Our Response to Abuse and Child Safety

Tragically, more than 12 years ago, one of our staff members was accused and convicted for abusing campers. We were devastated by the deceptive practices of this individual, and continue to grieve with the victims and their families. We’ve said it before and will continue to say it again and again, we are forever sorry for the pain inflicted on victims and their families.

 

Any act of abuse is absolutely deplorable and stands counter to Kanakuk’s beliefs. Although there were many measures in place to prevent such a tragedy that were consistent and compliant with then-current industry recommendations, this individuals’ deception of family, friends, Kanakuk, and our camp families was deep.

 

Our comprehensive Child Protection Plan was created as a result of this tragedy, and has been rigorously followed each summer since. It has more than 340 identifiable and measurable protective elements that make it more complete, inclusive and reliable than the background checks that are often relied upon in summer camp hiring practices. The CPP goes beyond the background checks to prevent, detect and respond to physical, emotional, verbal, and sexual abuse in children’s programming, and has been shared with over 600 youth serving organizations across the country.

 

Investigations following the events of 2009 have determined that no one at Kanakuk knew that any criminal activity was being committed, and no charges for failure to report were ever filed against any Kanakuk staff. Detecting warning signs and educating campers and staff on appropriate behavior and the consequences of misconduct is now the foundation of Kanakuk’s Child Protection Plan.

 

We believe victims of abuse should never have to endure secrecy, cover ups or dismissal, so we have taken the approach of listening and responding to families as our utmost priority. The Kanakuk name is not more important than the hearts and lives of individuals. Forgiveness and healing are not immediate things, and thus we will say it again, we are forever sorry.

Helpful Tools and Resources

Questions? Email Us.

Reporting Hotline: USA and Canada: 833-401-0002

Frequently Asked Questions

I read specific details of accounts of misconduct online. Is all of it true?

Tragically, in 2009, we learned that one of our former full-time staff members, Pete Newman, had been abusing kids. We were devastated by the depth of his deception and continue to grieve with the victims and their families. We have listened to victims and their families and stand with them in solidarity, understanding that victims of abuse should never have to endure secrecy, cover-ups, or dismissal. We take their stories seriously. They are the ones who have opened our eyes to the greater needs of the organization, which resulted in the Kanakuk Child Protection Plan and increased safety measures that have allowed us to continue safely welcoming thousands of campers each summer.

I have read that Kanakuk forced victims to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA’s) is this true?

Recent articles have accused Kanakuk of using Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) to hide details of abuse and silence victims. This is simply not the case. The awful details of what transpired is part of the public record. The criminal component was equally public and local television stations and newspapers covered this for many months. Kanakuk’s focus is on supporting victims’ privacy and healing. The overwhelming majority of confidentiality agreements were established in cooperation with the victim to protect their privacy.

Why hasn’t Kanakuk spoken out about this before?

We responded immediately to the tragic incidents by holding ongoing conversations with the victims and their families and taking action to create the Kanakuk Child Protection Plan (CPP). We’ve traveled the country sharing what happened here, and the steps we’ve taken to help prevent this from occurring again. More than 600 organizations have been trained in the CPP to date. We’ve maintained that defending ourselves publicly in the press was not in the best interest of victims and their families, and their desire for privacy and healing remains our first concern.

Why didn’t Kanakuk take immediate action?

As soon as abuse was reported, we took immediate steps that led to the termination and reporting of the individual involved. We immediately began conversations with victims and their families and set out to elevate our safety practices, which resulted in the Kanakuk Child Protection Plan. Investigations following the events of 2009 have determined that no one at Kanakuk knew that any criminal activity was being committed, and no charges for failure to report were ever filed against any Kanakuk staff.

Does this staff member still work at Kanakuk?

No, this staff member was swiftly terminated and reported to the authorities by Kanakuk. Any form of abuse of a child is deplorable and stands counter to our beliefs.

Was this the only time this type of thing happened?

In 2011, a summer staff member acted inappropriately with some of our campers. These campers immediately reported the suspicious actions of the staff member. These actions were against Kanakuk policies, and the individual was immediately terminated and reported to authorities.

Is my child safe?

We believe that Kanakuk is the safest place to be. We have been serving kids and families for more than 96 years. We’ve seen over 500,000 campers and more than 50,000 summer staff come through these gates, and our goal is always to provide a safe, welcoming summer home to generations of families. We rigorously follow our Kanakuk Child Protection Plan, which is the standard in child protection for youth-serving organizations. Our trained directors and staff are dedicated to facilitating fun activities and fostering safe experiences, whether your child is joining us for one, two or four weeks of fun. From protocols regarding slippery surfaces, inclement weather and facilities safety to the prevention of abuse through Kanakuk’s 3 Rules and 6 Boundaries, the safety conversation with our staff begins in the interview process and is built into the fabric of who we are as an organization.

We are committed to our vision that today’s young adults are the Christian leaders of tomorrow, and we will continue to advocate for their safety as they grow in friendships, faith and confidence. Every child’s safety is our No. 1 priority.