“No more pencils, no more books;” if there’s one thing kids get most excited about when it comes to school, we’d bet it’s summer vacation! With their newfound increase of free time, summer months are a popular time when many kids pack their bags for the great outdoors, by attending summer camps. As their parent, you send your children off to camp knowing they will be cared for and well looked after by their counselors but what can you do to help your child stay safe before they leave? While not all summer camps have the same pre-participation requirements for their campers, the Children’s Wellness Center pediatricians want to share the importance of camp physicals for children and teens and what you should know before you go to help them have a healthy, safe, and fun-filled summer.
Even if your summer camp doesn’t require a camp physical prior to starting camp, we’re firm believers in parents bringing their kids in to see their pediatrician for extra peace of mind. Kids get to participate in a lot of activities when they’re at camp, some indoor-related and others outdoor-related, including swimming, hiking, rock climbing, archery, canoeing, rafting, to name a few. Camp physicals let the people in charge of your child’s supervision know that they are indeed healthy enough to safely participate in these types of physically-engaging sports and activities. If there is a particular underlying health concern or pre-existing condition, like asthma or diabetes, that would make it unsafe for your child to participate, then they should most certainly know that beforehand so these health issues don’t worsen over time or have your child spending their summer in chronic pain or discomfort.
Camp physicals determine one of three things:
- Your child can participate in a camp activity without limitations
- Your child can participate in certain camp activities (not all) but has limitations due to a health concern
- Your child should not participate in camp activities
When you bring your child in for their camp physical, we’ll start with reviewing your child’s and family medical history as this helps us to identify potential health problems, like heart issues, or injuries that can be recurring like sprains, muscle tears, or broken bones. We’ll discuss medications that your child may be currently taking or has taken in the past, conduct a physical exam to check their heart, lungs, abdomen, ears, eyes, throat, vision, etc., to see if there are any indicators that your child’s participation in summer camp activities could be unsafe to their health, or worse, life-threatening. To conclude the camp physical, we’ll determine if your child is all clear to enjoy their summer camp experiences or help implement a treatment plan for a medical concern we may identify. The key here is to make sure your child gets to camp safely in hopes they return home with a summer full of great memories.