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Healthy You

6 summer camp tips for parents

Thursday, June 22, 2023 8:49 AM

By NorthShore – Edward-Elmhurst Health

Summer is here, and with it comes endless activities that spark anticipation and excitement for kids.

Summer CampOne highly anticipated activity is summer camp. Summer camps are a great way to help your child gain independence, make friends and have some fun.

If you are new to summer camp, how do you get started? Here are six tips to keep in mind:

  1. Review your choices. When reviewing camps, keep in mind your child's age and comfort level with being away from home. There are full-day and half-day camps, day camps and overnight camps. Younger children often do better in day camps. There are also a variety of camps to choose from, including arts, sports, music, nature, academic and more. Start with your child’s interests and personality and go from there.
  2. Pick the right fit. In addition to traditional summer camps, many park districts, daycares, churches, and local elementary schools offer camps. Get referrals from friends and family members and attend camp fairs to narrow down your list. Ask about the camp's staff ratios, safety procedures and availability of onsite healthcare. Involve your child in the process of choosing the camp.
  3. Get an updated physical. It’s essential to make sure your child is healthy and equipped for any activities that the camp plans on doing. Get an updated physical for your child, especially if they haven’t had a recent one. Many camps require your child’s complete health record. If your child has a health condition like asthma or a food allergy, make sure an emergency action plan is in place. Ensure any medications are sent to camp with instructions before the first day.
  4. Create a camp checklist and label belongings. Ensure your child has what they need their first day of camp. Common items include a water bottle, sunscreen, insect repellent, swimwear, sandals/shoes, an extra set of clothes/socks, and a packed lunch (if needed). Label your child’s belongings so none of them get lost. Have your child pack their own camp bag so they know what’s in it.
  5. Remind your child of camp rules. Before camp starts, review the rules and expectations of the camp with your child, such as pool and sports safety. Remind your child that rules are in place to keep everyone safe and happy.
  6. Be aware that homesick feelings may arise. If your child is at day camp or especially at away camp, homesick feelings may arise, and that's okay! To combat these feelings, pack a reminder of home for your child. For overnight camps, confirm if it's okay to call or send letters or care packages. If your child becomes incredibly homesick, typically beyond two days, and shows signs of depression, anxiety or a low appetite, it may be time to bring them home.

Now you both are prepared to enjoy a safe, healthy and fun summer. Let the memories begin!

Learn more about pediatric care at NorthShore University HealthSystem.