Five Ways to Keep Your Campers Happy and Healthy

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Your kids and grandkids are now out of school and ready for the fun of summer camp. But before they dive in, make sure you’ve taken these basic preventive measures to keep their adventures safe.

1. Sun smarts. There’s nothing like a sunburn to put a damper on summer fun – and of course, no one wants to elevate their risk for skin cancer. Stock up now on sunscreen rated 15 to 50 SPF with “broad spectrum” on the label (this means it will block both types of harmful rays). Round up a hat with a brim. Ideally you want one that extends 3” around the entire head, but if you have better odds of getting your camper to wear a cap, that’s better than nothing. Consider sunglasses with UV protection for additional eye protection.

Then, start a daily sunscreen ritual. Every morning before departing for camp, apply sunscreen liberally (most of us fail here) to all exposed skin. Send sunscreen with your camper every day, with instructions to reapply every two hours and after swimming.

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2. Proper fuel. Most camps keep kids on the move, so start the day with a hearty, healthy breakfast – a bagel with peanut butter and banana, low-sugar/high fiber cereal and berries, or poached egg on an English muffin with avocado. Pack healthy snacks like celery and almond butter or cheese sticks and grapes, and lunch that supplies the energy and protein kids need. Include whole-grains, protein (hard boiled eggs, hummus, black beans, lean turkey), fruits and vegetables. More lunch ideas.

What about drinks? Younger kids need at least 7 cups of water a day to stay hydrated; teenagers need 10-14 – more in hot, humid weather and when physically active. Skip or limit sugary options like soda and lemonade.

Cool tip: At night, fill a water bottle halfway and store it in the freezer. The next morning, top off the bottle and send it with your camper.

3. Tick talk. Summer is prime time for ticks, known to carry diseases like Lyme that are harmful to people and pets. Most Maine cases of Lyme are reported from May to July,* and deer ticks are the main culprit (see how to spot them here). To reduce the threat of tick bites for outdoor campers, apply tick repellent with 10% DEET or Picaridin to skin and clothing. After camp, do a thorough tick inspection each day, keeping in mind that ticks can be as tiny as a dot and may be mistaken for moles. Check the entire body, especially the scalp, ears, nape of neck, underarms, back of knees between toes, private areas, and between the toes. If you find a tick, remove it right away. Then thoroughly wash the bite area (and your hands) with soap and water or rubbing alcohol.

“Removing a deer tick carrying Lyme within 24 hours decreases the chance of Lyme disease to under 3%,” says Torah Tomasi, M.D., a Martin’s Point Health Care pediatrician. “Call your doctor if you have questions, especially if there is an area of expanding redness around the bite or if your child develops a fever or flu-like symptoms from one to three weeks after the bite.” Monitor the area for about 30 days – if a round of oval red rash develops around the bite, seek medical advice.

*The Maine CDC reported 1,395 cases in 2014 – and experts suspect only 1 in 10 cases were reported. 

4. Medication check. Camp policy about handling prescription and over-the-counter medications for campers varies. Well before camp starts, check with camp leaders so you have time to plan accordingly. This is particularly important for kids who rely on daily prescription medicines to manage chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes, and for kids with allergies. If you’re sending medication to camp with your child, make sure contains are clearly labelled with your child’s name and dosage instructions, your pediatrician’s name and phone number, and your name and phone number.

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5. Lice control. Lice. It’s the four-letter threat all parents want to avoid. Like school, camp can be an easy place for lice to spread. Your best defense is to make sure kids understand how to prevent lice from spreading:

  • Don’t let your hair touch another person’s hair.
  • Don’t share hats, uniforms, towels, hair ribbons, barrettes, elastics, or brushes.

If you think your camper has been in contact with another child or adult infested with lice:

  • Disinfect brushes or hair items. Soak in hot water (130°F+) for 10 minutes.
  • Machine wash and dry clothing, bed linens, and other items worn or used during the two days prior to treatment. Use the hot water laundry setting and the high heat dryer setting. Anything you can’t put in the machine should be dry-cleaned or sealed in a plastic bag for two weeks.

Learn more about lice symptoms and treatment here.

Call on us!

If you have questions about keeping your camper safe, we’re happy to help. Just call your Martin’s Point Health Care provider and we’ll provide advice or set up an appointment as needed. Together, we can make it a summer to remember – for all the right reasons.

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