Day Camp Countdown: 9 Tips Before the Summer Fun Begins

Suggestions to make sure each day is smooth and successful.
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Camp season is around the corner. Before sending your child to day camp, here are some suggestions to make sure each day is smooth and successful.

1. Fill’er up.
Bring one bottle of water that has been cooled in the refrigerator and a second one that has been in the freezer.

2. It’s a scorcher.
Apply sunscreen to your child’s skin before he leaves home and send the tube along for later application. Consider sending along a hat for extra protection.

3. Bug off.
If your child is going to be out in a natural environment, he should wear insect repellent. Look for a lotion form that is safe for children; avoid sprays. When camp is over, follow up with a tick check for safe keeping.

4. All decked out.
Some kids want to pick out their own clothes, but if they have chosen black jeans and a dark T-shirt, it may not be the best option. Dress your child for comfort, safety and appropriate temperatures. Proper shoes are important too, particularly if he is playing outside. Avoid strappy sandals and flip flops; opt for tennis shoes.

5. Name it and claim it.
Any item brought to camp should have your child’s name, address and phone number on it in case it gets left behind. It also avoids confusion if identical items are brought by two children.

6. Time out from tech toys.
Do not bring valuable items such as handheld games or cell phones. Day camp programs are designed to provide an enriching experience, and your child should be engaging in these activities rather than playing with electronics.

7. Pills, pains and other problems.
All camps have forms for parents to list medications their child is on. But if you take your child off a medication for the summer, the camp needs to know that too, because it could cause an extreme change in behavior.

Allergies are another issue to make counselors aware of, be it insect or food related. Equally important is to share other concerns with camp staff, such as if your family is going through a divorce or has experienced a recent death, as this might affect how your child interacts throughout the day. Camps look out for the physical and emotional needs of a child, so the more information you provide, the better equipped they will be.

8. Help is on the way.
Having an emergency contact person is vital. Even more important is that the designated person knows you have written his or her name down.

9. Read the fine print.
Read the materials the camp gives you — policies, procedures and planned activities. If you know what to expect and what is expected of you, things will run much smoother. Most camps have a weekly schedule so parents know what the upcoming activities are. Talk with your child about the activities planned.

Finally, encourage your child to enjoy the experience. Mark the first day of camp on the family calendar and do a countdown. Help your child develop a checklist of items needed. And don’t forget to share your own camp stories. Remind your child to do his best, obey the rules, be respectful of others and have a great time!

Denise Yearian is the former editor of two parenting magazines and the mother of three children.

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