Safety & MESSH Policies - Universal Camp Staff Handbook 2023

For Culturally Competent, Mentally Healthy, & Trauma-Informed Summer Camps

LEAD’s Universal Camp Staff Handbook is designed as a digital toolkit for camp professionals to download, adapt, and customize for their staff and community. This digital product challenges handbook norms and encourages camps to reflect on the purpose of each policy and guideline, as well as the consequences of exclusive and outdated policies within the industry.

LEAD’s Universal Camp Staff Handbook features trauma-informed, culturally competent, and anti-racist commentary on sections typically found in a camp staff handbook. LEAD’s recommended policies and best practices are informed by and based on our inclusive LEAD and Guest Contributor lenses to utilize in your distinctive community.

A full list of the Universal Camp Staff Handbook's Primary Authors & Guest Contributors, responsible for 600+ hours of policy evaluation, consolidation, and best practice incorporation, can be found here.


Table of Contents of "Safety & MESSH Policies"

  1. Intro to LEAD’s Universal Camp Staff Handbook
    1. How to Use This Toolkit
  2. Safety & MESSH Policies
    1. Mental, Emotional, Social, & Spiritual Health (MESSH)
    2. Psychological and Emotional Safety
    3. Creating Safer Spaces
    4. Community MESH
      1. On-Site Support
      2. Responding to Atypical Behavior
    5. Burnout Prevention
      1. What is Burnout?
      2. Talking About Mental Health
      3. Proactive Self-Care
  3. MESSH Challenges
    1. Home-Missing (AKA Homesickness)
    2. Interpersonal Challenges
      1. Anxiousness About Socializing/Loneliness
      2. Romantic Relationships
      3. Managing Expectations and Navigating Disappointment in Young Campers
      4. Bullying
    1. Mental Illness at Camp
    1. Mental Health Crises
      1. Panic Attacks
      2. Non-Suicidal Self Injury (NSSI)
      3. Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors
      4. Passive vs. Active Suicidal Ideation
      5. Tools and Methods for Support
  4. Substance Use
    1. What Are Drugs?
    2. Harm Reduction
      1. Substance-Specific Strategies
      2. Why Is This Relevant to You?
    3. Drug Policy & Discussion
    4. Medications (Mx)
      1. Sample Permission Forms
      2. Mx Administration
      3. Mx Vacations (“Drug Holidays”)
  5. Appendix
    1. Sample Medical Forms
    2. References

Your Instructor


LEAD, Inc.
LEAD, Inc.

Let's Empower, Advocate, and Do, Inc. (LEAD) is the industry leader in mental health education, committed to providing training and curriculum to strengthen mental health literacy, promote lifelong well-being, and build community resilience.

LEAD’s Promise: LEAD empowers individuals with no-fluff mental health education to proactively improve their wellbeing and strengthen their workplace communities.
LEAD provides individuals with practical skills, tools, and strategies to prevent mental health crises and improve the wellbeing of unique workplace communities. LEAD’s evidence-based courses and practical resources move “beyond talk” with their tangible takeaways, moving the needle on critical competencies and building resilience in professionals through hands-on curricula.
Learn more by visiting our website at www.LEADnow.org.

Course Curriculum


  LEAD's Universal Camp Staff Handbook
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