Going to a summer camp is not just fun for kids but it is also an opportunity for them to become independent and more responsible.  No childhood is complete without creating countless memories from the adventures and friends made while being away at camp.  Summer camps provide children with an opportunity to build their self-esteem, make new friends, and learn handy life skills.  But like any other adventure in life, it is important that you prepare them so that they can prevent or handle unanticipated dangerous situations.

Illness, injuries, and homesickness are common occurrences when sending kids away to summer camp.  However, preparing your children and proper planning can prevent these situations from interrupting their summer camp experience.

Preparing for Hazards
Though summer camp is a fun place to go, it is also a place full of hazards.  We, unfortunately, cannot protect our children from every hazard in life, but we can equip them with the necessary tools to prevent them from happening.

Illness
Illness is probably one of the biggest hazards of any summer camp.  Camps spend a great deal of time training the staff to help prevent injuries, but they do not spend nearly as much time training to prevent infectious diseases.

Parents can teach their children good habits related to daily hygiene that can help keep them from getting sick while they are away.

  • Keeping your child at home when they’re sick can help prevent the spread of an illness.  It is better to care for your child at home and send them to camp later.
  • Make sure your children understand how important it is to wash their hands, especially before they eat and after they go to the bathroom.  Good hygiene prevents the spread of germs that cause illnesses.
  • Teach your children the appropriate way to cough and sneeze.  Teaching children to cough and sneeze in the crook of their arm, as opposed to in their hand, will help prevent the spread of germs.

Injuries
Most campsites have rough terrain.  Send your campers with the appropriate shoes.  Closed toe shoes are best for camping.

  • Children fall, trip, and slip all the time.  Children can get hurt on rocks, trees, furniture, and other obstacles at camp.  Having a sturdy pair of shoes will help to minimize the risk of sprains, strains, and other foot injuries.

Head injuries happen in camps frequently.  Running and playing rough can cause a child to fall and injure their head in a matter of seconds.

  • Be sure to explain to your children how important it is to play carefully and wear the proper protective equipment when horseback riding and engaging in other activities that require protective gear.

Wellness Check Up
Before sending your child to camp, it would be advisable to take them to the doctor for a full check up.

  • A wellness checkup is just a precaution.
  • If your child has a medical condition, visiting the doctor can ensure your child has all the appropriate medication and is healthy enough to go away to camp.
  • When sending your child to camp, you want to send a list of any dietary and activity restrictions for the staff to adhere to.

Homesickness
Homesickness is common in children going to camp for the first time.

  • Sending your child on a practice run, before sending them to camp, can help prevent homesickness.
  • Send your child to a sleepover with a friend or relative.  This will give them an idea of what it is like to be away from home.

Important Questions to Ask
Sending our children away to summer camp is a great experience for the entire family.  Have these questions answered to help you choose the right camp.

  • How do you handle illness and injuries?
  • What type of shoes are required and forbidden at camp?
  • Do you require children to wear protective equipment during specialized activities? Is this equipment available for their use?
  • What happens during the camper’s free time?
  • What are your procedures for homesickness?
  • What activities will the children participate in?
  • What type of transportation is used and has it received maintenance from a qualified mechanic?

Camp is meant to be a fun experience.  Proper research and a little bit of preparation can make all the difference in your child’s experience at a summer camp.  If you follow these tips, your children will have a great time while learning life’s important lessons at summer camp.

For more information, visit Careworks.

Author: Michele Holincheck, FNP

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