We’ve all heard the saying about turning obstacles into opportunities. Camp Cathedral at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis is a good example. Summer camp, a unique environment, must be carefully organized to give kids the best experiences in designated blocks of time. For some, that makes fitting in a structured program like Safe Sitter® more difficult but not impossible, if you know how to be creative. That’s just what this school’s camp did, and according to Site Coordinator Anthony Ernst, “Our challenge has actually become one of our strengths as a program!”
The challenge arose when Camp Cathedral wanted to offer Safe Sitter® over the course of five days for three hours a day rather than the standard six or 12 hours over one or two days. That left extra time that needed to be filled, but how best to fill it? That’s where the camp’s clever idea of building on students’ Safe Sitter® experience was born. “We have actually been able to make better use of the time by allowing our Safe Sitter® participants to be observers in some of our other camp offerings which operate at the same time as Safe Sitter® camps,” said Anthony, the director of summer programs at Cathedral.
Cathedral offers a number of camps for grades K-9 so they have lots of students on site each day participating in different programs. This presents a great opportunity for older kids who are taking Safe Sitter® to work with younger kids. “We discuss with our Safe Sitter® campers the strategies that the program presents for dealing with challenges in child care, and they even get a few times during our five days to interact beyond observation with our younger campers and put into action some of these strategies,” Anthony said.
Because Cathedral offers over 95 different sports and enrichment camps, Anthony has the opportunity to interact with many students and he sees just how much of an impact the Safe Sitter® program has on participants over the course of the week. “I believe that the best thing about Safe Sitter® is that our students complete the camp experience more confident and prepared to be great sitters,” he said. “There is quite a dramatic change in the overall feel of the students from day 1 to day 5!”
Those who teach Safe Sitter® also know that such a positive change is not temporary. The experience stays with students—not just in the confidence they gain but in their lifelong appreciation of the program. This is why many graduates go on to teach Safe Sitter® as adults. Graduates make some of the best Instructors, as Anthony can attest!
During the 2015 Camp Cathedral season, Sami Toth, a Cathedral High School alumnus and Safe Sitter® graduate, trained as an Instructor so she could teach campers the same life and safety skills that she’d been taught years ago. Anthony had the chance to observe Sami as she taught, sharing her Safe Sitter® experiences with campers and discussing the challenges and rewards of being a “sitter in training.” Students surely gain something special hearing from someone not much older than themselves who have been where they are.
“What a great gift that Sami then had the pleasure of instructing future Safe Sitters from her own experiences!” Anthony said.