Pediatrics Group Offers Guidelines to Keep Young Campers Safe, Healthy

FRIDAY April 1, 2011 -- Updated guidelines to keep children happy, safe and healthy when they go to camp were released this week by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

When deciding on a camp, parents should consider their child's interests, skills and overall well-being, to ensure their child can effectively participate at a particular camp.

Parents also need to medically and mentally prepare their child for camp, and team with their pediatrician and camp health providers and administrators on a pre-camp health evaluation of their child, the statement recommends.

Homesickness is a common problem for children at camp. Here are some tips to help parents and children:

  • Involve children in choosing and preparing for camps.
  • Have a positive attitude about the upcoming camp experience and openly discuss homesickness.
  • Arrange for children to have practice trips or sleepovers away from home with friends or relatives.
  • Don't make pre-arranged pick-up plans. These can cause children to question their independence.

The statement also lists specific health policies and procedures that should be followed by camp administrators. For example, camps with emergency medical devices such as automated external defibrillators, epi-pens or inhalers should keep those devices in easily accessible locations and ensure that medical staff are properly trained in their use.

Camps should have an emergency management plan for dealing with outbreaks of infectious diseases and should promote good hygiene/hand-washing habits among campers, the statement said.

Camp food should follow federal guidelines for school nutrition and food should never be used as a reward or withheld as punishment. Camps should schedule at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day for children.

The policy statement, reviewed and supported by the American Camp Association, appears in the April issue of the journal Pediatrics.

More information

The American Psychiatric Association has more about summer camps.

Posted: April 2011


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