An unusual boot camp

Published 7:49 pm Saturday, August 14, 2010

Some teenage girls go to the movies during the summer.

Others go to boot camp, babysitting boot camp.

For two days, 11 girls participated in the Suffolk American Red Cross’s Babysitting Boot Camp, where they learned various lifesaving and babysitting skills and earned four certifications.

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“Students learn how to be good leaders, role models, identify ways to respect diversity among children and come up with good decision-making techniques,” Suffolk American Red Cross health and safety coordinator Lisa Harrell said. “They learn so many skills to help their babysitting careers and to be more responsible, informed citizens.”

The boot camp is held once a year, with additional classes as requested.

“Students get four certifications for $40,” Harrell said. “With the business they bring in, the course will practically pay for itself.”

By the end of camp, students receive “Be Red Cross Ready” disaster training, water safety training, standard first aid and babysitting training certifications.

In the disaster readiness training classes, students learn how to safely respond to a natural disaster.

“Whether there’s a fire, gas leak or tornado, it prepares the children how to respond,” Harrell said. “They also put together a first aid kit with gauze, Band-Aids, cloths, notepads and flashlights. They’re able to take it home and personalize it to suit their needs.”

Water safety training teaches students how to be safe around water and how to identify potential hazards for children they’re babysitting.

“They learned how to put on life vests and that a baby can drown in something as shallow as a bathtub,” Harrell said.

A class that really drew the students in was the first aid, where they tied each other up with gauze wrap.

“They were practicing what to do in case someone got a broken bone,” Harrell said. “They also learned how to control bleeding and sprained muscles and treat illnesses like diabetes, seizures and stroke.”

Their final course covered topics like how to feed and hold a baby and how to work with children from different backgrounds.

“Children won’t always be babysitting for families that have all the same beliefs and cultures they were raised with,” Harrell said. “For example, we had students who were homeschooled, public-schooled and private-schooled. We allowed them to express their ideas about different things. It helps them relate better to the children and even their peers. No two families are the same.”

For any questions on how to set up a babysitting boot camp with your group, contact Harrell at 539-6645.