As any parent knows, leaving your child at stay-away camp can be anxiety provoking. It seems like a lot can go wrong. But there are things you can do ahead of time to protect your kids while they’re away—and ease your mind.
Ask these questions before you pick a camp.
- What’s the ratio of nurses to campers? Is there a doctor on staff?
- How far is the nearest hospital?
- Is a CPR-certified lifeguard monitoring the pool at all times?
- How do camp counselors make sure the campers are drinking enough water and not becoming overheated?
- Are the camp’s facilities and emergency plans in order and approved by the appropriate regulatory organizations?
- How do the staffers and camp directors treat allergic reactions, illness and even homesickness?
Make sure camp directors and staff know your child’s medical history and needs.
- If your child has special health needs because of Type 1 Diabetes, asthma or another condition, make sure the staff knows beforehand and has a plan to protect him or her.
- Get your child a water-proof medical ID bracelet to identify allergies or medical needs. Send a back-up in case the first one is lost or stolen.
- Consider a specialized camp, like those at Camp Aldersgate, if your child needs close monitoring.
Pack anything your child may need to stay healthy.
- Send plenty of bug spray and sunscreen.
- Bug spray should be at least 20% DEET, according to the CDC.1
- Sunscreen should be at least SPF 15. Above SPF 30 is ideal.
- Buy travel-sized bottles of sunscreen and bug spray. Use carabiner clips to attach to camp nametags/lanyards for easy access to reapply regularly.
- Pack light-colored, breathable clothes like athletic wear to help prevent heat exhaustion.
- Make a list of medications your child may need throughout camp and follow it when packing.
- Don’t forget things like an EpiPen (plus back-ups), inhaler, insulin, ADD medications, etc.
- Add anti-itch cream, Neosporin, a small first aid kit.
Make sure your kids know the safety must-do’s!
- Explain water and sun safety and the importance of applying sunscreen. Remind them to reapply it every two hours.
- Teach them how and when to perform tick checks.
- Under arms, around ears, in the belly button, and anywhere else a tick could hide.
- Every night before bed, to help prevent diseases carried by ticks.
- Make sure your child swims well and stress the importance of wearing a life jacket!
See Keeping Kids Safe at Summer Camp at WebMD.com.