Summer Camps: Benefits and Safety Tips

The school year is coming to a close and summer camp season is about to kick off! Summer is many children’s favorite season and summer camps are often one of the most memorable events. There are many benefits to participating in camp programs, however, there are a few important safety tips parents should be mindful of as they plan for these activities.

Whether your child participates in a summer day camp, or sleepaway camp there are many benefits to these enriching programs. Of course, children will have fun away from mom, dad, and homework, and parents will enjoy a bit of a break from keeping their kids occupied during the day- more importantly, these programs can play a key role in your child’s overall wellness and development. Some notable benefits are:

Increased Independence

Camp is a wonderful time for little ones to explore making their own choices. They are presented with moments throughout the day to develop their sense of self by deciding what to do with their free time and spending time with their peers without the guidance or observation of parents.

Skill Development

Many camps allow children the opportunity to focus on a skill they are truly interested in and grow their skills in that area. For instance STEM and STEAM camps, art camps, and camps for specific sports are popular. Children will also increase their social skills by making new friends, learning how to resolve conflicts, and in many camps children will often work as a team. 

Emotional Growth

Increased independence and skill development leads to emotional growth. Little ones attending day camps, and older children attending sleepaway camps will learn that they can do big things on their own. This constructive time away from parents can help them learn how to regulate their own emotions, and solve problems on their own. Campers will have many chances to try new things and meet new people, which helps take them out of their comfort zones.

Stronger Connection to Nature and Less Screen Time

Summer days are made for adventure. When children interact with nature, they learn to appreciate the world around them and develop meaningful connections that will encourage them to develop healthy habits such as walking daily and taking care of their environment. Being outdoors and exploring nature during summer camps is a great way to get kids to enjoy unplugging from their devices. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting screen use to no more than one hour for children over the age of two. Further, outdoor play allows children to use all of their senses to build spatial awareness skills and more, the power of play cannot be denied.

Building confidence

Every step your child takes to increase their independence, develop skills, grow emotionally and connect with nature helps them gain a better sense of self-esteem. All of the gains they will achieve during their summer camp experience can fill them with pride and keep them encouraged as they approach the new school year ahead.

Top 3 Summer Camp Safety Tips

1. Drink Plenty of Water

As you well know, summers across the southeast are gorgeous but they can get extremely hot. When the heat index is at or above 90 degrees, there is a significant health risk. Therefore, it is important to encourage your children to stay well hydrated and drink water. There are a number of heat-related illnesses that can occur if your child does not drink plenty of fluids when enjoying summer play. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends about five cups of water throughout the day for children ages four to eight, and seven-eight cups of water for older children.

2. Get a Checkup

Some summer camps will ask for completion of a sports physical, while others don’t require one. In either case, it is important to discuss your child’s upcoming summer activities with their primary care provider. Urgent Care for Children’s convenient offering of camp physicals allows you to complete this requirement, if needed, at a time and clinic that works best for you.

If your child has specific needs the camp needs to be aware of, such as asthma or allergies, use this helpful tool to create an emergency action plan to share with your camp administrators. This is especially important for children with food allergies. Pediatric campers with food allergies are at greater risk for exposure and anaphylaxis when outside their usual environment. Children with food allergies represent about 8% of the pediatric population, with nearly 40% of those children having a history of severe reaction requiring immediate intervention. It’s also important to avoid changing your child’s regular prescriptions during or before camp. Camp is not a good place to find out that medication changes are not going well.  

3. Pack Properly

If your child is in sleepaway camp, or simply off to spend these long summer days exploring nature, make sure they have appropriate footwear. The Healthy Camp Study Impact Report, compiled by the American Camp Association, shares that sprained or strained ankles are the most common camp injuries. Closed-toe shoes are recommended to help avoid slips and falls that can lead to injury. Summer is also tick season, kids should wear light-colored, lightweight pants tucked into socks if they will spend any time hiking. Ticks will be easier to see and the clothing will provide a barrier between the insect and their skin.

We hope your children have a summer filled with fun, friendship and lasting memories! As part of our commitment to providing a continuum of care to the children we serve, Urgent Care for Children is now offering sports physicals. We’re standing by in 20 convenient locations across Alabama, Tennessee and Louisana to deliver quality pediatric urgent care should your child incur any minor illness or injury during the summer, late nights and weekends.