The risk for injuries also increases when camp lasts 14 days or more, children’s health experts say.
But by taking some important precautions, parents can help ensure their children have a fun and injury-free summer, according to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Their experts offer the following advice.
Before sending kids off to summer camp, parents should do their homework. Be sure to check references and look for camps that are accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA). Camp directors should also meet the minimum standards set by the ACA.
Different camps have various philosophies and programs. Make sure children attend a camp that meets their individual needs and interests. Parents should also verify that any camp they choose follows state laws regarding the safe transport of children, including the use of booster seats and seat belts.
Once the list of potential camps is narrowed down, there are several questions that should be asked, including:
- How many campers are assigned to one counselor at any given time?
- How old are the camp counselors and what type of training do they have?
- What is the camp’s philosophy on discipline and how are behavioral issues handled?
- How does the camp handle emergencies as well as issues for campers with special needs or homesickness?
- How does the camp handle medication?
- Are there any written doctor-approved health policies and procedures in place at the camp?
- Do any staff members have formal training in CPR or concussion recognition and management?
- Does the camp require the use of safety equipment such as helmets for activities like horseback riding, cycling, football and skateboarding? Is the equipment provided?
Once a camp has been selected, it’s time to pack and provide children with important reminders, the experts noted. Here are some of their safety recommendations:
- Bring the right shoes. Crocs and flip-flops should only be worn around a pool or in the shower. In order to avoid injuries at camp, be sure to pack comfortable and supportive sneakers.
- Review the camp’s activities to ensure children know what to expect.
- Remind children to follow camp rules, listen to their counselors and ask for help if they need it.
- Be sure that children’s counselors are aware of any allergies or medical conditions that require medication. Children who are sick and contagious, however, should stay home to avoid infecting others.
- Medications or inhalers should be labeled with your child’s name and instructions for how and when they should be used.
- Remember sunscreen. Children should be reminded to apply SPF 30 sunscreen in the morning and after engaging in water sports.
- Bring a reusable water bottle that children can use regularly.
- Children should also bring antibacterial hand sanitizer or wipes, lip balm, bug spray, adhesive bandages, a whistle to signal for help, a hat, and sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection.