Before sending your child to day camp, here are ten last-minute suggestions for keeping your child safe and happy while they play and explore.
Keep ‘Em Cool
Pack one bottle of water that has been chilled in the refrigerator and a second one that has been in the freezer. As the day wears on, the frozen water will melt and provide cool refreshment for your child. Including a spray bottle is a great idea too, since it will keep the face and body cool in the hot sun while providing some extra entertainment.
Apply sunscreen to your child’s skin before he or she leaves home and send the tube along for later reapplication. Don’t send tanning lotion with little or no SPF, since the goal for camp day is to avoid a nasty sunburn. Consider sending along a hat and sunglasses for extra protection.
Let’s be real here, mosquitos are something else! Insect repellent is a must, especially if camp extends into the evening hours. Spring for a repellent lotion instead of a spray for easier application and less of a chance your child sprays their eyes. After he or she returns from camp, conduct a tick check to be on the safe side.
Ride in Style
Before your child runs out the door, give them a good once-over to make sure they are wearing appropriate camp attire. Dark clothing and long sleeves are a definite no-no, along with improper shoes like sandals and flip-flops. Picking the right clothes will keep your child safe, comfortable, and cool while they are out and about. Clean socks and a solid pair of tennis shoes will take them far.
Lost and Found
Losing and mixing up clothing is a rite of passage for many young camp goers, but a headache for you. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to avoid this. All items brought to camp, including clothing and bags, should have your child’s name on it and your phone number. If anything gets left behind or accidentally put in some other camper’s bag, chances are you will get it back a lot easier.
Time to Unplug
While it will certainly be difficult for your child to unplug, going to camp usually means leaving behind the handheld console and cell phone. Since camp programs are meant to be enriching and engaging, cell phones and games are an unneeded distraction. Check your child’s bag and pockets before they leave to make sure they don’t sneak anything in that will get confiscated.
Aches and Pains of Paperwork
Nobody likes filling them out, but the forms that list your child’s allergies and daily medications are better filled out than left alone. If you plan to take your child off of a medication during the summer, the camp will need to know this since it could cause a dramatic change in behavior. Any concerns you may have about recent grievances that may affect how your child behaves at camp are also good things to mention to the staff.
Listing all allergies, even those related to medication, are important too. If an emergency does happen, camp staff will have to tell emergency personnel what they know about your child’s medical history and needs, especially if you cannot be reached.
Speaking of being unable to reach, be sure to set up reliable emergency contacts. Whoever you decide to include as an extra pickup person or emergency contact, make sure you tell them that you have written their name down.
Unfortunately, an issue that commonly arises during an emergency situation is that the designated contact does not know they were assigned this role. Make sure you get the person’s permission before writing their name and information on the form.
Don’t skip out on the reading materials the camp sends you. All of their policies, procedures, schedules, and planned activities will be included along with what is expected of you as the parent. The more you know, the more you’ll be prepared to address any problems that come up.
For example, if for any reason there is an activity he or she cannot participate in, include a note or make a call to inform the camp. Do not rely on your child to explain this to the staff, as they may be too shy, or forget, or the staff may be suspicious as to why they are trying to skip out on an activity.
Finally, really encourage your child to enjoy the experience. If it’s their first day of camp ever or their fourth year attending, they will still be a little nervous. Make it an exciting experience by marking the first day of camp on the calendar and doing a countdown celebration. For anxious campers, make a checklist to ensure they don’t forget to pack anything. Lastly, be open and share about your days at camp and remind them to follow the rules, respect their peers and the staff, and have fun!