With warm weather and sunshine upon us, we can’t help but think about all of the summer activities up ahead. If you or your children are lucky enough to be heading off to summer camp, The Medical Station wants to remind you to keep health and safety in mind. On this week’s blog, we offer some tips for you and your children to ensure that their time at summer camp is not only fun and exciting, but healthy and safe!
What Are the Benefits of Summer Camp?Summer camps can play a key role in promoting healthy child development, in terms of social, emotional, psychological, moral, and physical indicators. The psychosocial benefits have been found to be particularly important, with summer camp helping to build resilience that lasts into adulthood. Summer camp offers a unique, often more accommodating and accepting (compared with school), environment where children can socialize, try new things, and challenge themselves. For many, it is an opportunity for self-discovery and learning – which may not always happen in a school classroom, or in front of a TV or computer screen.
Tips for Staying Healthy While at Camp
In addition to their role in promoting healthy development, outdoor summer camps provide a great environment for healthful behaviours. There are, however, important things to do to prepare and keep in mind before sending your children off to camp, whether it's residential (overnight) or day camp. The Medical Station recommends the following:
- Make sure to inform the camp of any existing health conditions, medications, or allergies in advance and send your child with sufficient doses of any medication. Camp is not a time to downplay your child’s conditions or to experiment with going off of medications.
- Pack lots of sunscreen – ensure that your child has more than enough sunscreen to last the duration of their stay at camp. Keep in mind some bottles may get lost or shared among fellow campers.
- Bring a hat or two – (in addition to providing effective sun protection) make sure it’s a hat that your child feels good in and will actually want to wear.
- Keep hydrated – pack a water bottle and remind your child that it is always a good idea to ask a counsellor or friend about where to fill it up!
- Remind your child about the importance of sleep – while there will definitely be some late nights staying up with new friends, they will get the most of the activities if they are feeling well rested and energized.
- Encourage your child to try as many new activities as possible – remind them that many of the other campers will also be trying activities for the first time.
- Review tips for personal hygiene, especially if it is your child’s first time away from home.
- Discuss homesickness and strategies for managing it in advance. Whether it's providing preemptive comfort that most children get homesick, or figuring out a schedule of letter writing – it can be extremely helpful to have strategies in place before heading off to camp.
The Medical Station knows that not everyone has the chance to attend summer camp (for a number of different reasons). There are, however, several diverse, high-quality, and affordable camps offered across the Toronto and the GTA that may be suitable for you and your children.