The Importance Of Disclosing Allergies & Special Needs For Summer Camp
Written By: PAW Team | October 27, 2019
When school is out and summer is in, you are still your child’s most amazing advocate!
Every parent wants the best for their child, and they want to see them thrive and have the best summer ever! When you have a child with allergies, medical needs, or special needs, you are constantly advocating for their right to full inclusion in age-appropriate activities, and it can be exhausting. Spending time championing your child during the school year may be a given, but why is it so important to continue your incredible advocacy on behalf of your child during the summer, the time of year that is intended for recharging before the next school year? Disclosing your child’s allergies, medical needs, or special needs to their summer camp is the best thing to do to guarantee that your child has an exciting and memorable camp experience while also ensuring that you have the peace of mind of knowing that they are safe and fully supported by their camp teachers, directors, and counselors.
Disclosure ensures that the adults who have the privilege of working with your child have the information necessary to recognize any symptoms of distress as early on as possible. As we know, everything ranging from diabetic or epileptic seizures, to difficulty breathing due to allergen exposure, and even to sensory overload can be a dramatically different experience for a child when caught and tended to as early as possible. All reputable summer camps have protocols in place and ready to implement in a moment’s notice if a child begins to experience an allergic reaction, medical symptoms, or physical, mental, or emotional discomfort as it pertains to a special or medical need.
When camp teachers and counselors are in the dark about a child’s needs, in the event of a distressful reaction, valuable time is wasted determining the root cause and appropriate remedy. However, when your child’s needs are known by camp staff, quick, informed action will go a long way in preventing the situation from escalating. Taking the small yet essential step in disclosing your child’s needs to their camp will allow everyone to focus on your child’s best summer ever!
Most camps have their own practices and procedures regarding important health disclosures, but if you are looking for a way to initiate communication around this topic with a prospective summer program, here are our recommendations for getting the conversation started:
1) Research & Make Contact:
2) Disclose On Camp Registration Forms:
Most camp registration forms have a section for the parent to indicate that they agree to disclose a child’s special needs or allergies if they have them. The parent will then follow-up with the camp office via phone or email to formally disclose.
3) Follow Up With the Camp Office:
At the time of disclosure, the camp office will ask for a detailed letter outlining the nature of the child’s needs or allergies. In the case of an allergy, the letter will explain the specific allergen, the severity of the allergy, any symptoms of an allergic reaction, any other pertinent details, as well as step-by-step instructions on the actions to be taken by staff in the event of an allergic reaction. The letter does not have to be too long, but it should thoroughly describe how to respond to any degree of distress at camp. In the case of campers with special needs, a similar letter outlining their needs, in addition to a doctor’s letter stating that the summer camp curriculum is appropriate and safe for your child will be required. All required paperwork should be submitted at least 2 weeks before the first day of camp because, in some cases, parents may need to provide a nurse or an aide, which requires additional time to finalize. These letters will be passed on to the on-site camp directors so that they are aware of every camper’s unique needs.
4) First Day of Camp:
Trusted for over 30 years, PAW has 10 camp locations to choose from including; Brentwood, West LA, Manhattan Beach, RPV, Redondo Beach, El Segundo, East Pasadena, Old Town Pasadena, Northridge, and Studio City. For camp information call us at (310) 827-8827 or check out our website at www.PerformingArtsWorkshops.com.
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