The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a policy statement today with recommendations for a healthy and safe summer at camp. The statement has been reviewed and is supported by the American Camp Association and the Association of Camp Nursing and provides guidelines intended for families, primary health care providers, camp administration and health center staff.
Highlights of the statement from the AAP include:
Benefits of camp – When there is a successful match between a camp’s philosophy, practices and methods and a child’s developmental, experiential and temperamental readiness, abilities and nature, the camp experience has proven to have a lasting effect on psychosocial development, with positive effects on self-esteem, peer relationships, independence, leadership values and willingness to try new things. Camps also offer the opportunity to connect with nature, which a lack of has been associated with depression, attention disorders and obesity. Research has also shown that summer camps are safe.
Health record- It’s important for children to provide the camp with a complete health record, including information on a child’s annual physical examination, prior to starting camp.
Immunizations- All campers and staff should be in compliance with the recommended childhood immunization schedule published annually by the AAP, the CD and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Immunization requirements provide a safe environment for those participating. Nonmedical exemptions to required immunizations are inappropriate and these exemptions should be eliminated by camps. Participation by campers and staff who are incompletely immunized because of nonmedical exemptions is inappropriate for individual, public health and ethical reasons. Camps should support medical exemptions to specific immunizations as determined for each individual.
Mental/Emotional/Social health needs – Camp staff should be trained to respond to camper mental, emotional and social health needs. Many children who attend camp will have had a diagnosis of ADHD, autism, spectrum disorder or eating disorders. Camps should consider using a camp social worker who can assist with psychosocial concerns.
Written health policies – All camps should have written health policies and protocols that have been reviewed and approved by a physician with training in children’s health. These policies should be tailored to the training and scope of practice of the on-site camp health care provider.
Medications – All medications should be stored properly and transported properly for out of camp trips.
Illnesses and injuries – All illnesses and injuries should be documented and be consistent with state or local licensing requirements and allow for surveillance of the camp illness and injury profile.
On-Site First Aid – It’s important for all camps to have personnel who can administer on site first aid. A health care provider or staff member with the appropriate training must be on duty at all times.
Food allergies – Those who are responsible for care of campers with food allergies should receive hands on training and camps should create and provide food allergy policies to their families before camp starts.
“The ACA, NY and NJ is thrilled with the guidelines the American Academy of Pediatrics has released. The health and safety of campers is the foundation of what our organization represents,” says Susie Lupert, Executive Director of the American Camp Association, NY and NJ. “We want to ensure that every parent choosing a camp is making an educated choice and recognizes the aspects of a safe summer camp environment. When parents choose an accredited camp, they know that the camp is committed to providing a safe environment for their child.”
The complete policy statement can be viewed at: https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2019/06/13/peds.2019-1355
The American Camp Association, NY and NJ
The American Camp Association, New York and New Jersey (ACA, NY and NJ) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving, promoting, and enhancing the quality of the summer camp experience. ACA provides advocacy, evidence-based education, and professional development and is the only independent, national accrediting body for the organized camp experience. Accreditation provides public evidence of a camp’s voluntary commitment to the health, safety, and overall well-being of both campers and staff. For more information, visit www.acanynj.org