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Orchard Park summer rec counselors to get anti-bullying training

Children don't leave bullying and poor behavior behind at school when summer comes. It follows them to the playground and summer recreation programs.

It can be pushing and shoving, even spitting, or not including a peer in the lunch group.

Last year, one of the campers in an Orchard Park Recreation day camp made a video criticizing a counselor, and showed it to other children.

Orchard Park Recreation Director Ed Leak

"That was new to us, for us. It was very concerning, we dealt with it immediately," said Recreation Director Ed Leak.

This year the recreation program is taking steps to prevent and deal with poor behavior. Every one of the 125 summer employees will receuve six hours of training in anti-bullying by experts from the Orchard Park Central School District on June 17. They will learn strategies for dealing with bullying and practice in role playing.

"I don’t know of any other community that has had partnership like this,"  said assistant Superintendent Lisa Krueger, who is leading the training. "We've tried to partner with the community, but this is taking that partnership to a much higher level and a much deeper level in terms of really working collaboratively."

Leak said in recent years counselors have seen an increase in children engaging in verbal aggression, physical aggression, being disrespectful, not listening and refusing to join in activities. There are 450 to 500 children in recreation programs on any given day during the summer.

"We wanted to be very proactive going forward, because anything like this that got out of hand could be very detrimental going forward," he said.

Orchard Park Assistant Superintendent Lisa Krueger.

In the past, Krueger, an expert in the Olweus Bullying Prevention program, spoke to the part-time summer rec employees for about 15 minutes as part of their orientation.

Counselors range from teenagers to experienced teachers, and each had a different strategy for dealing with bad behavior.

"This is the first time with this training that everybody's going to be speaking the same language, that everyone's going to be approaching the same problem the same way," assistant recreation director Kristin Santillo said.

Parents and campers also will be asked to sign a pledge to exhibit good character. Since three-quarters or more of the children in the many day camps and aquatic programs attend Orchard Park schools, the language on character and behavior will be familiar to them.


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