Injury Research and Policy Summer Camp Research :: Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio

Summer Camp Safety

About 11 million children and young adults attend summer camp each year. While there are many advantages to spending time at summer camp, there is, as always, the possibility of injury. In order to have the safest and most rewarding experience, it is important to choose the right camp for your child and to take a few suggested precautions.

Tips For Choosing A Camp

  • Look for camps that are accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA).
  • Make sure the camp director’s background meets ACA minimum standards.
  • Find a camp whose philosophy and program emphasis will be a good fit for your child.
  • Make sure the camp follows state laws regarding car seats, booster seats and seatbelts when transporting children.
  • Check references of the camp you are considering.

Questions To Ask About A Camp

Click here for a printable list of the questions.

  • What is the counselor-to-camper ratio?
  • What are the ages of the camp’s counselors, and what training do they receive?
  • How does the camp handle behavioral and disciplinary issues, special needs, emergencies, homesickness and other adjustment issues?
  • How is medication handled?
  • Does the camp have written health policies and procedures that have been approved by a pediatrician or family physician?
  • Are camp staff members trained in CPR and concussion recognition and management?
  • Does the camp provide and require the use of safety equipment such as helmets for horseback riding, cycling, football, skateboarding and other activities?

Preparing For Camp

  • Pack with safety in mind.
    • The type of shoe matters. Trips and falls are the leading causes of injury at camp. Leave the Crocs and flip flops at home and take tennis shoes instead. If you send flip flops, tell your child they are only for wearing at the pool or in the shower.
    • Label medicines and inhalers with your child’s name and instructions for how and when they should be used.
    • Send 30 SPF sunscreen. Teach your child to put the sunscreen on in the morning and after any water sports.
    • Pack a reusable water bottle. Tell your child to carry it and drink from it regularly.
  • Talk with your child about what to expect.
    • Review the camp’s activities with your child.
    • Tell your child to listen to counselors and follow camp rules.
    • Teach your child to ask staff members for help.
    • Remind your child that it is important to get enough sleep.
  • Take care on the first day.
    • Introduce your child to the person responsible for medical care.
    • Make sure counselors are aware of your child’s allergies and medication needs.
    • Keep your child home if he or she is sick. Many camp illnesses are brought to camp from the outside.

Packing Checklist

Click here for a printable packing list.

When packing for camp, remember to include the following safety-related items:

  • Antibacterial hand sanitizer
  • Sunscreen with 30 SPF
  • Lip balm
  • Bug spray
  • Sterile wipes
  • Adhesive bandages
  • Needed medications (such as asthma inhalers and allergy medications) labeled with your child’s name
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Baseball hat
  • Tennis shoes
  • Sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection
  • Reusable water bottle

Summer Camp Injury Facts

  • Overall, the risk of injury while at camp is low and compares to similar youth activities like sports or playing on playgrounds.
  • Injuries happen most often during scheduled camp activities that are supervised.
  • The risk of injury increases when camp lasts 14 or more days.


 

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