Deciding which summer camp to send your child to isn’t always easy, but before even deciding where your child should go, parents need to prepare their kids for the experience.
Dr. Heidi Cohen, assistant medical director for children at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, provided some tips on injuries that can happen at summer camp and what parents should know before sending their child there. Dr. Claudia Ranaldo, child psychologist at Jackson Memorial Hospital, added some information on the psychological part of summer camp and how it can help your child adapt to various cultures.
Accidents or other mishaps happen, and while it’s preferred that kids stay safe, parents should anticipate injuries.
“Camp is an active place, so kids experienced injuries all the time,” said Cohen. “Injuries like twisted ankles from running or head trauma from slipping at the pool area,” she added.
Summer camp is around the corner and the doctor advises parents to take their children to the pediatrician for a checkup. Campers may get sick because of outdoor activities and close living conditions. If they are staying at an overnight camp, parents need to make sure their child’s vaccines are updated.
“Tetanus vaccine, Pertussis vaccine, Hepatitis A and other vaccinations are needed to help prevent against diseases and sickness that your child could be exposed to at camp,” said Cohen.
Cohen was a camp director for 10 years and believes the purpose for summer camp is for children to go out and enjoy experiences outside. “Camp is a place for kids to be kids; kids need to see outside and have fun,” she said.
When it comes to information on the food provided, staff ratio to children and the experience of the counselors, Cohen said it depends on the camp. Each camp has its guidelines and details dealing with those areas, so parents should ask these questions before enrollment.
Summer camps are ideal places to help children improve their psychosocial development. Ranaldo said summer camp is a place where a child can build social skills because of increased opportunity to interact with other children there.
“Children get the chance to meet diverse children from various backgrounds and culture; kids experience activities with one another and that helps build their social skills,” said Ranaldo.
Generally, summer camp can help work on team building. “Research has shown that kids at camp participating together to work on a common goal can help build a relationship, no matter the race, culture or ethnicity,” she added.
Kids are also able to build new relationships, not just with other kids, but with dependable adults other than their parents. “They’re able to discuss and consult with a caretaker on their own for whatever they need, that’s not their parents,” she said.