Ah, summer camp. New friends. New adventures. Swimming, horseback riding, archery, crafts, s’mores around the campfire. What’s not to love? But if your child is heading off to camp this summer, you want to make sure that (s)he’ll be just as safe and healthy there as (s)he is at home.
Since camp counselors and other personnel will be your kids’ surrogate parents for a significant period of time, you’ll want to make sure they’re qualified to take on this serious responsibility. Don’t simply rely on the camp’s glossy brochure. If possible, visit the camp yourself before enrolling your child. At the very least, do your homework and ask numerous questions.
Medical Rules and Regulations
In New York, children’s camps by law must have a city, county or state health department permit. Other states, however, may not have the same requirement, so check to see if your camp of choice has one. Likewise make sure the camp has written health policies, protocols and procedures and familiarize yourself with them. Also ask such questions as the following:
- Does the camp have an on-site nurse?
- Does it have an on-call physician?
- Does it have an infirmary or other designated place where your child can go if (s)he doesn’t feel well?
- What kind of first aid supplies does it keep on hand?
- What immunization policy does it have with regard to both campers and camp personnel?
- What is its policy regarding your child’s prescription medications?
- Can your child bring his or her own OTC things like pain relievers, ointments, salves, itch relievers, etc.?
- How serious must your child’s injury or illness be before the camp contacts you?
- Does the camp require a medical history of your child?
Different camps provide different activities for your child’s enjoyment. It goes without saying that all of these activities should be safe and well supervised by qualified camp personnel who have received the proper training to oversee them and handle whatever situations may arise. One of your main considerations should be the camp’s overall counselor-to-camper ratio and with regard to each activity. For instance, New York requires every overnight camp to have an overall ratio of one counselor for every 10 children eight years old or older and one counselor for every eight children younger than eight.
Virtually all camps include swimming and other water activities. Make sure your child’s camp has a certified lifeguard and/or water safety instructor on duty at all times when children have access to the pool or lake. Likewise make sure that all camp personnel involved in water activities are certified in CPR.
Your child’s camp should have similar safety measures in place for all potentially dangerous activities such as boating, horseback riding, archery, rock climbing, etc., as well as for all off-site trips campers take.
Just because your child is at camp does not mean that (s)he should live on junk food while there. Ask to see the camp’s sample breakfast, lunch and dinner menus and also assure yourself that the kitchen, food prep and disposal areas, and dining room(s) are all clean and have passed all health inspections.
Ask how the camp handles campers’ food preferences and make sure it accommodates your child’s religious or other food prohibitions, as well as his or her food allergies.
Camping should be a wonderful experience for your child. However, if (s)he is injured or contracts a disease at camp through someone’s negligence, please call Richard A. Dubi toll-free at 833-FOR-DUBI (833-367-3824).