The Boca Pediatrician-Approved Summer Camp Checklist

The author's daughter, Avery, enjoys a day on the beach.

It’s starting to feel more and more like Boca Raton is teetering on the face of the sun, which can only mean one thing: summer is coming.

In my world, that equals no school or extracurricular activities. It’s the time of year that this mama can finally slow down. But for many families, it also means summer camp!

Whether your family trends toward day or sleepaway camps, there are things we parents need to prepare for so our kids can have that quintessential camp experience—and we can relax. To make sure I covered all my bases, I reached out to the doctors at Boca VIPediatrics to find out their summer camp must-haves. After all, as a former camp physician at Camp KenMont, pediatrician Dr. Paul Gilbert knows all too well the summertime rashes, bumps, bruises and bugs that come along with being a camper and a kid.

1. Sunscreen

This is really important! Before summer camp begins, parents should ask about their camp’s sunscreen policy. Your camp should ensure that counselors are available to help children apply sunscreen properly with enough time to allow it to work prior to any outdoor activities.

Broad spectrum (UVA & UVB) sunscreen with at least SPF 30 should be used 20 to 30 minutes prior to sun exposure and re-applied every two hours or after swimming, sweating or toweling off. (This Boca mom likes CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen Face Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 30.) If your child is in day camp, do yourself a favor and apply their sunscreen for them before they leave in the morning. Apply it liberally over all areas that will be exposed to the sun, making sure not to forget about the backs of arms, legs and ears. 

And remember, sunscreen should be applied regardless of weather as ultraviolet (UV) rays can still penetrate to the ground even with cloud cover.

Boca VIPediatrics PRO TIP: Sunscreen must be applied to DRY SKIN. Always apply sunscreen FIRST, insect repellent SECOND! 

2. Bug spray

Boca VIPediatrics recommends using insect repellents that contain DEET, when needed, to prevent insect-related diseases. Summer bugs are no fun at all: Ticks can transmit Lyme disease and mosquitoes can transmit West Nile, Zika virus, Chikungunya virus and others. The current AAP and CDC recommendation for children older than 2 months is to use 10 to 30 percent DEET (it should not be used on children younger than 2 months).

Try to make sure your children avoid using scented soaps, perfumes or hair sprays in the summer as well, as they can attract bugs.

3. Water safety, especially for the littlest campers

Did you know drowning is the single leading cause of injury-related deaths in children between the ages of 1 and 4? Even though the best swimming lessons cannot “drown-proof” a child, the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends parents take steps to make a child’s water environment safer, especially in the summer.

Some pointers: Install that four-sided pool fence at home. Make sure you never leave children alone or in the care of another child while in or near bathtubs, pools, spas or other open water. Empty water from buckets and other containers immediately after use. This may all seem like common sense, but there have been so many accidents due to parents not following through with these recommendations.

And while swimming at home or camp, a supervising adult with water safety skills should always be within an arm’s length, providing constant “touch supervision” for any infants or toddlers in or around the water. Even with older children and better swimmers, the supervising adult or camp counselor should always focus on the child and not be engaged with other distracting activities.

4. Pediatrician in your pocket

Boca VIPediatrics + Digital Otoscope

Kids going to sleepaway camp? Planning some summer travel? Clients of Boca VIPediatrics in central Boca pack their pediatrician wherever they go with 24/7 capabilities to email or text their doctor directly, and receive a response in seconds. These pediatricians have managed everything from poison ivy to broken limbs and yucky stomach bugs for their patients near and far through virtual visits and telemedicine devices both during the summer and year-round.

You’ll definitely relax with this on your summer checklist.