking place on the camp. We will explain more at the camp and introduce both safeguarding officers. Should you have any concerns of this nature – please speak to the safeguarding officers.
Parental Responsibility for Children on Camp
In reviewing these policies and procedures, we have also looked at the issue of parental responsibility and concluded that children ultimately remain the responsibility of their parents, even if participating in Kids Team activities.
In past years, the Kids Team has in effect accepted parental responsibility for some children, at parental request – so called “non-wanderers”. This will no longer be on offer. It has proved impossible in practice for Kids Team members who are running sessions in our wide open space to keep physical contact with, or track the whereabouts and safety, of individual children.
If children are not deemed old enough or responsible enough to be on the field in the absence of parental supervision, parents need to arrange supervision for their children with someone who is willing and able to take on this role in their absence.
The above notwithstanding, the camp engenders a culture of compassion and communal support, within which all camp members aspire to help one another, child or adult, as necessary. This general vigilance is part of camp and a great support to everyone, in particular to parents, who know children are held and kept safe in this way within the community.
Coming with a child that is under 3 years old can be challenging especially if you are a single parent as the children’s activities are for the 3+. In some sessions we are happy for babies and toddlers to come with their parents but if your child is unsettled we ask that you remove them as this can be disruptive and stressful. If you are a parent of an under three and new to camps or camping it is worth giving us a call before you book.
We ask that children from the age of seven belong to the small groups which form part of the structure of camp life, helping out alongside adults with cooking and maintenance, tending the fire and chopping wood. In this way children are integrated into the community and both adults and children benefit from children’s active contribution to camp life.
In our experience it can deepen the feeling of belonging and contributing which (although there might be a bit of resistance at first!) ultimately really serves the children.
Food at camp
We offer good quality vegetarian meals and do not distinguish between adult and child food. For all main meals we make sure there are some additional finger foods items available for children and plain foods e.g. pasta without sauce and occasional “extras” such as grated cheese. Fresh fruit, bread, crackers and spreads are available throughout the day and the children’s team often provide additional snacks during sessions. If your child has very specific dietary needs beyond what we can offer we ask that you bring those foods with you.
The camp creates a culture of safety and consideration for others. We have a camp gathering at midday in our big yurt, to which all adults and children are invited. This is a chance to be together as a whole camp, hear about what will be happening that day, hear from the various areas of the camp like the children’s activities. We ask that if you have a young one who is upset or disruptive during this meeting to please simply take them outside for a while until they have settled down.
A second area worth mentioning is the kitchen. Here you will find a constant supply of bread, crackers, spreads and fruit, however children are expected to either be accompanied by a responsible adult or can clear up after themselves.
Please support your child to develop responsible habits e.g. putting lids back on jars, not dipping fingers into food containers (scoops/spoons are provided) and cleaning up after themselves.
Thanks and we look forward to being with you and your child(ren) on Camp.