Staying healthy at summer camp

With summer camps around the country beginning in the coming days or weeks, it is important to review some guidelines and tips to keep your campers healthy.

Summer camp for your child likely means close interaction with numerous children, and this of course means germs!

  • HAND WASHING!! Educate and encourage your child to wash his/her hands frequently between activities and always before eating and after using the restroom.
  • In your child’s backpack, place a small bottle of hand sanitizer for them to use if they can’t get to a sink before having a snack. Ask your child’s counselors to take the children by the restroom/sink before any snacks or meals to ensure all children wash hands!
  • Do not share drinks

Outdoor activities are a favorite part of the day for many campers.  All the exercise they get during the day is excellent for their overall health, but certain precautions should be taken to prevent injuries and keep them on the playing fields instead of on the bench.

OUTDOOR TIPS

  • Make sure your child has a pair of sneakers with socks which are worn at all outdoor activities.  Never run outdoors in sandals.
  • Anytime they will be outdoors, sunscreen should be applied. Recommendations are to apply sunscreen with SPF 15 or greater 20-30 minutes prior to outdoor activities.  And remember to have them re-apply their sunscreen after sweating, swimming, or toweling off.  Click for more sunscreen tips.
  • Consider packing a spray sunscreen with your child so they and their counselors can apply it thoroughly and evenly.
  • Does your child have swimming scheduled early in the day? Apply sunscreen to their skin prior to leaving the house in the morning to ensure proper application and adequate time for absorption.
  • Hats and UV protective sunglasses should be worn while outside to help limit sun exposure to the face and eyes.  Talk with your camper to discourage the sharing of hats between their friends to prevent the possibility of sharing lice or infectious agents.
  • Bugs are an unavoidable part of outdoor summer activities.  Provide your child with a bottle of bug spray to apply before heading outdoors, especially if they will be doing any nature walks or scavenger hunts which may take them into wooded areas.  Long pants and high socks are also encouraged if the camper will be in any wooded areas to help prevent ant, mosquito, and tick bites.

SWIMMING POOL TIPS

  • Whether your child is a strong swimmer or has never been in the water before, it is of utter importance to discuss swimming pool safety.  Ask if your camp has a swimming test prior to allowing children to swim freely.  This allows the camp counselors and lifeguards to know which children can be in certain areas of the pool (i.e. deep end or shallow end only).
  • Commonly known as “swimmer’s ear”, this is an infectious process affecting the external ear and is often caused by retention of water and bacteria in the ear canal after swimming.   This is a common occurence for children during swim season.  Symptoms include pain on movement of the external ear and possibly redness and swelling of the outer ear.  If your child is experiencing these symptoms, it is important to have them evaluated by their physician before they return to the swimming pool, but don’t panic, cases are often resolved quickly with topical (cream) antibiotics and ear drops.  Prevention techniques can include a tight fitting swim cap or prescription ear drops.  If you child has had swimmer’s ear in the past, talk with their physician about additional ways to prevent recurrences during this swim season.

For specific questions on summer camp safety tips, please consult with your physician.