canoeSummer camp is a great place for your child to create memories that will last a lifetime—making friends, learning new skills, and connecting with the outdoors! Here are some steps you can take to make sure your child has a safe and healthy camp experience.

You may be concerned that your child is not ready for camp, especially if he or she has a condition such asdiabetes or food allergies, or are very young. Before choosing a camp, make sure your child is ready. Talk to your child and evaluate his or her interests, abilities, and his or her overall physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Consider these factors when choosing a camp.

See Your Child’s Doctor

Before sending your camper off, you will want to take your child to the doctor for a thorough exam. Provide the camp with a complete review of your child’s health. The review should include information about recent or ongoing illnesses, surgeries or injuries, and allergies. Make sure your child is current with all recommended immunizations. If your child will be traveling internationally as part of the camp, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for information about particular immunizations or health concerns for the destination.

What If My Child Has Special Needs?

If your child has a special circumstance, such as an ongoing illness, work with your child’s doctor and the camp to create a plan. Your child’s doctor can help you determine if your child is able to attend camp safely. If your child takes any medications or needs treatments, work with the camp and your child’s doctor to make a plan for how medications and treatments will be handled.

What If My Child Has Food Allergies?

If your child has a food allergy, you may worry that he or she will have a hard time choosing safe foods while at camp. Ask the camp about food storage, preparation, and cleaning policies. You may be able to send food with your child. If your child uses an epinephrine autoinjector (such as an EpiPen) to deal with allergic reactions, make sure it has not expired and he or she knows how to use it. Talk to the camp staff and be sure they know how to administer it to your child if needed.

What If My Child Gets Homesick?

Homesickness can be a concern for campers and parents alike. Take these steps to minimize homesickness:

  • Involve your child—A child who is involved in choosing and preparing for camp may be more excited and face less homesickness.
  • Be open—Discussing homesickness openly can help you and your child be realistic about what it will be like to be away from home.
  • Be positive—Encourage your child. Share your happy memories of camp when you were a child.
  • Practice—If your child is especially worried about homesickness, arrange for him or her to stay away from home with relatives or friends to practice.

Avoid making pick-up arrangements with your child. These can undermine their confidence and ability to have a good time at camp. If you are truly worried that your child will become homesick, ask the camp how they deal with homesickness.