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Keeping Kids Safe at Summer Camp

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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.

Gardner says any food allergies -- or anything the parent does not want the child to eat, for religious or other reasons -- should be clearly communicated to the camp staff. For instance, if a child must avoid sweets because of diabetes or a weight problem, the parents should make sure the camp can handle those requests.

The American Camping Association also advises parents to ask about the type of transportation used at the camp (vans, buses, etc.) and how often those vehicles are inspected by qualified mechanics.

Finally, if you think about it long enough, you can probably come up with dozens of different things that could happen to your child while he or she is away at camp. But Gardner says if you do your homework and feel confident with the level of experience and training of the camp staff, you will be much more likely to relax and let your child enjoy the summer vacation.

"Camp is a wonderful experience," he says. "It's great for kids, and they need some slack in the summer."

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