Saturday, July 31, 2010

Public Service Announcement

As you all know, I was at summer camp last week.  I had dinner at the Director's house one evening after a particularly busy afternoon patching up campers.  We had a great discussion about what we wish parents knew before sending their kids off to sleep away camp.   Since blogging is more fun than putting my suitcase away, I thought I would share some of what we talked about

  • Please, be honest on the health forms.  Staff don't ask questions to judge your child, they want to be able to provide the best camp experience possible.  I had an incident where a camper fainted in the heat.  We got her rehydrated and cooled off and she was fine later.  The next day the camper fainted again.  This incident was different than the first one--I could tell the camper was faking.  I called home and found out that this person will pretend to be sick to get attention or to get out of doing stuff (like going on a hike)  This is important to know!  Put it on the forms!  If you have a bedwetter or a sleep walker, if the camp staff knows ahead of time, they can be placed with the more experienced councilors who will be better equipped to handle the situation while preserving your child's dignity.
  • If you send medication with the child, label it please.  I was given a pill box with random medications in it and neither the camper nor the mother could tell me which pill was which or what dose they were. They were important medications for her to take and thankfully I was able to look them up, but this is a risky thing to do.  If you can't send meds in the original packaging, WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN please.
  • When you are packing your child for camp, get them to help.  At the very least, make sure they watch what you are putting in their bags.  The Director and I were talking about the shocking amount of really expensive clothing in the lost and found box that goes unclaimed.  It dawned on us that most of the campers probably have no idea what is theirs and what isn't since they they didn't see it go into  the suitcase.  This is especially true for boys, who will sometimes live in the same two or three smelly t-shirts for the whole week of camp.  I have seen an entire cabin's worth of clothing in one giant pile during cabin inspection Writing some initials on tags with a Sharpie or investing in some labels couldn't hurt either.
  • Consider cutting your child's ADD medication dose.  I know this is a touchy subject and I have no personal experience with ADD, but I have seen kids go off of their meds for camp and do just fine.  I had kid last year who was on a sliding dose and asked me for exactly what he needed every morning at breakfast (he always chose the half dose and did great). This year I watched a child plead with his mom during my registration interview.  He wanted his dose cut but she wouldn't even consider it.  It was very hard to watch this.  I know it is hard to quit those drugs cold turkey, but kids are running around so much at camp, that they often don't have the same problems with focusing and paying attention that they do at school since they get so tired out the old fashioned way. 
Do I have any former camp councilors reading this?  Did I miss anything?


Jen said...

I'm a former camp counselor, and I echo all of your comments, especially the labeling (of both meds and clothes). Counselors, while they care A LOT about the kids, can't remember which clothes and other goods belong to each child.

The only other thing I would add is don't bring anything valuable, irreplaceable or really expensive - things can and do get lost.

Jen in ON

Anonymous said...

I only have two kids of my own, and I still can't identify what belongs to us in the daycare's lost and found... who can expect a kid to be able to? LOL