Top tips for a worry-free camp experience
Published: April 28, 2022
By: Tanni Haas, Ph.D.
As you’re getting the kids ready for one of the year’s absolute highlights — summer camp — teach them how to stay safe while they’re having fun. Based on my own experiences as a parent of summer campers, as well as conversations with other parents, I’ve pulled together a list of some of the most important safety concerns.
Hydration. Few things are as important as teaching your kids to stay properly hydrated all day. It’s hot outside, they sweat a lot, but they’re having fun so they often forget to drink at all or as much as they should be drinking. You don’t want them to get dehydrated or heat stroke, so shop together for a water bottle that they like and remind them to fill it up throughout the day. Find out what the camp counselors do to ensure that the kids stay hydrated. Do they remind them to drink? Do the campers have regular water breaks during the day?
Sunscreen. Sun safety also means teaching your kids to put on sunscreen whenever they’re about to go outside and to reapply it throughout the day. Buy some sunscreen before camp starts and make your kids try it to ensure they don’t have any adverse reactions to it.
Swimming. Most kids love to splash around with their friends in the camp swimming pool if there is one. It’s a source of endless fun, but it can also be dangerous if they don’t know basic water safety and how to swim. If your kids aren’t already proficient swimmers, sign them up for swimming lessons before camp starts and encourage them to never engage in dangerous activities like holding someone else’s head underwater. Ask the camp what it does to enforce water safety. Is the pool always supervised by lifeguards who are trained in CPR? Does the pool have rescue equipment like life jackets and a shepherd’s hook to grab kids who may be drowning? Is playtime organized by proficiency level so that beginners and advanced swimmers aren’t in the pool at the same time?
Water Sports. The same safety concern applies to water sports like boating and jet skiing. Your kids need to understand how important it is to wear a life jacket at all times when they engage in any water sports. They should also understand never to dive in shallow water or participate in other dangerous activities.
Hiking. Another popular activity in many summer camps is hiking. Summer camps are often located in beautiful surroundings, so it only makes sense to take the kids on a hike. To avoid a slip or fall, pack a pair of walking shoes with good traction. Remind them not to take any unnecessary risks, like veering off the path or running when they should be walking.
Medical Information. Kids do get sick at camp. Hopefully, it’s not going to be anything serious. But to be on the safe side, provide the camp with a detailed health history, including illnesses, injuries, operations, allergies and current medical problems (if any). Review the facilities and activities for anything that might trigger medical/allergic reactions. Give the camp copies (front and back) of your hospital, medical and dental insurance cards. Finally, make sure that the camp has a well-staffed and well-equipped medical station, know their procedures for dispensing medication and explain to your kids who to alert if something is wrong with them.
Field Trips. Many summer camps take the kids on day or overnight trips, which can be great fun. To avoid any accident driving to and from their destinations, teach your kids proper behavior while in a vehicle — stay seated at all times and buckle up — and ask the camp whether the vehicles are inspected regularly by qualified mechanics.
Adding some of these tips to your readiness checklist will help ensure that you — and your children — are happy campers.