Health Care At Camp:
What Parents Need to Know
You have selected the perfect camp for your child. You have sent in your payment, checked all the clothes on the camp list, bought a flashlight and rain gear, made travel arrangements and filled out all the papers the camp has sent. Wow, you've covered everything, or have you? Have you thought about health care at camp ..what you and your child really need to know and do BEFORE you send them off to camp?
One of the most important things to consider is good health at camp and completing the Health History form is the right way to start! Make sure you fill out the health form completely and send it to the camp well before your child is to arrive. This allows the health care provider to review the health form and determine if there are any special requirements or considerations. The nurse will read the health history and note if your child takes any medication, has any allergies or chronic conditions, requires activity restrictions or special care while at camp. The nurse will then decide if any information needs to be shared with the child's counselor, or if a phone is needed to clarify information. The permission to treat form must be signed and dated.
Depending on the camp's requirements, you probably will need to visit your physician for your child's health examination and/or verify the information on the form. If you mail the physician the form, include a stamped envelope with the camp's address so it can be sent directly to the camp upon completion. It might be a good idea to let your child look at the Health Form while you fill it out. Health care at camp is your child's responsibility.
Medication at Camp
If your child takes daily medication, it will be given at camp. Ask the camp director how medication distribution is accomplished at camp. In the camp environment, all medication is kept safely locked in the health center. If your child needs to have an inhaler or epi-pen, ask what the camp policy is for carrying these items before you send your child off to camp with them. Discuss with your child how they will get their medication at camp.
All medication should be brought to camp in the original prescription bottle. Make sure there is enough medication to last the camp session. Vitamins and other over-the-counter medication also need to be in original containers with instructions from your doctor as to how to use them. Label all medication with your child's name.
Health Care Providers
Ask what health care providers the camp employs. What are their credentials? Where is the nearest hospital? Pharmacy? Are you called before your child is taken off site to a physician? How is the staff trained to meet health care needs?
Does the camp carry insurance for illness and injury? Ask. Many camps now rely on parent's insurance to pay for illness or injury incurred at camp. If the camp requires your insurance information, please fill it out completely. What about prescription medication that may be needed and ordered by the camp physician? Who pays for the medication? Know this information before you get the bills.
Off Camp Trips
If your child is on a tripping program or involved with a travel camp, ask about health care. What first aid and health training does the staff receive? Who is the responsible adult? How do they access help if needed?
First Day of Camp
The first day of camp is very exciting and can be a bit overwhelming. Prepare your child for what to expect. At some point during the initial drop off of your child, you might be asked to check in with the nurse. At this initial meeting the nurse or health care assistant might ask you and your child some questions. Has the health form has changed since it was filled out? Has the child been exposed to any communicable diseases? How is the child feeling today? Is the child taking any medication? Where is the medication? Is there anything else the nurse needs to know? Many camps ask that medication be turned over to the nurse at this time. Ask how your camp collects the child's medication.
The above is considered part of a health screening. In addition, the camp may check for evidence of illness, injury or communicable disease. The health care team may check heads for headlice, take your child's temperature, check for athlete's foot, etc. Ask the camp director how the camp conducts health screenings and what is involved so you can prepare your child. The more the child knows about what is going to happen the first day, the less anxious they are.
Ask the camp director when parents are notified if the camper becomes ill or injured at camp. Communication and knowing when you will be contacted will ease your mind about your child's camp experience.
Camp Directors and camp health personnel are very concerned that your child has a safe and healthy camp experience. You can assist them by communicating all of your child's health needs clearly and in detail.
Have a Healthy, Happy Camp Experience!