A Parents Handbook
To Summer Fun & Safety
SPONSORED BY CampPaks.com
Sending snacks and smiles, miles away
The summer is the best time for your growing camper. Each year, thousands of boys and girls head out to enjoy great wide open spaces and reap the benefits of fresh air, constant activity and best of all, the priceless social environment and interaction found only in sleep-away summer camp. Most agree, nothing beats a summer at camp. Especially if it’s a safe and happy one for your child.
In all likelihood, a lost sneaker or a bruised elbow is all you have to fear. But to be on the safe side, take time to review this booklet. It was compiled with the expertise and advice of seasoned camp veterans who know where the trouble spots are and best of all, how to avoid them.
After reading through the information found here, take time to speak with your little camper. While some of the points mentioned here might not seem like a big deal, it’s important to realize that details are what a great summer camp experience is all about.
Looking forward to a safe, joyous and memorable summer for all.
Your friends at CampPaks.com
For over twenty-five years, the makers of CampPaks™ have provided smiles for campers of all ages with the very best in summertime snacks and treats. And for years, we’ve helped parents send summer camp packages, or CampPaks™, to their favorite campers.
Now the internet brings the convenience and variety of CampPaks™ to every parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle or friend. Just visit CampPaks.com and select from a wide variety of delicious treats and snacks to be delivered directly to your favorite camper.
Visit us on the web. We make camp-time caring as easy as CampPaks™.
CampPaks.com. Snacks and smiles, sent miles away.
Every camp will send you a list of things to send to camp with your child. Pay attention to these lists. They’re compiled with decades of camp experience and know-how. Also, remember that camp is a place for your child to have fun. Don’t expect clothing and other items to return in the condition they went. So don’t place too much value on what you pack.
On the other hand, invest in a sturdy duffel bag, trunk or suitcase to send your child’s possessions in. Few events are more traumatic to your child, or annoying to his or her counselor, than luggage that won’t open, close, or last the summer. By buying quality, you probably won’t have to think about new camp luggage for years to come.
When packing, it’s a good idea to create and include a written list of what you’re sending. Even if your child is especially independent and insists on packing their own suitcase, you should at least supervise closely.
Here’s a list of things to consider when packing for your child.
- Consult camp to determine if sending a pillow is necessary
- Towels should not be the family’s best, as they’ll be required to endure camp laundry
- A small bag to store soap, shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, comb and brush is helpful
- A laundry bag to store dirty clothing is a necessity
- If sending new shoes, try to make sure they’re broken in before camp starts
- A raincoat or poncho is a must
- A hat is a quick and easy form of sunscreen. Make sure to include at least one.
- Use a permanent marker to write your child’s name on every item
- Always send extra batteries and a heavy-duty flashlight.
- Canteen or water bottle
- Sunscreen (SPF 15 or above, UVA and UVB protection)
- Lip balm
- Insect repellent
- Pre-addressing and pre-stamping postcards or envelopes increases the likelihood of receiving mail from your child
First Time Campers
Parents should remember that summer camp is more than a fun place for kids. Rather, it’s a place where children learn skills such as self-reliance, cooperation and independence. These are skills your child will constantly use over the course of his or her life. Therefore, it’s important to help make the experience a pleasant transition for the first time camper.
First, prepare for camp together. If your child feels part of the process, the better they’ll feel about camp prior to the summer. Also, expect your first time camper to be nervous. But don’t worry that you’ll scar him or her for life by making them go. Rather, talk about their feelings and maybe share an experience you had with something new and unfamiliar.
Communicate your confidence in his or her ability to deal with being away from home. Remind your child of a new experience they’ve had similar to going to camp and how they dealt with it effectively. Also, ask your child if they want to bring something special from home, like a picture or a stuffed animal, to help them cope with the transition.
Remember for the sake of your child and yourself; being away from home is a big deal. It’s a big change and an entirely new experience for both you and your child.
Still, remember that the positive greatly outweighs the negative. Camp is a learning experience. It’s an opportunity for your child to expand their personal experience and a chance for parents and children to practice letting go. By doing so, children can develop autonomy and a stronger sense of self, make new friends, develop new social skills, learn about teamwork, exercise creativity and more. It’s also a time for parents to take a short break from their normal responsibilities of parenting. Camp is a wonderful growing experience for everyone involved.
The most fundamental rule of safety is often the one most often ignored. A poll of camp nurses reveals the number one infirmary complaint, especially within the first week of camp, is sunburn.
Yet, sunburn is no joke. People who have experienced severe sunburn at any point in their lives run a risk far greater than average of getting skin cancer later in life. Therefore, it is vital that you provide your camper with an ample supply of recently purchased sunscreen.
The variety of sunscreen available is confusing so just keep in mind that your best bet is any brand with a SPF (Solar Protection Factor) of 15 or higher. SPF numbers correspond to the length of time it will protect your child’s skin. The average amount of time it takes for unprotected skin to be affected by sun exposure is about 10 minutes. Sunscreen will protect skin for that amount times the SPF number.
For example, SPF 30 will protect for 10 minutes X 30 which equals 300 minutes or five hours. The higher the SPF the better. Though after a certain point, you run out of peak daylight hours. Speaking about daylight, remind your campers to use sunscreen even when it’s cloudy and even if they have dark skin.
Also, most sunscreens block UVB (Ultra Violet B) rays. It is advisable to purchase a brand that blocks UVA rays as well. A note about expiration dates. While it is important to use recently purchased sunscreen to maximize its effectiveness (over time the active ingredients break down and diminish in strength), there’s no need to send a new bottle every couple of weeks. A year and a half is about the average life span of a bottle of sunscreen.
It is important to remind your child that sunscreen is as important as brushing teeth (we hope they brush their teeth. Right?). Also, waterproof sunscreen is nice, but it shouldn’t become a false security. Sunscreen should be reapplied after swimming and heavy perspiration.
By the way, the number one places people forget to put sunscreen on are the nose and ears. Ouch! Remember the sunscreen!
It’s important to be aware of what ticks are, what danger they pose and how to teach your children to protect themselves from tick bites. Ticks are tiny bugs found particularly in woodsy or grassy areas. Many may carry a particularly dangerous disease called Lyme Disease. This disease may have debilitating effects on a person not treated after contracting Lyme Disease and therefore, individuals should exercise caution when venturing into areas prone for tick-infestation.
Ticks are not found everywhere, so the risk to your child varies depending on where they spend their summer. For locales where tick populations are high, the real risk occurs when venturing into tall grass and wooded areas.
The rules of prevention are simple. Explain to your child before leaving for summer camp to wear pants when in the woods or otherwise unfamiliar places. When walking through thick, tall grass they should tuck their pant cuffs into their socks. It also helps to wear light colored clothing when in tall grass and wooded areas to easily see ticks that may have attached themselves. Hats and long sleeved shirts are advisable as well.
Before venturing near potentially tick-infested areas, one should apply insect repellent to skin and clothing. It goes without saying that parents should include a container of insect repellent when packing for camp.
If your child suspects a tick has bitten them, teach them to tell a counselor or the camp nurse quickly. The camp nurse will help determine if the tick carries Lyme disease. The proper way of removing a tick is with fine point tweezers, and a tick should never be removed with bare fingers.
To many, poison ivy is just one of the immutable facts of summer life. Yet, a little education can go a long way in keeping your child away from this uncomfortable summertime exposure.
Explain to your child that all parts of the poison ivy plant (leaves, stems, roots, berries) contain a toxic oil which stays on skin, clothes, sneakers, or anything it touches.
Contact with this annoying oil produces a rash in three out of four people. The rash can begin within a few hours after contact, or even three to five days later. The rash starts with itchiness and swelling, followed by a reddish inflammation of tiny pimples. Blisters form and then couple in a chain-like reaction. This fluid then hardens to a yellowish crust. Left untreated, the rash may last three to five weeks. There is no cure for the rash once it begins, only relief of the symptoms.
While the toxic oil can be washed off with soap and water immediately after contact it becomes chemically bound and cannot be washed off after a few minutes. Also, if your child does get poison ivy rashes during the summer, it may be a good idea to try and wash anything they had in camp. The reasoning is that poison ivy oils remain potent for a long time – a year or more – so you can actually get poison ivy again long after camp ends. While some people seem to be “immune” to its poison ivy, but beware – any one can become sensitized, even if they haven’t been sensitive before. The best strategy is to teach your child to recognize this plant and AVOID IT!
Shigellosis or Shigella
One of the horror stories parents hear about camp involves outbreaks of Shigellosis or Shigella. For those unaware, shigella is a serious gastrointestinal illness that occurs about two days to one week after a person becomes infected with Shigella bacteria. The infection is very easily passed from one person to another.
The most important symptom of shigella is diarrhea, though other symptoms include abdominal cramps, high fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and painful bowel movements. It is a fairly common disease usually seen in the summer and early fall. Anyone can get shigellosis but it is seen more often in young children.
There is no vaccine to prevent shigellosis. Persons with shigellosis pass SHIGELLA bacteria in their stool, and these bacteria can contaminate surfaces at camp, in school, or elsewhere. If your child or anything that goes into his or her mouth touches a contaminated surface, they can catch shigellosis.
The most important idea to communicate to your child about shigella is that washing hands with soap and running water after using the bathroom and before eating will help prevent it.
Once the child arrives at camp, he or she may experience some apprehension related to the new environment. Your child may experience stomachaches, headaches, or make statements about hating camp. These are all common symptoms of an age-old condition called homesickness. Fortunately, overcoming homesickness is just as common.
Actually, most campers take a few days to adjust camp and being away from home. They will miss their parents, friends and possessions. Usually this lasts for anytime from a day or two to the first week and a half of camp.
If your child calls crying about how terrible camp is, it’s likely that this is attributable to homesickness. Speak with your child about your own initial experiences and how you overcame homesickness or other similar problems. But do not calm your child by offering to bring him or her home if they don’t like it in a week or two. It may give them reason to purposely not enjoy themselves.
After a second or third phone call, you may want to call camp to determine if these bad feelings are not a passing phase. In all likelihood, they probably are. But don’t overreact to complaining calls or letters. In camp, it’s cool to hate everything. The loudest complainers are often having the best time.
Some methods of avoiding or minimizing homesickness are as follows:
- Send a letter to your children at camp before camp begins so they’ll have mail waiting when they arrive
- Allow children to pack something that reminds them of home to help them cope with their new surroundings
- Write upbeat, detailed letters with news from home. But don’t write how terribly they are missed. Rather, write how proud you are that they’re in camp
- Write often
Most camps have their own tipping policy. Some suggest extravagant sums while others shun the practice altogether. While ultimately you should go along with camp recommendations or what makes you most comfortable, consider the following. Working in a camp is generally not easy. Yet, counselors, waiters, busboys, even lifeguards work hard to insure your child’s safety and enjoyment throughout the summer.
Therefore, remember to show appreciation to the many personalities entrusted with the awesome responsibility of giving your child a terrific summer.
Please take a few minutes to write down the vital information needed to ensure a safe and happy summer for you and your favorite camper.
- Name and Address of Camp
- Camp Telephone Number
- Visiting Day Dates
- Directions to Camp
- Your Child’s Bunk Name or Number
- Your Child’s Counselors Name
- Date of Last Day of Camp
- Location of Camp Bus Stop