Sending your child to summer camp can be frightening, especially if it's a sleep-away camp. There's an endless amount of things to consider and questions to ask, from the type of camp to the camper-to-staff ratio, to the expertise of the medical staff. And if your child has any special medical needs, that adds to your concerns. Asking the right questions is essential to your child's safety.
Summer camps compile their staffs from a variety of people. One thing they must all have in common is a clean background check. Talk to the camp director to make sure each staff member has had a background check . Anyone who works with children should have proper training and have been fingerprinted and screened. If the camp doesn't do background checks, skip it.
Children get hurt. It doesn't really matter how many safety rules are in place, children will find a way to fall down, get scrapped up, and even break a limb. Talk to the medical staff of the camp to find out what their experience and area of expertise are. If your child has special medical needs, this is especially important. You need to find out how well equipped the staff is to care for your child. In addition, check with their protocol is for injuries and illness at camp as well as how close the nearest hospital is. Staff should be certified in CPR. The American Academy of Pediatrics states, "All camps should have written health policies and protocols that have been reviewed and approved by a physician with specialized training in children's health, preferably a pediatrician or family physician."
Lots of people visit their children at sleep-away camp. Just because a person is a parent, doesn't mean they are good and trustworthy people. Talk to the camp about their visitor policy and their security. Can anyone wander onto camp grounds or is there a gated entrance? How does the camp decide who to let in?
You should provide camp staff with detailed information concerning your child's medication and health history. In addition, make sure the camp properly stores all medications so that children aren't able to access them.
Many campers, especially first timers, experience homesickness. Help your child prepare emotionally for camp by letting her take part in the planning. Talk positively about the camp and avoid showing your own fears to your child. You can practice being separated by sending your child for a sleepover at a relative's house. Be sure to set up a pick up arrangement with the camp in case your child needs to leave camp early.
The most important concern about sending your child to summer camp is safety. Being prepared and knowing what to ask the camp is essential to ensuring your child not only has fun, but comes home happy and healthy.
Are you sending your child to a summer camp this year? What safety policy and procedures does the camp have in place?