Camp has been around a long time – over 150 years! Today there are more than 16,000 day and resident camps in the U.S. and approximately 14 million children attend. It’s no wonder summer camp is a great way for children to be active, social and learn new skills.
When choosing a summer camp, consider your child’s age, personality and interests. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that you choose a camp accredited by the American Camp Association to ensure it’s a safe and nurturing environment.
Along with checking off packing list items, check off this list of tips from the AAP for keeping your child safe at camp.
- Discuss with your child the activities they will be doing, and be prepared for any specific safety requirements such as helmet use while playing sports or riding anything with wheels (or legs).
- Make sure your child has essential outdoor safety supplies such as sunscreen, water bottle and bug spray.
- Read and discuss camp rules and policies with your child before heading to camp. Ask them if there is anything they don’t understand.
- Talk to camp leadership about any special needs or specific accommodations your child will require while at camp.
- Avoid making any big changes in medication or routines before camp.
- Send all medications to camp with your child, and make sure they have enough to cover the time they’re away.
- Provide rescue medications to the camp medical staff if your child has allergies or conditions that require them, such as an inhaler or auto-injector.
- Teach your child about body safety and establishing safe boundaries. Assure them that it’s OK to stick to boundaries and speak up if they are uncomfortable. Have your child identify safe adults they would feel comfortable talking to if you cannot be reached.
- Remind your child to always stay with the group and never wander off alone.
- Have them wear shoes at all times – whether it’s water shoes or sneakers.
- Explain that they should not eat anything found in the woods. Berries, mushrooms and nuts that birds and animals eat may be poisonous and even deadly for humans.
- Help them stay hydrated. Camp activities can be full of movement and sweat-inducing activities, so make sure they have plenty of water available to replenish their body.
Keeping safety at the top of the camping checklist will ensure your child appreciates the benefits of summer camp: personal growth, socialization and making memories.