Set Your Kid Up for Summer Camp Success

Image of a kid at summer camp

Summer camp is a rite of passage for kids. Whether your kids will be spending a week (or more!) at an overnight camp or just spending a few hours at a day camp close to home, a little preparation can make things go smoother for both you and your child.

Here are a few tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics to help you and your child prepare for summer camp.

  • Know Your Child: First, determine if your child is ready summer camp. If the answer is yes, work with your child to see where his/her comfort level is. Be sure to take into account your child's interests and skill level, not to mention his/her emotional readiness. This means making sure your child is not only enthused about the camp you've chosen, but will realistically be able to meet the associated physical and emotional expectations.
  • Get Checked Out: Schedule an annual checkup with your child's doctor. Discuss the camp and the physical demands of it. Get clarity on any physical limitations your child may have. Ask for updated prescriptions on any necessary medications, including asthma inhalers, allergy medicine, etc. Get any needed forms signed.
  • Immunize: Make sure your children's immunizations are up-to-date. Not only do vaccines help limit the spread of vaccine-preventable infections in the camp environment (not to mention in general), but it's also worth noting that children attending camps in other states (or even other countries) may have additional immunization requirements.
  • Talk it Out: Talk to your child about what to expect emotionally, particularly if he/she will be going to an overnight camp. Set clear guidelines about communicating - when and how often they can phone home, who they should go to if something is wrong, et.
  • Do Your Research: Investigate a camp thoroughly before registering. Find out about staff to camper ratios and what sort of training and certification the staff undergoes. For overnight camps, find out how prepared the camp is for illness, injury and other emergencies.
  • Pack Wisely: A good camp will provide each camper a list of items he/she should bring. Be sure to pack everything on the list and think twice before packing anything not on the list. Typically these lists have been finetuned over the years and if an item isn't included on it, there's probably a good reason why. Be sure to label everything with your child's name.
  • Encourage Hydration: The AAP found that between 50 and 75 percent of kids attending summer sports camps are significantly dehydrated. Talk to your child ahead of time about how much water they should be drinking. Help them identify the best places to refill water bottles. Tell them the signs of dehydration to watch for and to talk to a staff member if they feel dehydrated.

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