1. When children show signs of illness, keep them home. This greatly reduces the spread of illness at camp. Ask your camp director about the timeframe that a child must be symptom-free before coming to camp. For more information, watch Bob Ditter’s “Ready for Camp” video at http://www.campparents.org/bob_ditter_video.php.
2. Teach your child to sneeze and cough in his/her sleeve, and to wash his/her hands often at camp. Hand washing with soap and water should be performed for at least twenty seconds to remove germs.
3. Closed-toed shoes are a requirement for activities such as sports and hiking. This will help avoid slips, trips, and falls, which could cause injuries. Stress to your child the importance of wearing closed-toed shoes to prevent a toe, foot, and/or ankle injury.
4. Send enough clothes so your child can wear layers. Mornings can be chilly and by afternoon it may be hot. This enables your child to peel his/her layers off as the weather warms.
5. Fatigue plays a part in injuries. If children are going to day camp, ensure they get enough rest at night. If children are going to resident camp, explain that camp is not like a sleepover. Explain to your child that he/she should not try to stay up all night!
6. Don’t forget to send sunscreen with about 45 SPF, and instruct your child how to use sunscreen.
7. Please send a reusable water bottle. Your child can refill it frequently during their camp stay. Staying hydrated is very important in the summer.
8. Deciding whether or not to send your child to camp on a psychotropic medication break is a personal choice, but you should discuss your medication decisions with the camp director and your family physician. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children on psychotropics remain on them for camp. According to AAP’s Health Appraisal Guidelines for Day Camps and Resident Camps, “Elective interruption in medications (drug holidays) should be avoided in campers on long-term psychotropic therapy” (AAP, 2005). For more information, visit http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/115/6/1770.
9. Make sure you fill out medical history and authorization for medical care forms for your child. In the event of an emergency or if your child gets sick at camp, these will be necessary documents for the camp to refer to and have on file. Speak with your camp director to make sure he or she has all the necessary information.
10. The American Camp Association’s® parent-dedicated Web site, www.CampParents.org, provides a wide range of educational resources to help parents make good health-related decisions for children. Explore the resources on this Web site for further information on preparing your child for a healthy summer at camp.
American Academy of Pediatrics. (2005). “Healthy appraisal guidelines for day camps and resident camps. Retrieved from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/115/6/1770.
Originally published in the May 2010 issue of Camp e-News. Reprinted by permission of the American Camp Association. ©2010 American Camping Association, Inc.