“Are you ready for the summer? Are you ready for the good times?”
If you’re a fan of Bill Murray and the 1979 comedy classic Meatballs, you’ll associate this musical question with the hi-jinks of the ‘North Star’ summer camp crew. But being “ready” for summer camp isn’t just about mentally preparing your children to be away from home.
Real summer camp preparation means packing supplies, gathering medical records, and even seeing the pediatrician. Think you’re ready? Here’s a short summer camp preparation checklist.
Are we ready for the good times yet?
Pre-camp medical checkups are not just a good idea, they’re actually required by many summer camps. The first step is to check with the camp for a list of what they require. Make sure you know the cut-off date and what proof they’ll need to see as confirmation.
Typically, a camp will require updated vaccination records, which you’re likely to have from the pediatrician or school already. Double-check the records you have to make sure they have been updated with any vaccinations that happened during the school year.
Remember that just because you know your child’s inoculations are up-to-date doesn’t mean they do. When it comes to the health and safety of your own child, you’ll be glad that the camp had strict rules.
Are you ready for the sports times?
Typically, a summer camp is just looking to ensure that the kids staying there are generally healthy, especially since many campgrounds are located some distance from hospitals and urgent care centers. But some summer camps might also require some basic level of fitness for activities like hiking and swimming.
Parents who are planning to send their little ones to a camp with a heavy focus on sports (hint: does it have the word “Adventure” in the title?) should keep their child’s personal stamina in mind when making out the pre-camp checklist.
If a camp doesn’t stipulate specific requirements for the physical exam but you still have concerns regarding your child’s fitness, you should inform your child’s pediatrician of what camp activities concern you.
Are you ready for the Epi-Pen times?
Does your child have asthma or allergies? What about ear problems? For a kid who will be swimming or hiking in the woods, forgetting to double-check early on could mean serious trouble later.
In some instances, a summer camp will have a nurse or other designated staff member who will be in charge of doling out the medications. If the summer camp allows children to keep and take their own medications, provide your child with a medication schedule and enough medication (plus a little extra!) for the duration of the camp.
In addition to informing the staff, provide your child with a medical ID bracelet to help inform medical personnel in a worst-case scenario, like a reaction to bee stings. You never know when a new staff member might arrive and be unaware of the existing condition.
If your child typically carries an epi-pen or asthma inhaler, make absolutely certain the camp staff won’t take these items away. Also, make sure your child recognizes the importance of keeping lifesaving items on them at all times, even though it might seem like a chore to them.
Are you ready for the phone calls?
It’s important to ensure a child is physically fit for camp, but your summer camp survival toolkit doesn’t end there.
Make sure that your child goes to camp with adequate sun protection, such as sunblock, sunglasses, a baseball cap or wide-brimmed hat. Pack a first-aid kit for treating minor cuts and scrapes. Also consider some anti-itch cream for all the little bug bites that will no doubt keep them up at night scratching.
Most of all, make sure your kids know you are thinking of them and have plenty of thoughtful reminders like a favorite stuffed animal or a family photo to take with them. Knowing you love and miss them as they go to sleep at night might be the best preparation of all.