Another school year is nearly at an end and many parents and kids are planning for summer camps. The Buffalo area boasts camps featuring different themes such as drama, art, sports, cooking, and a variety of outdoor activities.
Stephanie Page, M.D., a board-certified pediatrician with Lifetime Health Medical Group in Rochester, notes parents may want to explore the different options based on the interests and physical abilities of their children. It is also important to consider the age of the child when choosing a camp. For younger children, day camps offer a perfect chance to enjoy activities and learn some independence. Older children may be considering longer camps and possibly overnight experiences. Dr. Page doesn’t recommend children under 10 years old participate in sleep-away camp, and for the child’s first away experience, try a short camp of three to five nights and consider sending them with a close friend.
“We’re extremely fortunate to have camps designed for kids with special needs and chronic illnesses,” adds Dr. Page. “These camps provide a safe and fun environment for children, and give parents a well-needed and deserved week off to rest and recharge.”
Children should also have some unstructured time in the summer to offset the heavy structure of the school year. “Kids should have some time to just kick back and relax,” she says. “Try not to over-structure their summer.” She also notes it’s important to try to make time for activities siblings can share, especially for children several years apart who may not see each other as much throughout the school year.
When sending kids off to camp, Page recommends a physical (and most camps require them). “Make sure vaccinations are up to date, especially tetanus, but also we might recommend a 9 or 10 year old who will be sleeping away at camp receive the vaccination against meningitis sooner than the standard age of 11 since they’ll be sharing close quarters,” she says.
Additional camp safety tips for children from Dr. Page include:
Also discuss with your children basic safety rules such as staying in groups of two or more (never go anywhere alone), following the camp’s rules and not using equipment unsupervised or in a way they were not instructed to. For camps with water features, children should know never to swim alone, unsupervised or in a non-designated area.
“With some minor preparation and planning, camp can be a safe and enjoyable time,” says Dr. Page.