Going to summer camp is one of the experiences of childhood that for many American families is not to be missed. At the right camp, youngsters can gain leadership and social skills, connect with nature, learn independence, and improve self-esteem. In these ways, the summer camp experience can be tremendously beneficial to kids – physically, mentally, and emotionally.
And this is no secret. Each year more than 14 million children and adults attend camp in the United States. But because the vast majority of the camps attended each year offer physically demanding activities like swimming, horseback riding, or hiking, and because the camp environment requires children to spend their time in such close proximity with others, it’s essential to get your kids ready with the right healthcare before you send them to camp.
Making Camp Safe and Healthy
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a set of guidelines to help ensure kids will be healthy and stay safe at camp. Even the healthiest of children should get checked for issues that only a physician can spot. And because of the prevalence of allergies – both to food and other substances, some of which can cause life-threatening reactions – along with other health concerns such as chronic illnesses, special needs, and disorders, it’s important to plan and prepare diligently for your kids’ summer camp.
Choose a camp carefully. Be sure to ask people you know and trust for recommendations for great camps – and also consider your child’s special interests. Know your child’s passions and limitations – physical or otherwise – and choose a camp best suited to his or her skills and abilities.
Give your child instruction. This may mean helping your child to use an inhaler or take medications independently or to know how to ask for help when needed, if an injury occurs.
Get your child vaccinated. All campers should be immunized in accordance to the recommended vaccine schedule to best protect everyone from otherwise avoidable infectious disease.
Prepare medical records and notes. If your child has allergies or other health concerns, putting together information on your child’s specific concerns and the remedies to address them can be a simple but lifesaving step you can take for your child.
Get a pre-camp well check. In one visit, a pediatrician can assess your child’s overall health, identify any potential for contagious disease, renew medications, and advise you as to your child’s readiness for camp.
Happiness at Camp Starts with Good Health
Picking a high-quality, well-equipped camp, preparing your camper, and working with a pediatrician to ensure your child is ready for camp should become as much a part of your annual camp tradition as going to camp itself … because only when your child is healthy and stays safe can he or she experience all the joys and wonder camp can offer. A Kelsey-Seybold pediatrician can perform a well check, administer required vaccinations, and help your child prepare to be a happy camper this summer. Schedule an appointment for your child with a pediatrician today.
Dr. Kara Carter is a board-certified pediatrician at Kelsey-Seybold’s Katy Clinic in Richmond, Texas. She’s a breastfeeding advocate and her clinical interests revolve around preventive care for her patients.