Preparing for a great summer camp experience starts well before camp begins. Before your camper starts packing their toothbrush, bathing suit and sunscreen, there are some things to take care of to ensure a healthy, happy camp experience for your child, whether they’re attending a day or overnight program. After all, that’s what camp is all about!
Most camps require a physical and up-to-date immunizations. They will provide you with a detailed list of all health related items and are ready to respond to any questions or concerns you might have. When needed, your child’s healthcare provider will conduct a physical and update your camper’s immunization record. This is also a good time to discuss any health issues your child has and the best way to proceed.
If your child takes medications regularly or has a medical condition (allergies, diabetes, ADHD, asthma), let the camp operator know so their medical and other staff are informed of both symptoms and treatment plans defined by you and your child’s physician. Be sure you understand what resources will be available at camp to assist your child, whether they need to take a prescription at regular intervals or if there’s a need for any type of attention.
Whether day or overnight, each camp should have a robust healthcare plan for their campers and staff. The American Camp Association (ACA) has prepared a series of documents called Health and Wellness Standard Resources to assist members in maintaining a safe and healthy environment. Some examples are Accident/Incident Report forms, Healthcare Policies Checklist, Health Screening Records and Guidelines for Special Medical Needs of Campers.These and other tools are regularly employed at camps everywhere.
Another important aspect of preparing for camp has to do with maintaining your child’s mental health. Preventing and dealing with homesickness will allow them to adapt and flourish in a new environment. Though we explore this in greater depth in another article (How To Avoid Homesickness), here are some quick thoughts to consider. First, get your child involved in deciding which camp they’ll attend from the outset. This will give them a sense of control and calm many of their concerns. Also, encourage them to discuss things they’re worried about with you and be flexible when exploring solutions. Finally, the more you and your camper know about what summer camp has to offer, whether it be the food served, activities daily schedule or healthcare resources, you both will be excited and ready for a happy, healthy summer! For more on maintaining good health at summer camp, see Protecting Health At Summer Camp.