Tips for Overnight Activities

Tips for Overnight Activities

For families of children with serious medical conditions, any overnight activity, from sleepovers to field trips to sleepaway camps can leave parents and children wondering about how to manage these specific medical needs. While there are no hard and fast rules because every child and condition is different, there are suggestions and considerations that help to make overnight experiences run more smoothly for families.

  • For organized overnight activities, such as overnight school field trips or summer camps, parents should disclose any medical and emotional/behavioral conditions on the health forms prior to the trip. It is important that camp administrators and school staff are aware of any specific health conditions or medical needs that your child may have. The health forms ensure that children are provided with the best care while they are away from their parents. Forms may ask about prescribed medications, allergies, vaccinations, preferred medications for over-the-counter use, physical limitations, etc. The point is to gather a comprehensive health and wellness background of each child so that any adult responsible for your child’s wellbeing is aware of and prepared to deal with any medical issues that may arise. As with any health consideration, it is better to be proactive as opposed to reactivewithout this imperative information, staff may not be able to act proactively, which could put children at risk.
  • Practice “self-checks” with your child before an overnight activity and talk to them about self-advocacy. If they notice certain symptoms of their condition flaring up or feel that something is not right, assure them that they can and should speak up. For instance, for severe asthma sufferers, many different factors can contribute to an attack. Remind your child that using an inhaler, taking a break from physical activities, or stepping inside to relax in the air conditioning is nothing to be ashamed ofit’s the smart thing to do. Talk to your child about “checking in” with himself and assessing how he is feeling throughout the overnight activity and provide him with suggestions on how to approach an adult for help.
  • As much as possible, plan ahead for medications that your child will need for the overnight stay. Make sure that prescriptions are up to date, filled, and clearly labeled with your child’s name, the specific medication, and dosage. Any adults chaperoning or managing the children overnight should know exactly how much to administer to your child and when. If meds or dosages have changed recently, let the camp staff, chaperones, or other parents know about the recent modification. Furthermore, consider reviewing the dosage and optimum time for taking the medication with your child. Remind her that, as she gets older, her health will be one of her biggest responsibilities, so why not practice now?
  • Ask questions about how medical instances and conditions are handled. Seek clarity on how the staff has been trained. You’ll want to check in on the following details of the overnight trip or camp:
  • Where is the health room or nurse’s station on the campus? How accessible is it from the childrens’ sleeping quarters?
  • Will there be bed checks or a night nurse available around the clock?
  • Will children have shade breaks, water breaks, etc., to avoid dehydration and heat exhaustion?
  • Are medical staff trained in CPR, EpiPen administration, etc.?
  • In an emergency, which hospital would a child be taken to?
  • Who is the point of contact if parents need to get in touch with their child immediately?
  • What kind of water safety training does staff receive? Are there certified lifeguards on duty during all water activities?
  • Are there designated tables/eating areas for children who have food allergies? Is the kitchen staff versed on cross-contamination and safe handling protocols for severe food allergies?
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