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Keeping Kids Safe at Summer Camp

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

Another reason to ask about activities: if your child has specific allergies.

For instance, parents of children with allergies to horses will want to know if campers will be taken horseback riding or exposed to horses on nature walks. If necessary, parents should send along Benadryl or Epi-pens for children who could suffer a serious attack if exposed to a known allergen, such as a bee sting, Gardner says.

Some camps may provide these things, but it can't hurt to send your own supplies just in case.

While parents probably will not be told about every cut, scrape, or bruise their child gets at camp, they will want to familiarize themselves with the procedure in place to deal with a serious situation, such as a broken bone or an illness. This is particularly important for parents whose children attend camps far from home.

"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.

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