Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to go back to sleep away camp (as the camp doctor for my daughter’s camp). When we enrolled my daughter for sleep away camp, I thought being the camp doctor at her camp would be a relaxing blissful week away in the peaceful Maine woods. Maybe I would get the occasional call to check a sprained ankle or broken wrist. Otherwise, I had visions of hours of tennis, sunbathing, boating and watching my daughter during her first time away at camp.
Well, I was wrong (sort of). I did get to check out many sprained ankles, broken bones, and rashes. Also, I played some tennis (well, twice) and did get to boat on the lake. Nothing, however, prepared me for what it would be like as camp doctor to an all girls camp with 300 girls during the first week of camp.
So, here is my advice to parents; the biggest complaint I had during my week there was belly pain. I think that the packing list should have a dietary list included with the clothing list. On the dietary list should be prune juice, all bran, bran flakes, and all sorts of high fiber foods. I have never seen more constipation in the 10 years I have practiced pediatric emergency medicine.
Also, bug repellant is a big must. Send your kids to camp with extra supplies of bug repellant. Lots and lots of insect bites. The big challenge is discerning the infected ones from the ones that are just localized allergic reactions. I also really encourage parents to talk about sun protection with their children. So many sunburns!
Finally, anti-homesickness pills (which might just be lifesavers). Many girls just needed some TLC those first few nights and were fine by the time I left for NYC.
Would I do it again? Absolutely! Only this time armed with fiber bars, benadryl, ace wraps and lots of lifesavers.
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