The American Camp Association has accredited some 2,400 camps, serving 5.5 million children and young teens across the U.S. It's easy to see why summer camps have been an American tradition for so many years – it's a chance for youth to explore the great outdoors, learn the power of teamwork and make friends. But the camp experience is only fun and beneficial if attendees know how to behave properly and safely. So, before you send your little camper out the door, make sure that everyone goes over the following five safety tips:
"Always make sure that your child's summer camp is accredited."
1. Do your homework
When choosing your child's summer camp, approach the decision like you would buying a house or car – always do plenty of research. Is the camp accredited, and if so through what organization? What kind of training must all the counselors undergo? How many counselors are there per camp member? What is the camp's policy on discipline? These are important questions to ask, and they help make sure your child has the proper supervision at all times.
2. Make sure your child's prepared
Depending on the camp, your child may be involved in any number of outdoor activities. That means taking steps to ensure that your child has all the tools necessary beforehand. Texas' Camp Huawni compiled a rather extensive list of items that all campers will require. It includes a trunk or suitcase for storage, pillows and blankets, tennis shoes, a jacket, swimwear, sunscreen and insect repellant, toiletries, a blanket and pillow case, water bottle, and twin-size sheets. If your child takes medications or has asthma, make sure he or she has more than enough to last the duration of camp.
3. Create channels of communication
Your child may have special medical or dietary needs. First and foremost, it's important that you choose a camp that can cater to these unique requirements. It's also important that you detail the specific nature of your child's condition in writing. That way, camp staff and counselors are not only accountable but they know just what to do in case your child has an allergic reaction. The same information should be sent to any other emergency contacts. Giving the camp at least two or three other names of friends or family helps ensure the child's safety.
4. Plan ahead with your kids
If your child has never been to summer camp before, it's important to take the time to prepare the child for what lies ahead, and not just s'mores and good times. For instance, they'll be spending time with adults and other children they've never met before, and each child should know how to behave in this setting. The same goes for how to communicate any potential problems with camp staff, how to be safe in settings like around the campfire and during sport events, and any other pertinent information. Kids need to take an active role in preparation and their own safety.
5. Get your kid immunized
As the the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services explained, many camps in the U.S. require kids to be up-to-date on their vaccinations before enrolling. That includes measles and mumps, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis A and chickenpox. Just make sure you get the shot several weeks before camp begins to let your child build up an immunity.
If you live on the East Coast, you can take your child to nearest CareWell Urgent Care Center. At each CareWell facility, a highly trained team of medical professions can get you and your family in and out in no time.