After hours of searching, researching and enrolling your child in just the right summer camps, you breathe a sigh of relief. But wait! Follow this checklist to make sure you’ve planned for your child’s health and safety this summer.

Physical Exams and Immunization Requirements

Look at the forms issued by each camp to determine medical requirements. Some camps, such as sports camps, require a physical exam before camp starts.
If a physical exam is required, call and schedule the appointment with your child’s pediatrician. If an exam is not required but your child is due for a well-child visit, schedule it. This is your chance to identify any undiagnosed medical issue before camp starts.

If an office visit is not needed, locate your child’s immunization record or contact your pediatrician for a current copy. Ask the nurse to verify that your child is up to date on all immunizations. If not, make an appointment for the needed shots. If you are concerned about immunization safety, schedule an appointment with your child’s pediatrician to discuss. The American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stress the importance of immunizations in preventing serious illness or even death.

Check the number of refills for medicines your child may need while at camp. Sometimes a doctor’s visit is required before certain medicines can be refilled.
Carefully complete any forms required for medicines. Camp personnel need to know when, how much and how often to give a medicine.
Learn about each camp’s policies on medicines. Some camps have very strict policies. For example, at some camps even cough drops or an itch relief stick must be stored in the nurse’s office and given only by authorized personnel.
If your child has a chronic illness, such as diabetes or a severe allergy, call and discuss this with the camp director or nurse. Many camps have specific forms, such as a Medical Action Plan, which gives specific directions about what to do if your child has a medical emergency. Sometimes, personnel may need special training, such as how to help someone use an epi-pen or asthma inhaler. If your child will go on field trips, discuss how the medicine will be transported and stored, and who is authorized to give the medicine offsite.

Sun Protection and Bug Spray

Stock up on sun protection. And before you buy, ensure you have the latest information. Not all products provide enough protection for both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays.

Buy bug spray if your child will be outdoors. Active ingredients to look for are DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) and para-menthane-diol (PMD). Notice how long the product works. Some only last an hour. Don’t buy combo sunscreen/bug spray, because sunscreen must be reapplied every 2 hours and is often needed when bug spray isn’t.

Here are some common myths about sunscreen and what you need to know:

Myth: All sunscreens protect against harmful rays.

Fact: Many sunscreens protect against UVB rays but not UVA rays. Yet UVA rays are more damaging. Look for “broad spectrum” protection and the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation on the label.

Myth: Ingredients in sunscreen don’t matter.

Fact: Your child needs a combination of chemical ingredients (which absorb UV rays) and physical ingredients (which deflect UV rays). Chemical ingredients include avobenzone and benzophenone; physical ingredients include titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

Myth: Sprays are as good as cream.

Fact: You should use a cream, not a spray, which can’t be applied heavily enough for adequate protection. One ounce of sunscreen (enough to fill a shot glass) is considered enough by American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).

Myth: The higher the SPF (sun protection factor), the longer my child can go without reapplying.

Fact: Higher SPF doesn’t mean protection will last longer. No matter what the SPF, sunscreens are only effective for 2 hours or less. (Check the label.) The AAD recommends an SPF of 30 or higher. Some experts caution against using an SPF higher than 50 on a child because of the extra ingredients in these products.

Myth: Sunscreen is all my child needs for sun protection.

Fact: In addition to sunscreen, your child needs sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays, a wide brimmed hat and lip balm with SPF 30 protection. Keep in mind that the best protection is to stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.


Brenda Schoolfield is a freelance medical writer who splits her time between Austin and Seattle.

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