OPINION: Let camps hire mental health professionals

kids in lake

BY ALICIA SKOVERA | With camp beginning at the end of June, children attending New York summer camps who have mental health issues won’t be getting the care they need and deserve. Under current law, New York camp directors are unable to hire mental health practitioners to address the myriad of mental health problems campers arrive at camp with each summer.

In May, the Senate Democratic majority passed legislation, S.3834-M, to support children’s mental health and physical well-being by allowing licensed professionals to be hired at children’s summer camps. The New York State Camp Directors Association (NYSCDA) urges the Assembly to pass its version of the bill, A.3074 -Aso summer camps, just like schools, are able to employ social workers and mental health practitioners.

Kids should have all the resources available to ensure they have a great summer camp experience. (Courtesy NYSCDA)

As a New York camp director and the president of the New York State Camp Directors Association, I have seen firsthand the harmful effects campers with various mental health issues suffer when they don’t receive the appropriate services while attending camp. No child should be denied the support he or she needs due to an archaic law preventing camp directors from hiring licensed professionals.

With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting that every one in five children in the U.S. experiences a mental disorder, it’s imperative to New York camp directors that children attending their camps are provided with the safest experience possible.

Bordering states allow camp directors to hire licensed professionals, as do schools. Children attending New York camps deserve the same care from licensed professionals as they get while in school or at camps in adjacent states.

Skovera is president, New York State Camp Directors Association