As you consider a summer camp for your kids, you will want to think about the safety of your child while at camp. Be sure that the camp is safe and right for your child, and that he or she is ready for the experience. Evaluate these aspects of the camp to determine its safety for your child:
> Is the site clean and well-maintained? Is good hygiene emphasized?
> If transportation will be provided by the camp, is the vehicle safe and is the driver qualified?
> What health care is available at the camp? What health information about your child do they require? Is a medical professional on-site or nearby? What are the camp’s policies about administering medications that your child takes routinely or may need to take while at camp?
> Is the camp licensed and accredited by the state or a national accrediting agency?
> How is the staff trained to deal with emergencies? Does the camp have a disaster plan?
> What are the qualifications of the staff and the camp director? How many staff are returning and how many are new? Most camps have about 50 percent of their staff return from the previous year. How old are the counselors? Do they have the maturity to deal with issues that will arise?
> Are the camp’s programs appropriate for your child? If the camp is highly competitive (i.e. a selective sports camp), will your child thrive in that environment or be intimidated? How will the camp address homesickness and what are the rules about contact with parents?
Now that you have chosen the best camp for your child, how do you keep your child safe while at camp?
> Be sure that your child’s immunizations are fully up-to-date. Discuss this with your child’s physician. If the camp requires a physical exam, make an appointment with your child’s physician to complete this and the paperwork in plenty of time.
> Complete requested health history forms accurately and submit them on time to the camp. This will allow the camp director or medical staff to determine if your child has chronic or recurrent special needs while at camp.
> Notify the camp of any allergies your child may have to medications, foods or environmental allergens.
> Be sure the camp receives an adequate supply of medications for your child before he arrives at camp.
> Be sure the camp has all necessary health insurance information for your child.
> Caution your child to remain with the campers and camp leaders at all times. Instruct them about the danger of wandering off away from the group.
> Prepare your child for the experience. Talk about homesickness with your child. Emphasize the positives about the upcoming camping experience. With the proper preparation, your son or daughter will have a great time at summer camp, and you probably will have an even better time while they are there.