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Keeping Kids Safe at Summer Camp

What, Exactly, Will Your Kid Be Doing? continued...

"We do have a release statement that allows us to seek emergency medical treatment while we are making efforts to contact the parent," says Cathy Robillard, executive director of City Kids Camp in Jackson Hole, WY, a summer camp for financially challenged youth from Washington, D.C.

"If we are unable to find a parent or one of the emergency contacts listed on the form, we proceed with whatever medical care is needed for that child and continue to try to reach the parents," Robillard says.

Some camps have a high risk of injury because of the nature of the activities provided.

Sara Seeman's 17-year-old daughter has been attending annual gymnastics camps at Woodward Camp in Pennsylvania since she was 9. The sports camp also features extreme skateboarding, in-line skating, and freestyle BMX biking.

Seeman, who lives in Rochester, N.Y., says knowing that full-time nurses are on staff at the camp gives her peace of mind, especially since she is a four-hour drive away.

"There is a lot of room for injury in a gymnastics camp. But they tell you in the brochures they send what the nearest hospital is, how far away it is, what town it's in, etc.," she says. "She's never been ill so I honestly never gave it too much thought, other than emergency care she might need if she broke an arm or a leg."

But Seeman, whose daughter is recovering from a recent bout of meningitis, says this recent health scare made her stop taking her child's previously good health for granted.

What's the Prescription for Handling Medications?

Parents who must send medication to camp with their child should know who supervises such things and what the rules are regarding over-the-counter drugs. Robillard says her camp discourages parents from sending nonprescription medications -- but if children do bring these, they must be handed over and taken under supervision.

"It's a good policy," says Gardner. "But some parents will tell the child, 'They might not let you have a Tylenol when you need it, so hide these when you get there.' It's best if the people at the camp know of anything the child has with them, be it allergy medication, pain relievers, or vitamins."

As long as the staff is aware of what the child has with them, he says, parents should feel free to send any nonprescription medications the child might need during their stay at camp.

It's also worth checking out whether the camp has a policy on other items you might want to send to camp with your kids, such as bug spray, sunscreen, and calamine lotion for poison ivy.

More Food for Thought

Another concern for some parents is what their child will eat at camp.

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