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Babysitter Boot Camp instills confidence

January 03, 2009|By JANET HEIM

HAGERSTOWN -- A good baby sitter is priceless, as parents of young children know.

A current TV commercial emphasizes that point as one mother desperate to find a baby sitter offers a vacation to the friend who will part with the name of their baby sitter. It is with great reluctance that a phone number finally is shared.

A crop of local baby sitters could find themselves in demand after the training they received at the Washington County Red Cross Babysitter Boot Camp this summer. A recent boot camp was held Monday through Wednesday.

The training, which is held three times per year locally, is open to boys and girls ages 11 to 15 for a fee. A gift certificate for the Babysitter's Training class also can be purchased.

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Students learn to administer basic first aid, how to properly hold and feed a child, how and when to take emergency action, how to monitor safe play and actively engage the children in their care, and infant and child CPR, according to a press release.

The training program is taught by Rachael Rohrer, whose textbook is the American Red Cross "Babysitter's Training Handbook."

Several of the girls who took the summer class said they would like to retake it to keep up their skills and because they had fun. They said they worked with a high-tech baby that cries and has a mechanism to monitor how the baby was treated.

Program participants also learn how to safely market themselves once their training is complete.

On the last day of their class, following a test that included entertaining a real baby, the participants were treated to a water balloon fight and pizza party.

The recent "graduates" received a textbook and an official card upon completion of the program, as well as a first aid kit, backpack and flashlight. Many had prior experience watching younger siblings, cousins or neighbors, but usually in the presence of other adults.

"Having the knowledge to watch them by ourselves is helpful," said 13-year-old Olivia Baker, an eighth-grader at Springfield Middle School.

Angie Baker, Olivia's mother, said that whenever they have family and friends over, it is Olivia who entertains the children. While she trusted Olivia's ability as a baby sitter, she feels better knowing she's trained to handle emergency situations.

"She knows more at 13 than I knew at 27 when I brought my first baby home," Angie Baker said.

Deb Lanham, Randi Bartlett's mother, said the course was a good confidence booster for her daughter, who is a freshman at South Hagerstown High School. She said Randi is more comfortable around her cousins since taking the class.

"I would recommend the class," Randi Bartlett said. "It's really hard work. At the end of the day, when you know you could save someone's life, it's really rewarding. You have more confidence in yourself."

Shannon Thorhauer's daughter, Morgan, is a seventh-grader at Smithsburg Middle School. She said her daughter is more prepared to cope with an emergency than she was at the same age.

"It's important training. CPR is good to have. You never know," said Morgan Thorhauer, 12. "We did work hard, but it was fun, too."

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