When parents send their children off to camp, health and safety are a primary concern. The Camping Association of Nova Scotia and camps across the province recognize this. The CANS Standards, by which accredited camps must abide, are geared to effectively encourage the promulgation of exceptional health and saftey practices. Indeed, Section III of the Accreditation Manual is entirely dedicated to Health. Furthermore, there is federal and provincial legislation that all camps must abide by.
Below, we have identified several items that are particularily applicable to campers heading off to camp and their parents. This list is by no means exhaustive; however, it does point out some of the most important health and safety concerns. Moreover, while it is important to educate your camper about health and safety, be careful not to over-educate them. That is, do not make them afraid to have a good time at camp for fear that they may get hurt. Sending a child to camp is a three-way relationship: between the parents and the camper, the camper and the camp, and the camp and the parents. Speak with prospective camps, learn their health and safety policies, and ask questions. A good camp should be able to talk passionately and at length about everything they do to ensure that the campers have a fun, healthy, and safe experience.
Children will be children. While many adults would think twice about sharing a glass of water with a new friend, most children do not. At camp, children are in close proximity to each other allowing for the easy transmission of germs. Counsellors do their utmost to ensure that hygiene practices are carried out; however, it is recommended that parents discuss hygiene with their children before they go to camp. Campers should be encouraged to wash their hands regularily, and not share drinks and food. Naturally, there is only so much that parents and counsellors can do in this regard, but every little bit helps!
The World Health Organization recently declared the H1N1 Flu Virus to be a pandemic influenza virus. As of June 19, 2009, there have been 91 confirmed cases in Nova Scotia. The recommended precautions against H1N1 are as follows:
Wash your hands often and thoroughly in warm, soapy water or use hand sanitizer
Cough and sneeze in your arm, not your hand
Keep common surfaces and items clean and disinfected
Stay home if you’re sick, unless directed to seek medical care
Counsellors will continually promote such practices; however, it is best if parents are also proactive and discuss the matter with their camper beforehand.
Click here to view the CANS Proposed Guidelines Regaring Infuenza A (H1N1) – Swine Flu document
Many agree that summer is the best time of year. Unfortunately, with the warm weather also comes a number of not so welcome friends. Mosquitoes, black flies, deer flies, horse flies, and ticks are almost as much a part of the camping experience as campfires. While one is arguably not “camping” unless they have a few bug bites, it is highly recommended that all possible measures are taken to protect your camper against biting insects. Mosquitoes are capable of transmitting the West Nile virus and ticks can carry the Borrelia genus of bacteria, which causes Lyme disease.
It is recommended that you encourage your camper to wear an insect repellant that contains DEET. In addition, wearing long sleeves and pants instead of shorts and a t-shirt (temperature permitting) also helps to keep the bugs at bay. When it comes to ticks, teach your camper to avoid walking through tall grass where possible. Moreoever, consider showing them how to tuck your pant cuffs into your socks and then spraying your shoes and socks with an extra spray of insect repellant to ward off ticks. Doing “tick checks” at the end of the day is also recommend. Lastly, if your camper has a fear of bats and spiders remind them that they too help to keep those ‘Skeeters’ away!
Part of the camping experience is being outdoors in the sunshine. However, as you know, today more than ever before, being out in the sun for extended periods of time carries significant risks. The best defence against sunburn is wearing a sunscreen that has a high SPF. The sunscreen that you send along with your camper should have a minimum SPF of 30 (15 and lower is no good) and should be waterproof and sweatproof. In fact, it is recommended that you obtain a sunscreen with the highest SPF possible. SPF 45 or higher is optimal. In addition, wearing clothing that is covering (light-weight long sleeve shirts, hats, etc.) is also beneficial. Counsellors will ensure that each camper has adequately protected against the sun; however, the more campers that truly understand how important it is, the better. We encourage you to educate your camper about protecting him or herself from the sun before they head off on their adventure.
For more information please visit Health Canada – Sun Safety
Being outdoors and being physically active means that the body is using up its resources faster than it might back home. Water is the most important resource. The camps will endeavour to ensure that campers are adequately fed and have plenty of water to drink. Nevertheless, let your camper know that it is okay to ask for a drink of water. Staying hydrated in the hot sun is extraordinarily important and the counsellors will be more than happy to help out in this regard.
Matters relating to heat exhaustion and heat stroke likely apply more so to older campers who are more capable of “taking care of themselves” and neglect to take the necessary precautions to ensure that they remain healthy throughout the day. Again, camps will do their best to ensure that all campers are adequately taken care of and no camper should ever be in danger of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Nevertheless, it is still important to stress the importance of staying hydrated and not over doing it at camp. Have a drink of water, take a breather in the shade, and then go back and have fun!
Many camps feature activites that take place in, on, under, or by water. Such camps are required to have Lifeguarding staff and/or staff trained in the use of and pedogodical methods for teaching campers about canoes, kayaks, and sailboats. If your camper is not a strong swimmer, inform the camp director. Moreover, talk to your camper and let them know that it is okay to wear lifejackets (PFD’s). Water activities can be a lot of fun, but just make sure that your camper is aware of the risks.
Many campers are required to take daily medication or have allergies that may require the administration of an Epi-Pen should the need arise. Fully discuss your camper’s medical requirements with the camp. Feel free to ask as many questions as you feel necessary. For example, ask them about their system of administering medications. Also, the more that your camper knows about his or her health the better.
This summer has seen a lot more concerns regarding coyotes in Nova Scotia than previous summers. For this reason, the Government of Nova Scotia website has provided coyote information for NS Campers and residents. You can click here to read this information on their site.