As all your children go off to summer camp, we wanted to bring up some of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations prior to participating!
Day camps and resident camps are great opportunities for children to get out and be around others. Approx 14 million children attend day or resident camp during the summer. There are so many positive benefits on children’s socialization, independence and self esteem.
Picking the right camp can be hard; it is important to make sure it is best suited for your child’s interests as well as their ability to participate and emotional well being. Many programs exist for those children with disabilities or special needs. Be aware of any medical requirements and make sure appropriate health services are available at the selected camp. It is recommended that all camps adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act and make any necessary accommodations to include all campers. Camps that require a lot of physical activity may require a more in dept physical exam, such as Boy Scout camp or sports camps to ensure the safety of the children. Make sure your chosen camp is aware of any significant health history, this includes previous surgeries/injuries, medications, any allergies or dietary restrictions and mental or physical disabilities. Work with your provider to come up with an action plan to address these. All children should be up to date on immunizations prior to attending camp in order to provide a safe environment for all the children. If your child will be traveling internationally for camp, it is important to review the CDC’s guidelines for that specific area.
To help avoid your child feeling “homesick,” try to involve them in the process of picking their camp. Discuss the possibility of homesickness with them and any concerns they might have. Practice being away from home for short periods with friends or family. These can apply to day camps as well, but try to avoid a pick-up plan because this could affect the child’s confidence in his/her own independence.
Make sure to discuss ways to stay healthy with your camper! Good hand washing is key along with covering coughs and sneezes, avoiding sharing water bottles, and using insect repellent. Always send your camper with all their medications and written instructions. A protocol should be establish for safe transport of medication for any trips out of camp and ensure there is personnel to administer such medications.
Make sure the camp you choose is prepared with all the necessities to care for your child. This includes over-the-counter medications, emergency medications, an on-site AED and proper training. As a camp, they should express expectations for successful participation in the program. There are some activities which could lead to complications for specific medical conditions; these situations require a combined effort between the camp personnel, the parents and the health care providers to specify any needed accommodations and make sure they are put into place. The camp should have health care providers with specialized training in children’s health and protocols in place to address both major and minor illnesses and/or injuries. Camps should have a relationship with local providers in the event that emergency care is needed for a child. There should also be a management plan in place in the event of an outbreak of any infectious disease. For resident camps, children and staff should be screened by a health care provider upon arrival to assess potential for any communicable disease and establish a baseline health status.
The goal is to feel confident in your choice of camp for your child! Follow these guidelines to help create a safe and healthy environment for your child to enjoy their camp experience.