A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

Get ready for summer sports camp

Kids playing basketball - What to know before signing your kid up for a summer sports camp

Prepare for sports camp by asking the camp director about safety and sending your kids with the right equipment.

Every summer, sports camp directors are trusted to provide safe environments for kids to learn new athletic skills and have fun.

Parents, you can do your part by preparing children for camp and communicating with them and their coaches throughout the summer, said Brent Amble, a Marshfield Clinic athletic trainer.

Ask questions about safety

Before you register your child for sports camp, make sure staff is prepared to make it a positive, safe experience.

Ask about instructors’ qualifications and the ratio of camp participants to instructors. The camp should have an athletic trainer or health care professional on site and an emergency action plan in place.

Find out what safety equipment will be used and whether it’s provided or your child must bring his own.

If camp takes place outside, ask where practice will be during storms or high heat and humidity. Water breaks should be offered every hour even if kids practice indoors or weather isn’t hot and humid.

Pack the essentials

Besides packing the right equipment and safety gear for your child’s sport, stock his gym bag with these essentials for a safe, healthy day at camp:

  • Bottle of water
  • Healthful snack
  • Sunscreen. Your child should reapply sunscreen every two hours while outdoors at camp.
  • A change of clothes. Changing out of sweat-soaked clothes into something dry will let your child continue sweating and cool down.
  • Medication your child may need, like an inhaler or EpiPen

Check for signs of illness, injury

“The best way to figure out if your child is injured or not feeling well is to ask him,” Amble said.

Your child shouldn’t feel sick after a day of playing sports. Headache, nausea and cramping may be signs of heat exhaustion. Get your child to a cool place and have him drink plenty of water.

Muscle soreness is normal after a day of physical activity, but pain and swelling isn’t. Your child’s doctor should check injuries that limit range of motion or prevent him from putting weight on the injured area, which could be broken bones.

Balance camp and free time

Summer vacation doesn’t have to be all about keeping kids busy and preparing for the next sports season.

“Encourage kids to try a variety of sports to avoid burnout,” Amble said. “Ask them what they want to do.”

Sports camps offer a great chance to build athletic skills and meet other kids, but give your children time to rest and play in an unstructured setting.

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