Every year, there are underage young people who wish to stay on the campground during Apostolic Faith camp meeting conventions, though their parents are not attending. The following guidelines have been established for such situations.
If a child is twelve years or older, regularly attends the Apostolic Faith Church, and has the permission of his/her parents and pastor to stay on the campground under the supervision of an approved guardian, the child may be permitted to do so. (A pastor may grant an exception regarding the age requirement if this restriction disqualifies a young person who is close to the required age and otherwise eligible to attend.)
Guardians must be over the age of twenty-one, regularly attend the Apostolic Faith Church, and be staying on the campground during the time the young person will be there. They should fully understand the responsibilities of guardianship, be committed to following the guidelines established by the Apostolic Faith organization, and be approved by their pastor.
We recommend that any prospective guardian who is not an authorized worker in the Apostolic Faith Church be given a copy of the Apostolic Faith Church Volunteer Handbook and be asked to read it. This document provides necessary information regarding child/youth safety policies and the organizational response to any allegations of abuse.
Guardians cannot accept responsibility for more than two underage individuals during the same period of time at the camp meeting.
The guardian should encourage the young person in his/her care to view camp meeting primarily as a time for spiritual growth. The guardian is expected to be aware of the young person’s whereabouts at all times, whether on or off the campground. He/she will inform the parents of any accident or medical emergency involving the young person, and will keep them informed of the care being administered to their child in such an event. He/she should also ensure that the young person fulfills the responsibilities of minors (listed below).
Young people who stay on the campground under the supervision of a guardian are expected to:
The following guidelines must be observed by those in attendance:
The Apostolic Faith organization has a zero tolerance policy for any sexually inappropriate behavior; this includes any physical, verbal, or visual misconduct. Lewd speech, inappropriate touching or gestures, and possession of sexually-oriented materials such as magazines, books, cards, images, videos, etc. are strictly prohibited. All attendees at the camp meeting must be fully aware that even borderline sexually inappropriate conduct will result in immediate removal from the camp.
The following actions on the part of campers are also prohibited, and could result in removal from the camp meeting:
Campers are asked to dress modestly and appropriately for a church camp. Tank tops, shorts, or cutoffs are not acceptable for teenage boys. Low necklines, extremely short-sleeved tops or dresses, short skirts, pants, or shorts are not acceptable for teenage girls. It is the responsibility of the guardian to ensure that the young person he/she is supervising adheres to these guidelines.
The Apostolic Faith organization is committed to providing a safe, secure environment for children and their families, so we make every effort to safeguard the children who have been entrusted to our care. We have zero tolerance for abuse in church programs and activities. It is the responsibility of every staff member and volunteer in the Apostolic Faith work to act in the best interest of all children in every program.
While suspicions or knowledge of abuse are extremely difficult situations, we do not have discretion in this matter: we are legally obligated to immediately fulfill our responsibilities in accordance with state requirements. According to Oregon law (the state in which this organization is registered as a corporation), mandatory reporters include ministers and school teachers, along with law enforcement personnel and medical professionals. (Oregon Statutes: ORS 419B.005, ORS 12.117) For that reason, staff members or volunteers who observe any policy violations or suspected abuse, or receive an allegation of abuse, must immediately report the matter to their ministry supervisor or the pastor.
Definition of Abuse
In general, the term “child abuse” refers to any injury to a minor not caused by accident, which results in observable and substantial impairment of a child’s ability to function, including any injury which appears to be at variance with the explanation given of the injury. This includes sexual abuse or exploitation, negligence, maltreatment, or threatened harm to a child.
Staff members and volunteers should have a basic understanding of the characteristics of sexual predators and their behaviors in “grooming” a child for sexual abuse. Grooming is the process used by an abuser to select a child, win the child’s trust (and the trust of the child’s parent or “gatekeeper”), manipulate the child into sexual activity, and keep the child from disclosing the abuse.
The Apostolic Faith maintains a legally-approved risk management
policy regarding children and youth. The following procedures are strictly enforced:
The Apostolic Faith reserves the right to immediately dismiss any volunteer or employee who is accused of violating the procedures and guidelines established by the organization.
Failure to report a prohibited act to the designated person is a violation of policy and grounds for termination of employment of an employee of the church. Volunteers who fail to report a prohibited act may be restricted from participation in any church activities involving children or youth.
What to Report
Reasonable grounds to report suspected abuse exist if:
Steps in Reporting
If a child or young person discloses that he/she is being abused, or his/her actions suggest that abuse is occurring, staff and volunteers are instructed to take the following steps:
Organizational Response to Allegations of Abuse
When the pastor receives credible information suggesting that abuse has occurred, he will immediately contact Children’s Services Division or the appropriate law enforcement agency in the state. He will also inform the Superintendent General of the allegation. The church will coordinate its internal investigation with the governmental entity involved.
A designated church representative will interact with legal counsel and insurance representatives, and will respond as directed to questions from the media concerning allegations of abuse or neglect. Other staff members should refrain from comment. During the investigation, the alleged abuser will not participate in any church activities involving minors.
If the internal or external investigation results in credible evidence supporting the allegations, the pastor will impose appropriate disciplinary restrictions, which may range from dismissal from duty to barring from church attendance.
If, after assuming the responsibility, the guardian should prove unsuitable or is unable to fulfill his/her duties, the minor’s parents and pastor will be notified and the guardianship agreement terminated. At that point, the minor will be expected to move from the campground unless a suitable replacement guardian can be approved by the parents and pastor. If the minor does not uphold his/her part of the agreement, the child’s pastor will contact the parents and take whatever steps are necessary to rectify the situation.