4 Tips for a Safe and Healthy Summer Camp
Summer camp is a childhood staple. It’s where kids go to play, to learn, and to socialize when school is not in session. Over the last few years, school nurses and camp staff have needed to adapt and take new measures to prioritize the wellness of campers and counselors.
Here are some of our top tips for creating a safe and healthy summer camp that will be remembered for years to come.
Work Together to Establish Safety Guidelines
Every camp is different. While some camps have full-time nurses, others rely on athletic trainers, nurse assistants, or medical consultants for advice and emergencies. Whatever your role, it’s important to partner with camp staff both before and during camp to help establish protocols and procedures for camper safety. Nurse’s voices carry a lot of weight — make yours heard!
Charlotte Country Day School (Charlotte, North Carolina) is a good example of this. Wendy Barber, RN meets with the camp director in early January to start thinking about summer camp. They work together to establish protocols for medication administration, COVID-19 precautions, and parent communication. Once camp registration begins, they meet frequently to discuss individual students’ needs. Barber remains available throughout the summer as a nurse consultant, providing guidance on a case-by-case basis.
This partnership respects Barber’s time and expertise while also ensuring the camp abides by CDC and state guidelines.
Make a Plan to Reduce the Spread of Illness
The past few summers have been heavily impacted by COVID-19. According to the American Camping Association, 40% of day camps closed in 2020 due to health and safety concerns related to the coronavirus. While new precautions and vaccinations are readily available, it’s still important to think ahead and decide how you will handle illnesses like COVID and RSV so you can limit the spread and enjoy a long summer together.
Westchester Day School (Mamaroneck, New York) relies on the Magnus Health mobile app to help keep their summer campers safe. They use the daily health screening feature to test campers for symptoms through a temperature check and short questionnaire. Parents can use the app at home to test their children and send them to camp with confidence.
Get Organized and Increase Form Compliance
Summer camp paperwork typically includes a camper’s medical history, allergy action plan, emergency contacts, and consent to treat forms. While this information is essential, it can be both hard to gather and hard to keep track of!
Charlotte Country Day utilizes Magnus Health to electronically collect camper documents. Parents can upload their paperwork via the mobile app, attach photos of physician-signed forms, and easily share health history forms on-the-go. This method saves parents and staff valuable time, increases compliance and completion of required forms, and helps to improve parent communication.
“A huge advantage to running all the summer camps through Magnus is that it’s easier with the automatic reminders to get those forms in,” says Barber. “It’s easy to upload them on the phone; it’s easy because we have our athletics department, our nursing department, camp programs, facilities services… all of those admins can access that information. Anyone can pull any list based on what they need and we all have the same information. It’s ideal to have all of the camper information in one place.”
Prepare for Emergencies
Emergencies happen every day — and it’s good to be prepared when they do. As you start to hire camp counselors and onboard staff, make sure to train them on all possible medical emergencies. Provide an overview of different situations like epi-pen administration, signs of seizures, and diabetic protocols to help the staff feel comfortable and prepared in the case of any such event. If your camp communicates via walkie-talkies, make sure to train staff on proper procedures and codes for reliant and efficient communication.
Additionally, an emergency response system like Magnus 911 grants nurses and camp staff instant access to camper info when needed. Parents can upload their child’s emergency contacts, action plans, and other life-saving information for authorized medical professionals to access instantly.
It’s helpful for employees, too. Charlotte Country Day School uses Magnus to screen camp staff for CPR certifications and make sure everyone is up-to-date. They also upload employee health information to Magnus so they can assist their employees in case of an emergency like out-of-control blood pressure. “It’s super helpful to have their information readily available like that,” says Barber.