STORIES NEEDED: Has Your Kid’s Camp Become Less Free-Range? Or Even Nutty?

Hi Folks! I’m writing a column inspired by the Maryland law that was about to be enacted that would have prohibited counselors from applying sunblock to kids. The state was, of course, afraid of perverts. But when parents heard about the measure, THEY were afraid of sunburn. So the law did not go into effect (but parents still have to sign a waiver saying they agree to counselor-kid sunscreen application).

Anyway, that got me to thinking about other ways camps have changed and even contorted, in response to parental fears, lawsuit fears, and just fears in general. If you have any examples, I’d love to hear ‘em. Especially after just finding the FIVE PAGE health form I have to fill out for my son to go to Boy Scout camp for a WEEK. I know, I know — some kids have allergies to surprising things, but really: I have to check off whether the camp is allowed to give him calamine lotion for an itch or Bactine for a scratch? Yes indeed I do!

And so: I”d like to hear from parents, camp counselors, camp owners and anyone else with any camp connection. As you know, I love safety, but I also love sanity and a soupcon of summer freedom. Hope yours is a happy one! — L

Kids waiting to go to camp in the days before parents had to authorize the use of sunscreen. In fact, the days before sunscreen, period.

146 Responses

  1. I wanted to respond to your post about camp — my son also just spent a week at boy scout camp. As an attorney, I’m not that offended by the stack of health forms, as I know that they are an attempt to be informed so as to avoid liability and to provide proper assistance if your kid has a health issue.

    However, I wanted to relate something positive about boy scout camp. I’m slowly learning to let go of some of the cultural fears that prevent me from letting my kids experience the world more freely. My 11-year-old son attended a boy scout camp last week and we went to visit him in the middle of the week for family week. I must say I was impressed with the way this camp lets kids be kids. The camp is 600 acres of forest, including two lakes, a climbing wall, a shooting range, and a swimming pool. For the entire week, my son was trusted to make and maintain his own camp site, navigate the large campgrounds, and take his own initiative to participate in a variety of activities. He was taught gun safety and then allowed to shoot a rifle. He did archery. He climbed a two-story climbing wall, he wandered the woods, he kayaked. He learned how to save himself if he was dumped in the water fully clothed. There are some ground rules — the kids have to be with another camper when they’re walking around, for example, but I was so impressed with the independence that these kids were allowed to demonstrate. They took such pride in that and, because me son has ADHD and some learning disabilities, I took a lot of pride in it too.

  2. Hmmm. I wouldn’t call a rule that one has to be with another camper one that promotes independence. It’s yet another example of our modern aversion to being alone with one’s thoughts, to me one of the prime advantages of being out in nature.

  3. Wow, Liz! Love how on the nay-sayer’s list of “anything can happen!”, molestation comes first. I’m so glad they’re still having their ..er, “program”, despite the stink and kill-joys.

    Linda-If I remember from my brother’s scout camp days, that’s a pretty long standing rule. It would have driven me nuts, though, because I am the type who daydreams when I walk, and having another person around ruins it. I like that they scout camp seems to let the boys be self directed in their activities, though. Micromanagement of activities has been a pet peeve of mine since I was about seven.

  4. i;m surprised you are writing about this. Didn’t you just speak at an ACA camp conference, now you are going after camps.. shame that you are attacking something you spoke so highly about a couple months of ago.
    Tracy

  5. Too bad you cant check off that you don’t care what sexual orientation their counselor has. But the Boy Scouts have already decided for you and is one of the most recognizable organizations in American today that openly discriminates.

  6. I live in Maryland and I noticed the space on the camp form about sunscreen. I thought it was a ridiculous question, but I had no idea it was because it was a law. Crazy.

    I think it’s great that boy scouts are nurturing independence. However, they also perpetuate unfounded fear by not allowing LGBT people become den leaders. Their rule promotes fear and intolerance. So unfortunate.

  7. Ahh but a rule that has the campers always have a buddy is still letting the KIDS monitor themselves and each other and not always be under the rule of an adult. The buddy rule is a common camping/backpacking/wilderness/swimming rule for kids and adults. It is a good one to teach for any adventurers of any age.

    My son also just spent hes 3rd week long stay at Boy scout camp and again came home a changed kid and I already consider myself free range. Though camp did give me a reason to not fret over his every action by allowing myself an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality while he was at camp. last year he got swimming and boating badges, This year is was firearms, fire safety, knife safety and archery. I’m proud that we can both let him do those things he enjoys in a controlled environment.

    The only thing I wish was better, was if he actually did his own laundry when he got home. He KNOWS how, just always seems too distracted to do it. Pre-teen boys get pretty ripe smelling after a week in the woods.

  8. Not a camp story, but I work at a city pool where staff is prohibited from putting sunscreen on patrons, mostly for fear of a lawsuit. Not that I much mind not having to rub the backs of sweaty old men, but after implementing the new law we often have older children come to the pool alone and leave very sunburnt.

  9. [...] Here is the original post: STORIES NEEDED: Has Your Kid’s Camp Be… [...]

  10. Like many commenters, I am a huge fan of the Boy Scouts of America and their goal of helping boys grow up to become men, rather than teaching them that adults will take care of everything.

    Even within this organization though, people can get a little ridiculous. I recently volunteered at a Cub Scout day camp, and 1 child out of over 500 was allergic to red food dye, so the camp discontinued providing gatorade with red dye to all of the children. In the end, they ran out of non-dyed gatorade and had only water. It seems to me that the one child could be told to stay away from the gatorade and his den leaders asked to help…

  11. My daughter’s camp here in California has the same rule about sunscreen, and I also thought it sounded a bit silly. No idea if it is based on a law here. I figure we have to trust their ability to vet councillors, or sunscreen will end up a pretty minor concern. On the plus side, they do say they will give the kids time and encouragement to take care of it, and I don’t mind my daughter having more responsibility for taking care of herself.

  12. My kids day camp in nyc has same sunscreen rule for several years.

    This was the first year I sent my daughter to sleepway camp (age 10). I was told they would “prefer she not bring a swiss army knife, but if she does the counselor will hold it because obviously the kids can’t have them in the bunks” (this was my mom’s and then mine and required on the packing list when I went to camp at her age).

    When I asked if she could keep hydrocortizone or topical benedryl cream in her bunk because she has a mosquito bite allergy, but is more than capable of applying treatment herself, they said, “only of the tube does not say ‘keep out of the reach of children'”…I did point out that bug spray and sunscreen and even some tubes of adult toothpaste say the same thing!

  13. My kids go to day camp, not yet sleep away camp, and last year after someone broke their arm falling off the monkey bars, the camp got rid of all the monkey bars. When I complained they told me their insurance company gave them no choice. I don’t blame the camp, they do what they can within the parameters they have.

    On the “always wonder around in pairs” rule; I had the same rule as a kid, and I had a very free range childhood, hiking around the bush in Africa. That’s just common sense, so there’s someone to go for help if you break a leg, get bitten by a snake, fall in the river etc…

  14. I think our camp has the sunscreen rule also, but I’m not sure why. Parents should be applying sunscreen before kids leave home anyway. As counselors, they shouldn’t have to deal with applying sunscreen to a bunch sweaty squirmy kids whenever it’s time to go to the pool. That could take the better part of an hour.

    Ours is a YMCA camp and it’s almost completely outdoors, old school style. No nice air conditioned buildings, it’s on a lake and the older kids can do ski camp and other more adventurous stuff. This summer, my 8yo is doing Jr. Outdoor Adventure camp and getting to go canoeing (they flipped it over the first day) and do archery, as well as learn to build a fire. They are filthy and tired and happy when I pick them up and I will send them there as many years as I can because it’s such a great experience.

  15. 20 years ago the local boy scout camp health form was 4 pages, small print. So, not much of a difference there. The real changes, even then, were the insurance company continually changing the rules on activities like rappelling.

  16. Having a child with allergies I understand the need for the long forms and caution. I want them to be careful and not hand him a peanut butter granola bar or to put iodine on his cuts. My husband has a fatal shellfish allergy and iodine could kill him since it has the same stuff shellfish has in it. Not sure if my son has a shellfish allergy but we were told to treat him like he does because he might by his allergist. So no iodine on his cuts.

    I think the sunscreen thing is ridiculous though. I don’t mind if the counselors touch my children’s skin to apply sunscreen. There is nothing stupid about worrying about skin cancer and sunburns. Skin cancer kills and sunburns as kids equal melanomas as an adult. This has been confirmed. I have a ginger and sunscreen must be applied hourly or he will burn. He is too little to do it himself yet so when he has zoo camp in two weeks they better be vigilant about reapplying sunscreen I send or I will rampage! I will apply it when I drop him off but it will need to be reapplied at least once during the three hours he will be there. Call me overcautious all you want, I will make sure the counselors know I mean business about making sure to reapply it to him and get all areas even ears. Also I will doublecheck with them to make sure they know about his food allergies and the snacks they are giving him are safe or letting them know they can give him the snack I pack in his bag if they need to.

    I never went to camp as a kid except dance and cheerleading day camps and a Girl Scout day camp. Cheerleading and dance camps were mostly inside in gyms or dance studios. So I don’t remember much or have much experience.

  17. But I do stand by that it is easy to call some parents overcautious when you don’t have kids with special needs like speech delays, super fair skin, food allergies, etc. Until you have to deal with it you really have no idea how much harder it can make things and therefore how much more cautious we have to be. I would give my right arm to have kids with skin that doesn’t burn every hour or kids with no food allergies, etc that I could just send to camp and not say a word and not worry. It would be nice. Its not reality. So I have to be that weird mother that has to talk to everyone and overpack stuff etc instead of just saying “HERES MY KIDS BYE!” and leaving like other mothers get to do. It stinks. I don’t relish having to be that way. But it is what it is.

    But at least I am trying. I am sending them to zoo camp and not just keeping them home. I do send them to preschool. I send them off and just hope that the teachers/counselors know what the heck they are doing. I have kids that can’t swim that will be in the pool during zoo camp too and that makes me very nervous but they have lifeguards there so I just hope it will be okay. I worry, but I still let them experience the world.

  18. My kids’ camp has no weird rules but in the first week when a big packet of papers came home about upcoming events, there was included a single sheet of paper with all these really weird, urban-legendesque safety tips along the lines of “If you hear a crying baby outside, don’t go out, people try to lure you with recordings of babies.” And, “always enter your car by the passenger door if a suspicious van is parked next to the driver side.” And if you’re locked in a trunk, kick out the taillight. If you’re being mugged, throw the wallet. If you’re being shot at, run in a zig-zag pattern. And in big bold letters, “better paranoid than dead!”

    I thought this was a really strange thing to come home from daycamp, and I put it aside with the express intent of showing it to Lenore! Alas, it’s fallen into the black hole of clutter which is my house so I’m trying to reconstruct it from memory. Again, it seemed a really bizarre thing to come home from camp…

    Just as an aside rant, the whole sunscreen application process could really drive you batshit. Yes I know it’s necessary, but I hate it. In the mornings, I do my ten-year-old’s back and make her do the rest while I deal with the squirming seven-year-old. I advise her to not rely on a counselor for re-application, but get a friend, do each other’s backs. Not out of paranoid concern that counselors might be pervs, but to give them a break!!!

  19. I think most of the camps around here also have the sunscreen rule. I wish they didn’t mostly because I forget to put it on him before he goes and he’s certainly never going to think about it!

    I was surprised that the camp my son is at this week has provisions for kids who arrive and leave by bike! I was shocked and pleased (although we are not doing it). How very free range – let the kids arrive on their own, lock up their bike and spend the day at camp!

    My son was also supposed to go to a sleepaway scout camp, but you have to have one den leader or parent for every 5 boys and I couldn’t make it and none of our other kids or parents were going. I think the BSA forms are pretty standard, although I do wish they would get it all online so you could fill it out once and then just update. I’m not unhappy with the 2 kids together rule – at our last council camp out one kid got lost for several hours, and I’d rather they get lost with a buddy. Most of these kids (we are in cub scouts) are younger and don’t have the orienteering skills yet. Plus if there’s an injury it’s always better to have another person there, especially if you aren’t familiar with the terrain – true for grownups, too. It doesn’t mean you can’t go nearby the campsite on your own.

    So sad to hear about that backyard camp in Needham! The insurance agencies really have the world over a barrel.

  20. I get your point about “I have to check off whether the camp is allowed to give him calamine lotion for an or Bactine for a scratch? Yes indeed I do!”

    I don’t see how this would help. In my experience the problem was that the ()#*#$* adults wouldn’t check forms (My parents sent a type written lists of OTC meds I was not allowed to take) and listen to me. Numerous time in my life I had to throw a tea totaling fit and scream at adults to call my parents because the adult at school, camp, or the ER was trying to give me an OTC med that I can not tolerate.

    The conversation would go like this
    Adult – I’m going to give you OTC med
    Me – I can’t take that. You have prescription med for my allergies
    Adult – nonsense you don’t need prescription med for this you will just take OTC med
    Me – Please check my forms I can’t take OTC medication because it causes my Blood pressure to plummet and I faint. That is why I have prescription med here for me to take
    Adult – Now actually OTC Medication makes your blood pressure rise you sound like a drug addict. YOU WILL TAKE OTC Medication
    Me- I have an atypical reaction to OTC medication CALL MY PARENTS NOW their number .

    I know people assume that prescription meds are stronger than OTC. In my case the med were prescription because my pediatrician wrote the formulas himself. They weren’t name brand. (Example our cough meds said Dr. George’s Cough syrup.) He stripped out coloring and flavoring. Often the ingredients I have a problem with in OTC meds are the coloring and flavoring.

    I’ve also had adults insist that my skin condition was poison ivy. Only one was justified. She was a sweet neighbor who had noticed some poison ivy in an area we played. She had sprayed it with round up, and was going to warn our parents. She saw us playing and thought I was having a massive reaction and insisted on walking me home. Mom gave the poor woman a cup of tea and assured her I had no more rash now than when I left the house earlier. The rest just tried to make me apply calamine lotion – which would have stripped my skin off.

  21. Leigh: One application of sunscreen in the morning will not cut it. Sunscreen needs to be applied every 30 minutes if you are in the water and after you dry off if you are in the water. If you are sweating same rules. If just outside, every hour to 2 hours you need reapplication. Maybe if you have dark skin and don’t burn easily one morning application might get you, but not for fair skinned children. Read the back of your sunscreen tube, it confirms what I say. Also check recommendations from http://www.skincancer.org/Sunscreen/

    My son’s preschool teacher refused to apply sunscreen to my boys right before they go outside. She told me I had to do it before I drop him off. I do and since they are only outside 30 minutes it is okay but if they were outside more than that, I would have had to protest this. A 3 year old cannot apply sunscreen to themselves. They won’t get all the areas nor will they have the self discipline to do that. Now when he is 10, sure he can do it himself.

  22. My kid is too young for camp, but at nursery school, they wouldn’t put diaper rash ointment on. If your kid had a rash, you had to smear it in the diaper for them.

    It’s all so stupid. If you’re putting your kids in the hands of these people for hours or days at a time, then you should trust them to take care of your child’s needs.

  23. Maureen: agreed! I worked at a daycare and we were allowed to apply diaper cream but only if the parents sent it and we had to wear gloves. One day this little girl had diaper rash so badly that she was screaming when we changed her but the parent had sent no diaper cream so I didn’t put any on in case I got in trouble. Another worker said “Screw that!” and put some on that another kid brought. Technically she could have been fired for that. We knew it was not an allergy or anything, just the mother forgot to send some yet the little girl was going to have to suffer or someone had to put their job on the line. Its stupid and not common sense.

  24. I have a friend whose daugther, a redhead, got second and third degree sunburns with blisters, because the camp counselors wouldn’t apply suncreen. The mother did it in the morning but she needed more in the afternoon. I don’t care what the rules are…how does anyone let a child get hat sunburnt?

  25. When I worked in daycare, we had to have permission from parents for every little thing…sunscreen, bug spray, any other “medication” (hand cream, anti-itch cream, antibiotic ointment, diaper rash cream, etc.), allergies (food or otherwise), etc. I understand why, especially with allergies so rampant. It was kind of annoying for us to deal with because parents were also expected to provide said things and when something wasn’t there, we got reprimanded by the parents…and then our boss. I’m sorry you don’t check your child’s take-home folder. We stuck a note in their a week and a half ago saying that your child was running low on sunscreen and could you please bring more. We stuck another one in there two days later. And the following Monday. And yesterday. We even verbally reminded you yesterday morning when you dropped your child off and again when you picked them up. So yes, it’s suddenly our fault that we didn’t remind you. Sheesh!

    Along those lines, we had one child that was allergic to everything (seemingly) and it was to the point that we couldn’t apply her sunscreen (she was 3) without wearing protective gloves, even after washing our hands, because of “something” on us that could make her break out in hives. Her parents finally had to get a prescription form of a spray sunscreen for her because she couldn’t apply it herself everywhere she needed to and we were basically not allowed to touch her. What a pain that was. We felt so bad, too, because it’s not like it was the child’s fault or the parents’ fault.

    Oh, and my favorite was that I wasn’t allowed to apply diaper cream/ointment to a child because we didn’t have an updated form from the parents saying we could…even though the diaper rash cream was right in the child’s diaper bag and had obviously been used (the kid had the diaper rash cream on their bum when I went to change them). The kid has diaper rash. You really want to make him suffer because the parents are too lazy to fill out their paperwork. I was so mad about that one…I almost quit that job that day.

  26. The forms for our 4H sleep away camp were pretty extensive too, but the part that got me was their doctor had to actually sign it! As in, review what I’d checked off, confirm with their records with his own check list, and sign to validate they (I’m sure if that’s the kids or the camp) can assume the risk of … camp! Like I don’t know my kids well enough to say what their medical situation is… some guy who sees them once a year has to confirm it. Yeesh.

    Our day camps asked for a waiver that says they can apply the sunscreen, I’m fine with that as it seems more medically based than pervanoia based.

  27. That is, I’m NOT sure if that’s the kids or camp… stupid typos!

  28. @Selby, I hate the “crying baby recording myth”. For weeks I was convinced the neighbors in the bottom apartment of our duplex had a child I had never seen who was extremely unhappy, until the night that I opened the back door and turned on the light and realized it was cats. There have been legitimate studies done proving that cats yowling in the night sound like crying babies, but there is such a perverse and pervasive mentality in our culture that the sound of a crying baby in the night must be a lure to get unsuspecting residents to step outside unprotected so they can be kidnapped and made into sex slaves…or something like that.

    It goes right along with these camp rules. How sad is it that these policymakers’ first thoughts were that anyone wanting to use their hands to put sunscreen on a child must be a pedophile. And if my son went to a daycare where they needed a form to apply diaper rash ointment when he obviously needed it, I would never take my son back there again. There’s good touch and bad touch. Putting diaper cream on an infant’s bum is not a bad touch, nor is putting sunscreen on a kid’s leg, back or ears. All I can say is that these people coming up with these laws need to get their minds out of the gutter.

  29. Leslie: That is awful and is exactly what would happen to my redhead if it was an all day camp in the sun and he got no reapplication of sunscreen. I have never let my child get burned badly. He might get a little red on his nose but never badly because I try to be super vigilant about it. I really don’t understand when I hear parents say they let their kid get sunburned really bad. I know it happens, but OMG! Did they not put any sunscreen on at all?!

    My mom was always super vigilant about putting sunscreen on me as a kid. I am glad she did. I am fair skinned too. I never had a sunburn as a kid. Ever. Now when I was a teenager and supposed to do it myself I was not as vigilant. I got a really bad one on my nose once and my skin came off so that it looked like a chunk of my nose was gone. Everyone made leprosy jokes about me. I also let myself get burned really bad during the first air show I ever attended. I did not know what to expect and did not know I would be sitting outside in the sun all day long. My legs got burnt and my arms. Whoops! Other than that, never been burned. They see mommy put on sunscreen too and they know that way how important it is.

    I am glad my mom never let me go to tanning beds or get burned. I look way younger than I am because I have not wrinkled and my skin still looks fresh. I got mistaken for a high school and even middle school student when I subbed after I graduated college! The other girls I graduated with who made fun of me for being pale and they went to tanning beds. They did not come out so well.

  30. I have never heard the crying baby urban legend before. I guess if someone did that it might work, but never heard of that. I would go out anyway just because if it was a real baby I would want to help out but I would be smart about it too.

  31. I’m happy to say that my daughter’s girl scout camp was very free-range this summer. She spent several days trekking through a national forest with a team of llamas. When an unexpected hail-storm destroyed several of the tents, the girls, their counselors and (shock!) the male llama guide all crowded into one tent together for the night. It was the only reasonable thing to do under the circumstances – but paranoia sometimes prevents people from being reasonable. The girls had a very dramatic adventure and came home with a very exciting tale to tell.

  32. Probably about 1995: my older daughter went to sleep-away Girl Scout camp. Sent the usual post cards; got only one in return. Went to pick her up, got lost, was late. Walking down the road from the parking lot, I saw her coming to meet me. Her hair was full of twigs; she hadn’t re-braided her braids for two weeks. She burst into tears. Oh dear, I thought, she was homesick. Nope; she was crying because she had had such a good time, being at a camp that was so free-range. (Except for water safety, of course!!!).

  33. My daughter (7) goes to day camp. We put sunscreen on her in the AM before she goes, and the counselers re-apply in the PM. They swim twice/day and it is a long day, so once in the AM would not be sufficient. I wouldn’t send her to a camp that would not re-apply the sunscreen.
    She also gets picked up by a bus at the sidewalk in front of our house. We had been waiting outside with her until the bus came each day. Yesterday she told me to “hide” or go inside before the bus came because she wanted to be like a teenager and do it on her own. While I’m not ready for the teenager part, she is proudly waiting on her own outside now. One small step.

  34. BTW, I think the timestamp on the postings here are 12 hours ahead of reality. My last post was apparently made tomorrow. :)

  35. I’m a girl guide leader in Ontario and we have the sunscreen rules. They take it one step further to the point where if a child doesn’t bring sunscreen to a sleep away camping trip (tents, not cabins) We can’t use any of ours since they classify it as a drug. We have to cover them from head to toe in clothes and try to reach their parents to bring some.
    We did apply THEIR sunscreen to them since the girls are 5-8 and it was a 3 day camp that was 100% outdoors. Most of them nowadays have the no rub sunscreen so it wasn’t a big deal.

  36. My daughter went to Girl Scout day camp last year. She had a wonderful time, but I did have one eyebrow-raising moment. I had made some comment about her being tired because “she was probably running all day,” and she told me, in a totally disgusted voice, “They won’t let us run unless it’s for a game.”

  37. Wow – these forms sound totally mental! I have a Troop of Scouts in the UK (10 – 14yrs old) whom I regularly take on weekend camps and once a year for a week or so. The basic parental consent form is 1 page long.
    Instead of asking parents to check off everything we ARE allowed to give the kids the form instead asks parents to list allergies and things we’re NOT to give the kids. Obviously some kids have a number of allergies and the form extends to another sheet but for most kids there’s nothing on that form so when they cut themselves we can go ahead and put some Savlon on it. When it’s sunny we can go ahead and give them sunscreen. We’re all first aid trained…
    It seems to me its so much easier when a kid comes to you with an ouchy to quickly glance at a single sheet: nothing on it, proceed with common sense, an allergy to plasters/savlon/iodine whatever, proceed with the recommended (and, if necessary, provided) alternative.

    I cant wrap my head around the notion of having to letting a child frazzle because parents forgot to pack suncream!

  38. I’m not sure what the problem is with having parents sign permission to put sunscreen on kids. This worry isn’t usually molestation; it’s usually making sure that the camp isn’t putting something on a child that s/he is sensitive to. My kid’s day camp makes you sign the form and bring in the sunscreen yourself.

    As someone who spent a lot of time as a kid itchy due to skin allergies, mostly to plants, I’m okay with a camp wanting to make sure that they are not giving a child something that will give him a rash. It’s certainly a better alternative than refusing to allow the children to go outside or making them wear head-to-toe clothes because some kids might be allergic to some sunscreens.

  39. Wow, so many comments! I wanted to say how great Boy Scout camp is (and you really only need to fill out parts A, B and C of the form, and really your doctor has to fill out part B) but Mobymeg was right on it. Always good to have a buddy, but otherwise, what a wonderful experience. My middle son, almost 15, is at camp Yawgoog in RI right now, surely having the time of his life as he does every year. Just like his older brother before him. Independence rules. I know he’ll come home filthy, hopefully with a few merit badges, and definitly with an enhanced love of nature and a greater sense of what he can accomplish.

  40. Our Cub Scout day camp insisted that an adult accompany pairs of campers to the restroom, that during down time the campers had to be in direct view of their walking den leaders and preferably sitting on tarps doing quiet activities, etc. It was a very long 3 days and definitely NOT free range.

  41. This is not quite a camp, but it is a summer activity. I am a working mom and my three kids all go to summer school run by our school district. It is held at a two public schools in our district It is a fun summer school (for example, my daughter is taking tennis and cooking), not academic.

    The summer school lasts for half a day and, in the past, an after-care program at the school was offered. My kids go to this same after-care program after school during the school year. This year, the after-care program was canceled about a month before summer school started because Texas has passed new licensing restrictions on child care providers. The school district decided it was too cumbersome to meet these licensing requirements for summer school.

    Quite frankly, I don’t even know what the requirements are. I don’t know if facility requirements became more stringent, if documentation requirements became more burdensome, or if our school district now falls under restrictions that used to be waived.

    The ironic part of all of this is that I send my kids to school for 7 hours a day during the school year, but now I can’t send my kids to after-care run by the same people.

  42. We didn’t need to be sent to camps as kids, living out in the woods in house with a 2 acre garden (without fences around it of course).

    The few times (because of cost) we went on multi-day trips with school there were no forms, no legal liability disclaimers, no lawyers, noone to apply sunblock.
    Everyone was supposed to do that themselves, to bring their own stuff and take care of it.

  43. A buddy system is not anti-freerange. It is teaching the kids commonsense when out in the bush.

    As an adult and a avid camper/hiker (we call it bushwalking in Australia) I would never go hiking alone. Two is better and three is prefered. The reasoning is that if an injury occurs one person can stay with the victim while the third goes for help.

    This is outdoor safety where injuries are common and death from an otherwise benign injury is a possibility due to location particularly if the person is alone. A disorientated person can wander off a trail and never be found again.

  44. I thought you might like a story about what happens to those forms. As an australian high school teacher I got to go on camp with a bunch of 15yo kids. (we don’t have summer camps but instead a year level will have a week of camp instead of normal school).

    Myself, fifteen students and an experienced hiker employed at the camp went on a two night hike. The students worked in teams of four, sharing a tent and food. Prior to leaving we all sat down at a little camp table and went through the permission forms. When an issue was found, eg a girl with an allergy, the hike leader,myself and the group of four that she was in would discuss the issue.

    We checked that the girl was aware of what to do and that her group had a plan in place. Eg. She was allergic to an ingredient in a meal they were to make so it we listened to them explain how they were going to cool and cleanup so that she got food to eat and avoided contact with the food item. We heard the group explain to us the procedure in case she did have a reaction. Satisfied that they/we were all prepared we moved onto the next issue.

  45. My son attends a daycare and during the summer months it is converted to a camp. It is in suburban long island and has been at the same location for decades. It is family owned and operated and a great place. In fact my son’s grandfather went there as a child.

    I am fine with the requests for medical information and the like but what struck me as overkill are some of the camp/daycare’s rules.

    Food is an excellent example — we sent my son with snacks like blueberries and grapes (cut in half). On each occasion we were told that neither fruit was allowed and the reason was that it was school policy and as much as the teachers thought it was ridiculous they were bound to follow the policy.

    Shoes would be the next example — as the summer months approached we sent him to school with sandals that fit snug but were open toed. This was not allowed as the State of New York requires close toed shoes — period.

    The camp/daycare is a great place, they have a pool that my son, 2, gets to swim in with the counselors and they have ball fields, sand galore and all kinds of equipment for him to climb, explore and enjoy. They do a great job.

    My wife and I are both attorneys and we decided to question the owner about the fruit and shoe rules. She initially took it as confrontational but quickly realized we were just curious about the reason and she proceeded to explain that the State of New York promulgates certain suggestions that are given to daycare/camps. She would love to ignore many of them but she would not take the liability risk as ignoring the suggestions would be considered evidence of negligence.

    Ultimately, this is where the problem lies, the government and the unelected state nannies who have a worst first mentality and think they are doing good by “protecting the children”. Many people are content to let the government tell them what to do and it is a slippery slope we as a society have slid half way down.

    The only way to stop it is to constantly speak up against the idea that the Government should dictate on so many issues as to what is right and wrong when it comes to the way you raise your children or what is a proper standard of safety. Most laws, rules and regulations need to be tossed and only the most simple need to be kept.

  46. Speaking as a counselor who has worked five summers at a BSA camp and currently works in the paperwork end of things, I’m in a tight place. But I will say, and most of the BSA save for those in high places, will agree with you. We have had all sorts of crazy rules during the summers and now in the height of summer we have crazy angry parents.

    Strangely enough, we also have parents who are angry it isn’t strict enough, though. Which confuses me. Depending on the situation, health forms and tour permits are required/not required. I have dealth with parents freaking out because an intense physical form was not required for their child to attend a day camp.

    However in the camp scenario, mine at least was free range. I ran the waterfront, so I did have to lay down the law a few times over practical things (for example: it’s a lake. It gets dark. My lifeguards and I can’t see kids in dark water and this affects their safety. No, we are not going to spend a bunch of money and ruin the environment and atmosphere by installing stadium lights. No, you may not break into my water front while I”m not there. It’s not just about you being safe, it’s about honesty and following instructions. Deal with it.
    I think those are practical rules.
    But cant’ we stick with practical rules? Shouldn’t a child be aware of enough of his allergies to inform the camp nurse of what he can and can’t be treated with should the need arise? Or is telling Junior too scary for him?
    I still think back at my camp days, though, and imagine just how otherwise free range we were. The lake was not particularly cold, and I have to admit my staff and I would laugh at the boys whose parents wouldn’t allow them to go swimming as it was too cold, even more at the boys who refused to go swimming because it was too cold. I think the week at camp was good for them. They got dirty, they shot guns, they swam in a leech-ridden lake.

    No, I’m not proud of all the stupid forms the BSA makes us watch for, but from what I understand it’s due to fear of the helicopter parents. Nothing made me happier than a few months ago when tour plans were done away with and so much responsibility was dumped on the troops.

  47. Michael: You are right that many times it is the state’s rules and regulations and not the individual daycares/camps/schools rules. I worked at a very nice daycare and in order to get the highest rating which meant we could charge more and get more clients, we had to follow all kinds of dumb rules the state came up with. Some we agreed with. Some we thought were totally awful and actually probably hurt the kids more than helped them. Yet, we had no choice in following them or we would be marked down when we had our evaluation from the State. My question is who comes up with the state’s rules?! Not someone very smart. Rules like no time outs allowed. Rules like you have to take the kids outside everyday even if it is really cold and the snot coming out of the little 1 year old’s noses is freezing to their faces and they look miserable and are just standing there and not playing? There is no common sense to it. Oh yeah that everytime we wipe a nose we have to wash our hands first, put on gloves, wipe the nose, throw the gloves and tissue away and then wash hands again. Great, except we had 10 1 year olds in one class and they all had snotty noses. Guess what we did all day long? Sure germ prevention is important but how good is it that we can’t actually play with the kids because we spend all day wiping noses and nothing else since everytime we wipe a nose it takes 5 minutes?!

  48. I just read the comments and I agree that there is nothing wrong the buddy system. Heck, it’s good.

    Rather than blame it for our aversion to being alone with one’s thoughts, realize that the buddy system is not about two people doing the exact same thing.

    You can still be “alone with your thoughts.”

  49. Emily: so if a kid gets hurt and is unconcious and also bleeding and allergic to iodine he is someone supposed to tell you he is allergic to iodine while also being unconcious?! May be a small chance of something like that happening but it also would not hurt for the counselors to know his allergies too. Again, it is easy if you have no problems like allergies or delays to deal with to say its helicopter parents and overprotective. Its another if you are the one with special needs and a simple mistake can kill you.

  50. I agree the buddy system is a good and proper idea when one is off exploring. But the rule, as reported, was “the kids have to be with another camper when they’re walking around.” Exploring, fine. But walking to the latrine? From the cabin to the mess hall? From one part of camp to another? I find that totally unreasonable. I hope I just misunderstood the context.

  51. Rather than forcing everyone to sit through a 5-page document, wouldn’t it be easier to ask parents for potential allergies at sign up? That would be easier for everyone involved…

    By the way, isn’t the whole sunblock thing a solution in search of a problem. If counselors are properly screened beforehand, no one needs to worry about perverts…

  52. Okay, I’ll rephrase: Fill out the medical forms. But don’t do obscenely crazy ones.

    I’ve yet to see an unconscious kid at camp where his Scoutmaster was not personally aware of the boy’s allergies.

  53. I work at a sleepaway camp as a counselor.

    We’re both super free-range and super not. It depends.

    Free-range: No phone calls to or from parents are permitted. No technology of any kind is allowed. 10 campers to 2 counselors. Hiking, swimming, kayaking, capture the flag, you name it.

    Not free-range: Mandatory life-jackets if you’re going to be in the water. We have kids up to sixteen years old. Don’t care how well you swim. Yes, even though we have certified lifeguards on duty at all times.

    The unfortunate thing is that we have to do that or we can’t get insurance. We can’t tell horror stories either because one child a couple years ago ended up needing to go for shock psychotherapy after getting scared crapless from a ghost story.

    I dunno. I think it’s still pretty good. Our forms are long… it’s ten pages of paperwork, but we are a free camp for financially challenged families… there are a lot of disabilities and traumas and things we ask about. Some stuff we have to ask because there are so many disclosures of abuse that need to be reported… if we ask it in the registration it makes it a lot easier to go to child services.That’s really sad.

    Also, campers are never allowed to be one on one with a counselor unless they are within eyesight of other people. This is in place to save the counselor from untrue accusations by the camper as much (or more) than it is to prevent abuse. Also, we have the kids go to and from the washroom and stuff in groups as much as possible because they kept having sex with each other when they got there. We’re less worried about someone “getting them” and more worried about what they’re gonna do! haha

    Sorry for long post.

    tl;dr: camps can seem awful restrictive, but many aren’t really, and if they are, it’s justified.

  54. To add a note from the 1950’s jukebox—“You’re gonna need an ocean/of Calamine Lotion/You’ll be scratchin’ like a hound/the minute you start to mess around—-Poison I-v-eee….”

  55. Why don’t the kids just apply their own sun screen?

  56. I think Mave’s comment about the way it is done in the UK makes the most sense: unless there is a form stating the opposite, it will be assumed that camp leaders can deal with issues in the most commonsense way.

    However, I understand the need for CYA paperwork in today’s litigious society. Still, it’s sad that it is needed. One would think if parents are happy to allow their children to attend camp, they would be assuming the camp leaders are responsible enough adults to care for their children during the camp hours!

  57. Mareen, if they can’t touch the child’s bum to apply cream to diaper rash for a baby at the daycare, how the heck do they clean off the poop??? And yes, I know, probably a state rule. Stupid. Maybe you addressed this in a post further down, but I just had to ask!

  58. Hmm, and this all gets into the subject of “what if the parent thinks that sunscreen is worse than sunburn?” I have some friends like that. As a kid, if we were swimming all day, we wore t-shirts. I now have long sleeved swim shirts for my kids because ALL sunscreen comes off on the towel and I have some skinny ones that use the towel a lot.

  59. I’d like to see some stats sometime on how many kids make false accusations of abuse, sexual or otherwise, the minute that the kid and the adult are out of the watchful eyes of everyone else (at camp, in the church nursery, wherever…) Is it really that many that we need all these rules keeping a responsible adult and a child from being alone together?

    When I was at camp a million years ago, the rule was if we had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night we had to wake the counselor so that she could walk down with us. (Bathrooms were separate from the cabins, it was night, and she was responsible for us being in the cabin when we were supposed to be.) It would never have occurred to me to report her for sexual abuse, just for … what is it…laughs?? I guess now I’d have to wake up 2 counselors, just for a trip to the bathroom.

  60. I was a camp counselor for over 15 years and comparing our rules to the ones people are mentioning, I’m thinking the camps I worked at were pretty reasonable in their forms and rules. My kids are now camping age and we’ve had very positive experiences. My son was annoyed last year at Scout Camp that he had to wear a life jacket when swimming because (at age 5) he did not pass the swim test. it was his motivation to practice all year so that he doesn’t have to wear a life jacket but stay in the shallow end.

    I know that some camps, schools and day cares have a rule that all children who need to have the sunscreen applied, must use the sunscreen provided by the facility. The reason being that if you apply sunscreen from ten different kids onto each one, you may cross contaminate ingredients that don’t mix well together and cause a reaction. If your child can’t use the facility approved sunscreen, then you provide your own and the child will apply it themselves.

    I have vitiligo so I have no pigment on most of my body and must wear sunscreen year round and reapply every two hours (more often when I sweat or in water). I am religious about applying sunscreen on myself and on my kids. By age four I have my kids trained on how much to apply, and where to apply. I can trust that they will do an excellent job. They tend to overdo it sometimes and I go through bottles of sunscreen quickly. If they can’t reach a spot they ask for help but usually they look in the mirror and can see what they’ve covered.

    I do have a crazy school request. My kids went to the Y for nursery school and because there were a number of children with food allergies (my children included), absolutely no outside food was allowed to be given to the children. This meant that all snacks, so our fees went up to reflect this. I didn’t mind the school providing the snack (made my life easier!) but it was the reason that bothered me. All class parties, no birthday treats (which I hate anyway), no treats at holidays to be given to classmates were included. As a parent with a child with life-threatening allergies, I really hated this rule. My child, even at age two, needs to be an advocate for herself. She needs to learn to tell people she has a food allergy, is this food safe for me. She needs to learn not to share food. She needs to learn to refuse unsafe foods. I know the school was covering their butts, and some children’s parents were a little overzealous. My girlfriend has three kids, all with different life threatening allergies (first-nuts/peanuts, second-dairy/eggs, third-wheat/dairy). She can’t eliminate all of the allergens in her home so she has designated dishes and seating areas. Food is labeled for each child so the child with the dairy allergy, drinks her almond milk next to her sister with the nut allergy. Her kids know not to share and she has never had an accidental allergic reaction with any of her kids since their diagnosis. I eat peanut butter beside my allergic daughter and she will tell me that it smells disgusting and leaves. She will smell it on the breathe of her friends and tell them to brush their teeth. She knows what it smells like because I have exposed her to it so she will know to speak up and not accidentally ingest it. When we do eat the foods she is allergic to, we brush our teeth, wash up, dishes are rinsed and sterilized in the dishwasher. Her allergy is not airborne but according to Anaphylaxis Canada, less than 4% of nut allergies are airborne but not necessarily anaphylactic. I think many of the parents I have met with children with food allergies have gone helicopter and not allowed their children to become advocates and may put themselves into dangerous situations when they are teens.

  61. Jenn:

    This post stems mostly from my ignorance on the subject but I really don’t recall food allergies amongst my peers when I was in underoos and the like. However, with my two year old son I am exposed to multiple no outside food rules or no peanut rules. I’m happy to comply until he reaches a certain age then I think I’ll get annoyed, like if i can’t send him to elementary school with a pb&j.

    My petty annoyance notwithstanding, is their an increase in the percentage of kids with food allergies from the time when I was a kid (born in ’73) and if so why. If you got a link to a good quick read on the subject I would love to educate myself.

  62. Mikie: I have seen studies that say allergies are on the rise and then studies refuting that. I think there is more awareness of food allergies nowadays, and more advocacy. Plus there is also people who have gone overboard with their allergies (I know a parent who uses wipes on the playground equipment and on toys her child will be playing with). My cousin (born in 67) has a nut allergy but we never were told about it until recently. When we were kids, I never asked why he didn’t eat the PB&J, I just thought he didn’t like it and that’s why he didn’t eat it. He had an anaphylactic reaction at age 4, and never carried an epipen (they weren’t around then) and still doesn’t. He was told by his father (a doctor) to smear some food on his lips, if it tingles, don’t eat it, so he doesn’t. I plan on teaching my daughter that test when she’s a little older.
    Also, my sister’s high school boyfriend (born in 71) has a nut allergy and he was telling us that the biggest changes now is that companies have made the public more allergy aware with their packaging. When he (and my cousin) were kids, they did a lot of cooking from scratch, took some chances, or simply didn’t eat the food served. Many companies put the `may contain nuts’ label on their products for insurance purposes. My cousin, does the smear on the lip test and has never had a reaction to something. He may feel the tingle on the lips, so he doesn’t eat it, but if he doesn’t feel the tingle, he eats it and has never had a reaction. In Canada( and I believe the US), products are labeled as may contain nuts, if there has ever been nuts on the product line or in the factory. In the UK, products will be labeled as nut free, may contain nuts due to nuts on the assembly line, may contain nuts due to nuts in the factory, may contain nuts due to nuts being in the factory in previous years but not now, and does contain nuts. With companies trying to protect themselves, people have become more aware and perhaps it is perceived that allergies are on the rise. Or perhaps it’s an environmental issue. I’m not too sure if the allergies are on the rise or not but I can see where the arguments come from.

    As for when your child goes to school: Most schools are allergy aware rather than allergy free because they can’t truly be allergy free. That would mean having to comply with all allergies and in my group of friends alone that would include: nuts, peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, eggs, strawberries, bananas, peas, kiwi, wheat, seafood, shellfish and soy (we’re a pretty allergic group!). I’m a teacher and if a child comes to school with PB&J, if there are no nut allergies in the class, they eat it in the room with the rest of the class, then clean up (sounds reasonable). Some schools make the child eat it in the office while being supervised and some will call home and ask the parent to bring a new lunch, or provide one of the emergency lunches.
    I do get it that very few children have an airborne allergy, but again that is very few. What do you do about that child who has an anaphylactic dairy allergy? Ban milk, cheese and butter? Or the teacher who is deathly allergic to strawberries? I think that some schools and school boards have gone too far due to parental fears. Yes, your child (like mine) has a life threatening allergy. I have seen my child go blue. I have called 911. But I do not live my life in fear and I never want her to either. We are smart about her allergy and we educate ourselves and those who feed her or offer her food about her needs. You do not need to sterilize with wipes the playground equipment before she plays on it, nor do you need to avoid nuts the day you are going to see her. Practice good hygiene by washing your dishes, food serving and preparation areas and yourself, and we’ll be fine. As I say, being allergic to nuts is no reason to go nuts!

  63. This is a valid concern. But certainly there are measures that can be adopted to avoid unfortunate incidents to happen. Management must be more scrutinizing in getting counselors and volunteer staff members. We parents must see to it that our children are medically cleared to join kids camps or teen boot camps or any activity because the liability is on the camp counselors and staff but the responsibility is still ours.

  64. Thanks Jenn

  65. Not camp but a friend was taking the Jr/Sr high kids from her church on a hike, a flat trail through some woods 15 mintues from town for the afternoon. The “health officer” had to cancel and she was looking for a medically trained person ( EMT, RN, MD, etc. Her words) to come or the hike would be cancelled. All I could do was roll my eyes.

  66. I attended the same overnight summer camp from ages 5-14, then worked there from 15-17. In my opinion, it is the best place on earth. When I became a counselor, my favorite rule was “no purpling” (pink + blue = purple). It was almost a joke, though. We were also given instruction (with demonstration) of how to give an “appropriate” 5-second side-hug to campers who needed a little reassurance or praise.

  67. For the next two weeks, my son is at Turtle Island Preserve. http://www.turtleislandpreserve.com. They specifically state that “safety is one of their concerns,” on the bottom of the page after they tell you to bring a pocket knife, leave the Purell at home, and not to bring anything antibacterial wipes or soap. They post pictures online, and he’s barefoot in the mud, hanging off a horse and buggy, and wrestling over a piece of watermelon in a tangle of other boys. That’s camp!

  68. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m chuckling reading the various posts about sunscreen.

    Dolly, up above, remarked that you should apply sunscreen every 30 minutes if you’re in the water or every 2 hours otherwise. Again, I look at myself–someone who hated wearing sunscreen and spent my summers running around outside and in the water–and wonder how in the world I survived to the ripe old age of 50 without putting on sunscreen every 2 hours.

    Don’t get me wrong, there are those kids who are sensitive to the sun. As parents, you’ll probably figure this out pretty quick when your kid returns for lunch looking like a fresh-cooked lobster. When that happens, you might want to teach your kid about how to apply sunscreen, get them a big hat and/or suggest long-sleeved shirts. But applying sunscreen to each and every kid every 2 hours? Seems a bit impractical.

    Statistics say that there will be 8,620 deaths this year from skin cancer. In comparison, 58,200 children will be abducted by non-family members. You don’t worry about your kid getting abducted, but they could die from melanoma!

    Sunscreen is a good thing. But come on! Your kid isn’t going to die if they get a sunburn.

  69. Insanity… Those five pages could be reduced to a single slip with “Please note any known allergies and/or health problems your child has below”. That way the kid that is allergic to bactine or sunscreen or peanuts or whatnot can be identified at the start – heck, the camp counselers could even give the kid a ‘special coloured badge’ to wear in case this is a BIG camp so the kid is immediately identifiably as a ‘don’t apply anything without checking his/her status’.

    It’s far easier to identify the ‘one in a million’ risk than to slog through five pages of a kid’s medical history every time s/he needs a rub of suncream.

    Yes, one in a million. It turns out that half of the kids in the US that scored a ‘positive’ on an allergy test aren’t allergic at all? See this link:

    http://thefastertimes.com/clinicalupdate/2010/05/14/maybe-were-not-allergic-to-everything-after-all/

    I quote:

    “A study published in this week’s Journal of the America Medical Assocation highlights the complexity of diagnosing and treating allergies. The paper is a review of more than seventy other research studies, which the authors summarize as “critically limited by the lack of uniformity for the diagnosis of a food allergy, severely limiting conclusions about best practices for management and prevention.” Basically, the authors came to the clear conclusion that, when it comes to diagnosing food allergies, there is no clear conclusion.

    There are millions of people in the US with true allergies, including banana allergies. Every year, a few hundred die from anaphylactic reactions. Unfortunately, the seriousness of their condition is diluted by fearful patients and parents who unknowingly exaggerate potential allergic reactions to the point that children with food allergies are a laughing matter. Peanut-free zones in schools are ridiculed, concerned parents are caricatured as over-protective yuppies, and allergy sufferers are painted as histrionic whiners. Too many people cry wolf, to the detriment of everyone who truly experiences serious food allergies.

    Many people have skin reactions to the test but do not have any allergic reaction when they actually eat the specific food.

    So the bottom line is, medical testing over-diagnoses allergies, and many people are needlessly worried about their reaction to a peanut butter and banana sandwich. On the other hand, some do have legitimate concern as true allergies do exist.”

  70. Oh, I forgot to link to ‘mass psychogenitic illness’ at wikipedia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_Psychogenic_Illness

    I’m sure I’ll get outraged reactions from moms-with-a-kid-with-serious-allergies about this…
    YES, serious, anaphalactic shock, allergies DO exist, and maybe you kid has one, I’m not denying that. And I’m sure that you wouldn’t think your kid had allergies if some doctor hadn’t tested him positive for one. BUT!
    But the whole overblown, ‘twenty percent of american kids have some kind of allergy’ thing has all the hallmarks of a mass psychogenitic illness.

    To quote someone whom I’ve linked to above, unless you’re a character on “Heroes,” genes don’t mutate fast enough to have caused an 18% increase in childhood food allergies between 1997 and 2007.

  71. Okay, last link (it’s just that this is a very good one):

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/03/health/03well.html

    “Doctors say that misdiagnosed food allergies appear to be on the rise, and countless families are needlessly avoiding certain foods and spending hundreds of dollars on costly nonallergenic supplements. In extreme cases, misdiagnosed allergies have put children at risk for malnutrition.

    And avoiding food in the mistaken fear of allergy may be making the overall problem worse — by making children more sensitive to certain foods when they finally do eat them.”

    “The most important question in diagnosing food allergy is whether the child has tolerated the food in the past, Dr. Fleischer says. While some severe allergies are obvious, parents given a positive blood test result should seek advice from an experienced allergist who performs medically supervised food challenge testing.

    Even when a food allergy has been confirmed, parents should have children retested, because many allergies are outgrown, particularly in the cases of milk, eggs, soy and wheat.

    Doctors’ groups are also starting to acknowledge that some of their own policies may have contributed to overtesting and misdiagnoses. A committee for the American Academy of Asthma Allergy and Immunology is considering revised guidelines recommending earlier introduction of foods like eggs, peanuts and shellfish, which in the past have been delayed until age 2 or 3. A 2008 study of 10,000 British children, reported in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, found that early exposure to peanuts lowered allergy risk.”

    “If the kid has been doing fine, I would advise parents not to get allergy testing, because the results are more likely to be false positives than true positives,” Dr. Christakis said in an interview. “If they do think they need allergy testing, be extremely measured and go to reputable people.”

    Okay, I’ll stop now…

  72. Mikie: Yes there is a rise in food allergies. The experts are not sure why though. There are theories but no sure reasons. For us its genetics. My husband has a severe shellfish allergy and I had a good reason to believe our kids would end up with a food allergy and one of them did. Not sure why Hubby developed his shellfish allergy. It was an adult allergy that did not show up till his 20s which shellfish allergies are common to do that. People develop those out of nowhere for some reason. Others in his family develop random allergies too. His brother had a tomato allergy for like 2 years and then it went away. Who knows!? My family really doesn’t have food allergies but we have food intolerances. My husband has also recently become lactose intolerant to a point. He can only eat certain kinds of dairy and in limited quantities. That did not happen till a couple years ago. People in my family have problems with onions where if they eat them raw or in large quantities their stomachs hurt. Go figure.

    I teach my son about his allergies and we manage them ourselves. I don’t call for peanut bans at schools. I just ask for small accomodations like no peanuts in the classroom and have the kids wash their hands after eating peanuts and sitting my son next to someone without peanuts in their lunch. Nothing too huge to overcome. Also letting me send his food to school and letting him carry his epipen on him and keeping treats for him in the classroom so if someone brings cupcakes he can’t eat he doesn’t have to miss out on a treat completely.

  73. and don’t forget that many allergies are misdiagnosed, often for years or even decades, as something else entirely (either another allergy or another disease).
    Case in point: my sister, who has a severe milk protein allergy (which wasn’t tested for in any of the standard tests at the time and I think still isn’t).
    For over a decade she was put on a variety of medications for things ranging from asthma to arthritis to sleeping sickness.

    At least one doctor simply told my parents that she was just lazy and should be spanked more (she was prone to sleeping sometimes 36 hours at a time after eating cheese, drinking milk, or indeed anything containing whey powder or other milk protein).
    Here’s a kid that went to complete 3 university courses (with 3 degrees) by the time she was 25 and another college degree a few years later. Meeting a doctor who happened to have visited a conference on rare allergies a few weeks before and remembered the symptoms changed her life.

    In the modern “safety conscious” world, an entire camp would have to be free from icecream, cheesecake, cheeseburgers, frozen yoghurt, hot cocoa, etc. etc. just because people like her exist.

  74. Peter: Yes, they can die from a sunburn. Melanomas come from childhood sunburns. I have no way of knowing which sunburn can or will cause a melanoma in his future. My mother has giant moles all over her back because when she was young her mother didn’t put sunscreen on her and she got burned very badly. She has had to have several of them surgically removed and it is expensive and hurts. I am trying to save my kids that trouble in the future. If you want to let your kids get sunburned go ahead but I am not letting my kids get sunburned nor myself or my husband. In our family, the rule is no sunscreen no outside and I enforce it too. We all burn super easy because we are all a bunch of super pale cave dwellers. We go outside almost everyday to play but we also have to slather on sunscreen.

    Even if you don’t develop melanoma, sun causes premature aging as well. I want my sons to be handsome in their older ages so I am trying to prevent sun spots and leathery aged skin on them too. Also on me. I have great skin thanks to sunscreen. They will thank me when they look hot in their 50s.

  75. Marion: The thing is I don’t know ANYONE who just goes and gets allergy testing for no reason. It is expensive, time consuming and painful. We had our son get it because when I fed him eggs and peanuts for the first time he broke out into hives. So it was a real reaction from the actual food. Of course the allergy tests were conclusive with a blood test and a scratch test. I don’t know anyone who just goes and gets allergy testing for the heck of it and I know several food allergic kids. They all had reactions from food so their parents took them to an allergist after that. So I kinda doubt that article personally. Allergy tests are even a good thing because we found out through the blood test his egg allergy is gone. So he can eat eggs now and get the flu shot!!! Peanut is declining we found out as well so maybe he will all the way outgrow that one too!

    Some parents do freak out and go overboard on allergy protection, but the ones I know are very chill about it. I have never demanded anyone to have peanut free food. I always bring him some oreos when we go to birthday parties because he could not eat the cake when he had the egg allergy. It was not a problem. Now he can usually eat the cake. I might say something if they serve peanut butter cookies and peanut butter sandwiches and peanut butter everything, but for the most part it is no problem. Parents usually are surprised by how chill we are about it. My son never cried because he did not get cake. He just knew he got his oreos and was totally happy with that. Probably because it has always been that way since he was a baby.

  76. @ dmd: “I think the BSA forms are pretty standard, although I do wish they would get it all online so you could fill it out once and then just update.”

    Forms that are on-line would be useless at camp. The leaders must have copies of the forms in their possession, so it can actually be used when needed. BSA camps are often in remote areas where there would be no access to internet, not to mention the totally non-camping idea of having a laptop in camp. It’s also much easier to hand an ER doctor a piece of paper than to deal with on-line forms in that situation.

    Having parents update on-line and the leader’s then print them out would put the printing expense on the volunteer. Also, many parents would repeatedly “forget” to do it, and with a written form, you can just hand it to them and say “do it NOW”. (Not all camps require a yearly Dr’s form)

  77. Silver Fang, no kid under the age of 45 should be allowed to put on sunscreen by himself because he does not know how and will not be aware of reaching specific places and will burn and die.

    I’m amazed at the stories of people who had to wear lifejackets to go swimming. Everything I know from swimming, from lifeguarding to teaching swimming, says that in most cases wearing a PFD for swimming is stupid (note: I said most cases. I can tell you right off the bat five cases where I personally was swimming and felt PFDs were the way to go). You can’t manuever yourself properly. Now, I do believe in wearing PFDs when on boats, though.

  78. <>

    It seems everyday at my councill’s bSA office we have people demanding why stuff can’t be done online. It’s because people like me will have to spend all our time calling up forgettaful parents to aski questions and fix things.

  79. Dolly, it’s so refreshing to hear from another parent of an allergic child that is not going crazy. I’ve had a few people tell me that I’m endangering my child by eating peanuts in her presence. We’re pretty relaxed but we do worry about her during her teen years because teens have the highest incidence of allergic reactions because a) they’re rebellious by nature, b) many were young when they had their last reaction and forget/ignore symptoms c) are embarrassed about being different and don’t tell friends to take precautions or report symptoms and d) they haven’t been taught how to manage their allergy and the new-found independence has lead to some costly errors. We’re hoping that we’re giving her the skills to manage when she’s out on her own all the time.
    We’ve had friends who when having our daughter as a guest, feel the need to sterilize their home and throw away all peanut products. They are shocked that I didn’t do the same. When she’s invited over, I find out what’s on the menu for snacks/meals and there’s always been SOMETHING for her to eat. I will send food if the parent is completely unsure and paranoid. For birthday parties, I bake a batch of cupcakes and freeze them. We send her to parties with her cupcake and icing. Even if the cake is safe (we know of a few bakeries in the area that specialize in allergen-free cakes), she often just wants her cupcakes. We sent a pack of rice krispies for the classroom so if there is a treat, she can have one. We’ve also told her that if someone offers her a treat, and she is unsure if it is safe, bring it home for us to check and she can maybe eat it then or I will give her one of her alternative treats. She and my son are used to being patient and waiting for a treat while their friends are enjoying theirs. Its simply a fact of life for my kids and people are amazed that my kids don’t get upset when they’re not able to partake in group treats.

    As for sunscreen, my kids have been able to apply their sunscreen themselves, faces included, since age 4. By 2 and a half they could do their own arms and legs. We have a head to toe check system that we have done since they were babies so it’s routine. They do a better job than most adults. They know that the blob of sunscreen they put in their hand for each limb needs to be the size of a toonie. If you teach them how to do it properly, you will save yourself a ton of time in the morning and they gain independence. I also know that when they are at camp or school and need to reapply, they will do an excellent job of re-applying, rather than the slap and smear job that most of my students try. All it takes is one bad sunburn and you have increased your risk of skin cancer.

  80. I am going to start teaching my boys to do their own sunscreen. I don’t think they can do it all alone though. Not yet, mostly because they still run away and freak out and cry when I put it on them now. They hate when I put it on them mostly when I put it on their face because I have to get it all over and even on their ears. They kinda rebel about it. Maybe if they can put in on at least their legs and arms themselves they might feel cool and grown up about it. I will still have to do face and back of neck the most important places myself because I know if they don’t get it good enough those will be the first places to burn as those are the places that get a little red even with sunscreen on.

  81. Dolly: That’s exactly how I started my kids out when applying on their own. They loved putting it on their legs (easiest limbs to master-least likely to burn) and I think that because they were in control of the situation, it made the face/ears application go much smoother. Now the problem is they put on too much!

  82. It’s funny, if natural, that we each have our own areas of “free range” and “freaking out.” The trick is to respect each other where we are, and not label each other “helicopter parent” or “child abuser” where we differ.

    Personally, I don’t get the sunscreen hysteria — oops, see what I mean? The sunscreen concern, that is. Our kids grew up in Central Florida and only wore sunscreen when they were going to be at the beach or standing in an open field for a significant amount of time. Yet they almost never got burnt, even in the powerful Florida sun — and when they did, it was usually when we were relying on sunscreen and later discovered we’d missed a spot or two. You use common sense: play in the shade most of the time, and if you’re going to be inside, plan it for between the hours of 11am and 3pm. Both are excellent ideas when it’s so hot, anyway.

    I’m a lot more worried about the effects of all the chemicals from frequent application of sunscreen — but to each his own concern.

  83. Linda: You’re right to be concerned about the chemicals in sunscreen and I’m sure most parents are. There are websites that rate sunscreens (need to check every year as it gets updated) based on the chemicals/toxins and how well the ingredients actually protect the skin from the sun. For me, I have no pigment on most of my body due to vitiligo. I have worn sunscreen since I was a small child because I can burn within 10 minutes being outside on a sunny day, summer or winter. Skin cancer is a real risk for me and my children as they may have the same genetic defect that I have (vitiligo usually starts to show by age 8, and gets progressively worse due to activity and sun exposure). The only option to not wearing sunscreen for me is avoiding being outdoors or near windows and that is not possible nor the way I want to live my ilfe! Thanks to my vigilance to sun exposure, I have very young skin. I have had a few cancer scares but none have been problematic. I think for some people it’s one of those situations where you toss a coin and decide which risk is the one you’re going to worry about.

  84. I was in the Peace Corps in Latvia 10 years ago. I worked for the Red Cross and my co-workers put on a leadership camp. I was amazed by the informality and differences from anything you would see here. There were no forms at all, we whoever showed up, stayed for the week. Their parents didn’t know us from anyone else in the town. But it was they Red Cross, so they trusted us. It happened to be in the 90’s that week and we didn’t drink a drop of water all week. Guess what, no one dehydrated! What did we offer? Hot tea. The kids went swimming whenever they wanted in the lake across the street in their underwear. There wasn’t a beach or anything, so they had to walk through weeds to get there. And the 60 year old boss lady bought beer for the very young counselors at night. All the kids, teenage boys and girls, slept in under the same tent/tarp. There was 1 bathroom. No one took showers. The kids did all of the cooking and cleaning–never a complaint. When they got bored at night, they played the piano and sang or put on skits. Without any prompting from the adults, who were probably drunk by then ; ) Oh and some of the kids smoked too. On the last day, the campers put on a games day for all the kids in the town and everyone had a great time including the Mayor. One game involved scissors and a blindfold. And they probably actually developed some leadership skills.

  85. The daycare I worked at had a good system for food allergies. In the classroom where the allergic child stayed they had pictures up about the size of a sheet of paper that had a picture of the allergic food such as a peanut and then the kids name on top in big letters. That way all you needed to do was glance up at the papers if you were unsure and you saw the signs 100 times a day and it got ingrained in your brain. Worked out pretty well. Not as easy in a camp to do something like that but they could put signs up in the employee lounge or something and that might help them be able to remember the allergies better.

  86. I’m the director of an after-school program, and we run a summer camp for grades K-6. There’s a fair amount of ridiculous licensing requirements regarding waivers and permission, etc. I play along, but don’t over-worry it. (I won’t withhold sunscreen from a child who’s signature has lapsed) I’m a pretty free-range parent, but tend to be more cautious when in charge of other people’s children. Last summer we introduced bike riding to summer camp. It’s so small-scale but the kids LOVE it. they can bring a bike or scooter or skateboard and they can ride around a small area of the empty parking lot. The staff was so concerned that parents wouldn’t go for it, that they would freak out over the smallest injury. We were pleasantly surprised by their supportive response. We had LOADS of skinned knees and elbows, a few mildly damaged bikes, and NOT ONE complaint. Bike riding became one of the most popular features of our camp. So simple, so fun. No one has to sign a waiver. I make them wear their helmets, but no knee pads or elbow pads, etc. just fun. sometimes we turn on the sprinkler and they can ride through it. why did this feel so risky? we almost didn’t offer it because we were afraid of complaints or lawsuits. we’ve gotten nothing but support. it was a good lesson in not making assumptions that all of the parents are helicopter parents.

    this year, a parent asked if her son could ride his bike, by himself, to and from camp. At first I was going to say no. Our policy has always been “An adult MUST escort a child into the program to sign in and an adult MUST come into the program at the end of the day to sign the child out”. But After a year of reading this blog I stopped myself and asked WHY I have this policy. this child rides his bike to and from this same school building almost every day of the school year. (he’s a 4th grader). He lives ridiculously close to the school. As a mom, I let my own son ride his bike to and from school. I know these kids are very safe, but it’s so hard to let go of policy! I talked it through with the mom, and we agreed that she would sign the official “transportation plan” (mandated by licensing) which allows him to arrive and depart on his own. We also agreed that he will always call home before he leaves camp so that I have the assurance someone is home to meet him. (couldn’t quite let go of the “what if he doesn’t make it home and somebody sues me” concern). It’s a good compromise, and now two other families are letting their kids ride to camp. I never would have said yes to this a year ago, but it’s working out beautifully and the kids LOVE the independence and are handling very well. Thanks to this community to helping me be rational!

  87. Linda – I agree with you about not understanding this obsession with sunscreen. I put sunscreen on my daughter when we are swimming or going to be outside for a lengthy period of time (more than walking to and fro a vehicle) during peak sun hours. And I don’t reapply frequently. She’s never had a sunburn (nor have I in many years) and we are pale people. Excepting the person with a skin condition, people should not be vitamin d deficient due to sunscreen use (an issue today).

    I also agree with whoever stated that the entire 5 page form could’ve been boiled down to 2 questions – list any allergies and list any serious illnesses. It is not like some parent is going to forget to mention that her child is diabetic because the form doesn’t specifically ask about that condition.

    I looked up some of these forms from BSA online just because I was curious. One asked about “menstrual problems” and specified that the question was for females only. Really? I wouldn’t have known without that helpful hint.

  88. @Sally – now THAT camp sounds fun – for kids AND adults.

    Also agree that “sun phobia” has gotten out of hand. Last year when I was back visiting the States, my friend’s twin boys (9 years old I think) asked her if would be all right if they took off their t-shirts to go in the (we were at another friend’s house) pool. ??? She explained (exasperated, I’m happy to say) that they get the kids so worked up these days about sun exposure, that her boys won’t just take off their shirts without giving it a second thought. C’mon, that’s just weird.

  89. @Cass, agree with you about the buddy system being important, over here in NZ the Mountain Safety Council recommends 4 people, so two can walk out and one can stay with the injured party – one of the issues being with the dense bush cover,it’s relatively easy to get lost, fall over the edge of unseen cliffs etc. (Sis and I, at age 9 and 10 or so, once spent a half hour looking for our favourite tree, no more than 10 feet off the main track of the bush we’d previously spent ages in, because we’d taken a new ‘path’ to get there – the bush was that thick. Good lesson for us….never did tell our parents, LOL!). so lots of things like that just common sense. Seem to lose a couple of tourists a year because they underestimate the terrain, wander off by themselves, yada, yada…..

    @Linda. Would be nice not to have to apply sunscreen….I am a mongrel breed, reasonably tan skin, but the old hole in the ozone layer means we have to be fairly vigilant….Obviously what we have to be annoyingly vigilant about must vary location to location. Personally I prefer having to apply sunscreen to having to watch out for bears etc! – those Canadians/ North, North American types must be really brave! And as for snakes, spiders etc, I take my hat off to Australians!

  90. Just because you don’t burn doesn’t mean you can judge people who do. Consider yourself lucky. You are welcome to come take my ginger outside anytime you want and you will see how quickly his skin gets red if you don’t apply sunscreen or reapply it enough. Sunscreen is expensive, I wouldn’t use it if I didn’t have to. That would save us a bunch of money.

  91. Interesting… the day camp my kids attended this past week specified that the counselors were only allowed to apply spray-sunscreen. I didn’t think anything of it, and threw a can of spray in their bag. Now I wonder if that was the reason! I didn’t question it, but now you have me wondering.

  92. Not specifically camp related, but I am a Cub Scout leader. Our Cub Scout pack is associated with our church, and I thought it’d be cool to have the Cub Scout events appear on the church calendar. The calendar is accessible only through a password-protected website that is available only to members (membership is verified through church records before access is granted) and the site also has a directory of members. So I submitted an event for posting, and was told that they couldn’t post Cub Scout events for the safety of the children– pervs or stalkers might go to the meetings, knowing children would be there. I pointed out that the posting would only be accessible to people who already had access to the membership directory which lists the children’s home addresses and phone numbers. If the kids were safe enough giving out this information, why wouldn’t they be just as safe posting the Cub Scout meetings? Surprisingly, they agreed and let me post Cub Scout events to the calendar.

  93. At the camp my son went to two years ago, I was required to show my ID to the counselor every single afternoon when I picked up my son. For two weeks. When I said something cranky about it, the counselor replied, deadpan, “Yeah, it’s because of all those identical twin abductions.”

    Last year he spent two weeks studying video game design at an expensive day camp with a minimum age of 12. It was held on a college campus, so obviously there was no playground and minimal outdoor time, and there was no lunch or snack service. So the opportunities for injury were pretty much limited to carpal tunnel syndrome. For that camp I had to fill out something like eight pages of forms and submit his entire immunization history. At least at that camp, I was allowed to sign a release so that he could, theoretically, leave on his own, which in practical terms meant I could just go pick him up and go home, instead of waiting in line for a sign-out sheet.

    This year he’s too old for camp, thank goodness.

    On the other hand, the bargain-priced theater camp for ages 8-18 which my daughter is attending for her second summer required minimal paperwork and has no special drop-off or pick-up procedure. And, believe it or not, I haven’t heard of any little actors getting kidnapped in the parking lot.

  94. Has no one heard of spray sunscreen? This problem could have easily been solved by using this instead, without making a fuss! It’s all we use, as slathering it on a 1yr old os a PITA. *Not that I care who applies sunblock- even if it was a perv, whats going to happen at a public pool surrounded by others? And aren’t camp counselors already checked out? UGH.*

    I’m sad that the scouts openly discriminate against gays and atheists. I think my son might like it, when he’s older, but only if we find a troop that doesn’t follow these awful practices. Why they can’t step into the current century, I just don’t get it. So what if you don’t like my beliefs about god being non existent- this has nothing to do with he outdoors anyway! Dont get me started on homophobia- it’s so stupid I can’t even grasp the “logic”.

    Check out “Camp Quest” for freethinkers. it’s very cool!

  95. @Dolly, you are a riot. You freely admit all over this blog how you judge whether someone is a good parent or not based one one minute’s observation of one incident in the life of the people you’re judging. But you get all huffy and say “don’t judge” about sunscreen use? How about giving us all a break and looking inside yourself instead of criticizing everyone else.

  96. Allison: You are a riot too for suggesting I “Look inside myself” because I have and I know my faults but I also know how much I rule and therefore am quite proud of myself. Thanks for trying though. :) Also again, I am proud of myself because I use sunscreen and my skin looks young and I can pass for someone much younger than I am and the ones who don’t use sunscreen cannot always say the same for themselves. I also am proud of myself that melanoma will not be the thing that ends me.

  97. Spray sunscreen doesn’t work on little ones who are not good enough to listen to you when you say close your eyes so I can spray ya in the face with this sunscreen. I probably might be able to get them to do that now but when they were 2? Forget it. Mine are dense.

  98. Wow Dolly. Just wow. (And no, I’m not wowing at the fact that you rule.)

  99. whether it be photographs of your childhood? very sweet

  100. My bike outing was cancelled when the temps were in the 90s with a heat index of 97 (That means it was humid and felt like 97). We are a licensed day care facility and there is a rule that kids cannot go outside when it’s over 90. Of course, they can go swimming, but not biking a short distance (3/4 of a mile) to a beach for swimming. I understand the need to be cautious when it’s hot, but I really feel like this rule teaches kids how to be afraid of the outdoors. I’m all for common sense. Going slow and taking breaks is the best thing we can do to teach our kids how to handle hot weather. There is nothing I can do the change this rule so I have to change my afternoon rides or make my bike club a non-licensed program. Not sure which option I’ll choose.

  101. We are a licensed day care facility and there is a rule that kids cannot go outside when it’s over 90. Of course, they can go swimming, but not biking a short distance (3/4 of a mile) to a beach for swimming.

    Where are you? If I’d had that rule for my kids here in Florida they’d have been inside for months and we’d ALL have been miserable.

  102. Buffy: Wow right back at you. Must make you feel good to call out one particular poster and bully them for their opinion.

  103. Peter wrote:
    “Statistics say that there will be 8,620 deaths this year from skin cancer. In comparison, 58,200 children will be abducted by non-family members.”

    Please list a citation for that second figure.

    I’ve read the same stats that Lenore does; she writes “Over at the think tank STATS.org, where they examine the way the media use statistics, researchers have found that the number of kids getting abducted by strangers actually holds very steady over the years. In 2006, that number was 115, and 40% of them were killed.” 115 is very much different than 58,200!

  104. My daughter’s YMCA camp required the kids go around in groups of THREE. Two makes sense, but three just makes it extra difficult to find yet another person who wants to go on this trail, or over to that clearing, or whatever.

  105. Dolly: Must make you feel good to pick out one parent who might be having a bad day and decide that they “don’t give a flip.”

  106. @Cynthia, actually 3 people is a standard for safety. If an accident happens one persons stays with the injured person and the 3rd goes for help. My sister and I were out goofing around on our family farm when I slipped down the creek bank and did a number on my knee and ankle. My sister was youngish 5 or 6. She did not want to leave me to get help. It would have been easier if my cousin had been there.

  107. Kherbert, I know it is standard for caving and situations that are risky, but as we can see in the other comments, two appears to be the standard for walking around a summer camp.

    Your example does point up something important: even having another person along doesn’t necessarily help if that person is incapable or unwilling to go for help.

  108. Buffy: Do you realize what a hypocrite you are being? You are being judgmental about my judgmentalness! LOL!

  109. @hineata. Completely off topic but we spent Christmas “tramping” down in Fiordland (NZ) a few years back. We did the Routeburn, Hollyford and Kepler tracks. Heard some freaky stories about seasoned hikers dying trying to take shortcuts, crossing water too deep etc.

  110. Cynthia – I may be making a judgment that is wrong. At the camps I went to we had boundaries. In the main area we could just walk around. If we left the main area, we had to tell someone where we were going and had to have 3 people with us. The river or lake areas were off limits completely when the lifeguards weren’t on duty (basiclly after dusk.)

    The one time I remember getting into trouble was when my Pide Pipper of a cousin convinced a group of girls to go to Catholic Mass. SO they missed the dinner call for our cabin. I was going to be punished also – till I pointed out repeatedly that I was CATHOLIC and required to go to mass. Cousin had told a councilor she was going so she didn’t get in trouble – but they tried to make her go each week after that. They couldn’t wrap their heads around she wasn’t Catholic and I was.

  111. My 8 yr. old just got back from a week at YMCA camp. He got to use a bow and arrow, shoot a gun (BB, I hope…), swim in the pool and river, fish, etc. It doesn’t seem to have changed any from the summer camps of my childhood.

  112. @Cass – Good on you guys! Am also going to go way off topic – would love to head down that way, but can’t do it as a family quite yet because my middle one has chronic, minor health issues, which become major when she’s not in easy reach of antibiotics….(Wish we could just prescribe our own meds – would make life so much easier!)The scenery down that way is stunning, isn’t it! Anyway, yeah, still seem to lose even seasoned people on a yearly basis, usually to flooded rivers or the cold. The head of the local museum died recently tramping in hills not far from here….Experienced too, so probably didn’t pay the attention he should have to weather reports, advice from people he met on the trail etc. I think they (him and companion) got caught in a whiteout when the weather changed….Only a few hundred metres from the hut too. Sad….In their case, BTW, extra people wouldn’t have been a lot of use,methinks, except maybe to persuade them to turn back earlier, as the cold would have affected them all….

    And, way, way off topic….What about Australia? We used to get told that you needed to pack lots of water etc when travelling longdistance, in case you fell asleep with the long stretches and woke up off the road. Is that true, or just urban legend? Makes some sense to me – I would probably get thirsty regardless, and though it must be wonderful to be able to drive in a straight line for a long time, it might get a little tiresome :-) ….

  113. The problem with spray on sunscreen is that you still have to rub it in to get proper coverage. It’s one of those products that sounds good (I can apply sunscreen without touching my child and getting my hands greasy!) but in theory doesn’t work at all. Most of them will say in the instructions that you need to rub in the sunscreen after spraying.

  114. This isn’t really a new and ridiculous rule, but one I am trying to work around. My 13 year old will be attending a summer day program at a local college soon. This college is about a mile from my house. Because I have to get my younger child to camp AND be at work at the same time as my daughter’s program starts, it would make my life a lot easier if she could just sign herself in and out and walk or ride her bike home. The college won’t let me even if I sign and notarize something saying I relieve them of all liability before and after she signs herself out. I know it is not a state regulation because a summer program she attends at a different college (further from our house at about 1.5 miles) lets her do it.

    Here’s the thing – my daughter rides her bike and walks around this neighborhood all the time. She takes the city bus to school that goes right past this college. She goes to the supposedly “tough” school in town. She probably has more street smarts and knowledge of how to get around the neighborhood than the suburban older teens who will be supervising her until an adult signs her out.

    I’m not sure what to do or whether to just suck it up and be late to things for a couple of weeks while she’s in this program.

  115. I think, as a camp leader in our town, we are not supposed to put Band aids on kids if they get hurt. Huh?

  116. I love my daughter’s camp. It’s a girls’ camp run by Catholic Sisters. The form is about a half a page long: Name, address, insurance information, etc. and “check which session” “any health issues?” and “who would you like to room with?”

    While there this year, my daughter (who’s 15) was feeling a little constipated. This has been an issue for awhile, but not at the time we filed out the paperwork. She took some fiber tablets with her. On Wednesday, Sister called to let me know dd was wanting to take the tablets, but since I hadn’t mentioned them, she just wanted to double check. Dd had not taken this kind before and had asked Sister to help her figure out the dose. She didn’t read me the Riot Act for failing to disclose my daughter was carrying concelled medication, just asked if it was okay. I told her it was. Problem solved.

  117. Wow, I had to sign one of those waivers fo my son’s school. I assumed it was in case he had a reaction to the sunscreen, the “pervert” angle never crossed my mind!

  118. @theintentionalparent: I made the exact same assumption. I don’t think about perverts much, unless I have some immediate reason to. I don’t know anybody who thinks about perverts much (or if they are, they keep it to themselves).

    So I wonder if sometimes the “us against them” vibe in these discussions actually emphasizes the worry about stranger danger. Are we becoming so vigilant about looking for what we feel are un-called for regulations that we forget we’d prefer not to worry about this stuff?

    Maybe we could just take the forms at face value. Maybe that’s how they’re intended.

  119. Are you sure the sunscreen block is for fear of pervs? I have requested them NOT to apply it to my kid because a lot of modern sunscreens cause her to break out. This is common for ezcema sufferers. Of course, it makes more sense to have an opt out than an opt in in this case.

  120. “Dolly, on July 8, 2011 at 19:51 said:
    Marion: The thing is I don’t know ANYONE who just goes and gets allergy testing for no reason. It is expensive, time consuming and painful. ”

    I know of a number of parents that include allergy testing as part of the usual trips to the pediatrician as you child grows up. You get vaccines and allergy tests. Partly because there seems to be a rise in allergies these parents think to get tested before their child has an actual reaction. I also know of at least two children personally who tested positive for nut and dairy allergies and it turns out they did not react to either food.

    For years I worked at a private school where it seemed like almost all children had one allergy or another. I spoke with a friend of mine who is a parent and teacher in a completely different area of the country and in a school where the economic levels of the students were vastly different. She reported only one or two allergies in the entire school, instead of three or four in every class.

    This is wild speculation and completely unscientific ramblings on my part, but I do wonder if there is not an economic factor in the number of allergies reported. Is there something about really good maternity care? Could it be that since peanut butter is provided by WIC, poorer children are more likely to get exposed in utero? Is it that the more well off families/those that have more comprehensive health insurance are getting tested more routinely for allergies and are running into the false positives that Marion was bringing up?

    Please, please, please note, I am not saying this is the case of all children. There are a lot of really frightening life threatening allergies out there. For the most part too, I have been really impressed with the children’s abilities to be aware of their allergies and their mature reactions.

  121. The school I worked at had a number of students with life threatening allergies. One of the rules (laws?) said that if a child was having an anaphylactic reaction and there was not an adult present who had taken a course on proper epi-pen use, no one was to give the child a shot. It was advised anyway to put the epipen in the child’s hand and hope their parents had taught them how to use it.

    Due to the fear of a reaction to the epi-pen, an adult is expected to do nothing in a certain situation. If you have a child in front of you that is having an anaphylactic reaction and you know they have a specific allergy and they were exposed, even if you are licensed to give the epi-pen, if the specific child does not have his own, Dr. prescribed epi-pen you are not allowed to give him someone else’s. You are expected to call 911 and stand there watching the child stop breathing

  122. Wow Kate. That is one school my son would not be attending then. He has a life threatening peanut allergy and even though I send him with an epipen and I am going to teach him how to use it,. this policy would be unacceptable to me. I would be homeschooling him till I got it fought and changed.

  123. Kate: maybe in your area, but not with the moms I know. All their kids only get allergy tested when there was some kind of problem such as reflux, bad gas, an allergic reaction, etc that might be related to food allergies. For my son, the allergy testing cost around $700 dollars and he had about 200 skin pricks and 3 injections and 2 blood draws. Not something a sane parent is going to put their child through for no reason. He was only about 18 months old and it was very scary and painful for him but he toughed through it. We did not have a choice since he did have an allergic reaction. I cannot imagine a pediatrician making a child do that for no good reason.

  124. ps- I live in a suburban white middle and upper middle class area too so in that case, we are the well off families and we still don’t get allergy testing done for no good reason.

  125. My 4-year-old son just started day camp this week. I had to fill out a permission slip specifically authorizing the three fresh-faced young college girls in charge of his care to be able to re-apply sunscreen to him. Because re-applying sunscreen involves touching, and I need to give specific permission for that.

    I feel bad for the camp, because they’re just protecting themselves, but really, a sunburn is much more harmful to my son than one of these young ladies touching my son to apply lotion. Did I mention that one of these ladies is a member of my congregation and I know her whole family?

  126. Dolly, While the policy is harsh, given the actual situation I can’t imagine any adult being able to stand by and do nothing. Besides that, though, any child with LTA are required to bring 2 epi-pens to school. One stays in the child’s classroom and the other travels anywhere the child goes, to recess or to gym, etc. so it’s not as scary as you might otherwise think from my description.

  127. I took my 2 and 3 year old daughters to the YMCA playground this week while the YMCA day camp was in session and got to listen to the camp counselor giving the 5 year old campers instructions on all the things they were NOT allowed to do on the playground which pretty much covers anything you can do on a playground.
    They were NOT allowed to climb on the ladder or the spiderweb, hang on the monkey bars, jump off anywhere off the playscape and go down the slide in any other way then sitting up straight on their bottom, one at a time. All they were basically allowed to do was to WALK up the stairs to the slide, wait in line and slide down one at a time. And (gasp!) they were allowed to cross the hanging bridge!
    And I am not talking about some crazy dangerous playscape, this is a small playscape the YMCA put up for kids to play on and even my two year old can maneuver it safely.
    This camp has officially managed to take any amount of fun out of summer camp. Needless to day I won’t be sending my kids to this summer camp, ever.

  128. My daughter just got back from running around on a special trek at Philmont Boy Scout Ranch for 20 days, and had a blast. She climbed mountains, did archery, worked in a forge hammering metal on an anvil, and loaded up a burro. They now have 2 rangers assigned to them instead of the one ranger that I had 30 years ago, and I wish that they had a little more of the freedom that we had then, but for the most part, they were still challenged. The health forms can probably be re used for future Scouting events and are pretty standard. BSA has pretty good insurance for individuals that comes with the scouts membership, and the paperwork is to help in the event of an accident.

  129. Why don’t they just get some of that spray sunscreen that’s so popular these days? Not that I think we should be banning touch; touch is a necessary part of communication, and a lack of touch is the more likely danger to our kids rather than the unlikely scenario of bad touch by strangers. I worry that our kids will lack empathy and connection to others.

  130. Know what’s extra ridiculous about having the Dr. sign off on camp forms? They’re probably going to glance at it and sign it off. If it gets read at all, it will be by a nurse. All of our checks are meaningless.

  131. My husband took our son’s Cub Scout den to a day camp that included swimming. The boys had to go to the pool through a locker room. Our group accidentally went to the pool through the men’s bathroom. The leaders of the camp blew a loud whistle (because this was a violation), made the boys come BACK THROUGH the men’s bathroom, and then go to the pool through the locker room. Once in the pool, the boys were given cards they had to hang on a chart if they were in the pool, and back on another board if they were out. One of his boys forgot to move his card. Whistle blows…boys are herded out of the locker room and pool for a count, completely freaking out the boys who are not strong swimmers and afraid of the pool already. My husband points out that there are 25 adults standing around the pool and all can see there’s no one at the bottom of the pool, which wasn’t met well, as you can imagine. Then, as the boys are taking forever in the locker room and late for their next station, my husband suggested he and another leader go to the door to hurry them up. No, no adults can enter the locker room if boys are in there. Now me, personally, I’d rather have an adult in to supervise instead of leaving that to boys. But the most ironic part to my husband was that at the end of the day, after not being trusted on all these matters, he was allowed to load all 5 boys in our minivan alone and drive them 70 miles back to our hometown with no additional supervision. We know all of these measures were implemented with the best of intentions, but common sense, the one thing we’re trying to instill in our children, was clearly NOT allowed at this camp.

  132. oh my God – this morning I had to sign a release for my children to make “mud pies” on Friday at camp. They contain the evil ingredients of chocolate pudding, milk, oreos and gummy worms. I had to choose between “yes, they can have it”, “no, but they can have a sugar-free popsicle”, and “no, they may not have a snack”. REALLY? I had to sign a release for this? I know kids have lactose intolerance, but this camp is for kids 5-8 – do those kids not know how to handle it? I was APPALLED. As if we may sue the camp if our kids get fat from eating their mud pies!!!

  133. @megan Is this new? It might be a stopgap measure if they have been getting a bunch of complaints about sugary snacks.

  134. No Kim, sounds like those measures have nothing to do with safety and everything to do with protecting themselves from liability.

  135. Dolly said, so if a kid gets hurt and is unconcious and also bleeding and allergic to iodine he is someone supposed to tell you he is allergic to iodine while also being unconcious?!”

    Been there, and done that as a ski patroller (much like being an EMT, but it’s way cooler).

    Standard first aid protocol for a bleeding, unconscious child does NOT include iodine or any other potential allergens, so you are fighting a straw man.

    You call 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY or order a non-hysterical bystander adult to do it. If you are the only one with the child, you call 9-1-1 and say “I am at ____, I need medical help for a bleeding, unresponsive child of approximately X years. I’m starting first aid now.” If you have a cell phone, put it on “speaker” and drop it next to the victim so you can keep 9-1-1 updated.

    You make sure the airway is clear and that the child is breathing at the same time as you apply direct pressure to the bleeding area to stop the bleeding using whatever is handy. While holding pressure periodically do a quick check of vital signs to make sure there is still a pulse and breathing. This is a one-armed paperhanger trick if you don’t have bystanders for some help.

    And you periodically yell into the phone on the ground to make sure the ambulance crew is updated with the child’s condition.

    If there is a second person, even a child, they can relay info from you to the 9-1-1 dispatch. If you have a third person, they locate the parents.

    If the unconsciousness appears to be because of a fall or other high-energy impact, and you have the bleeding under control, you put “C-spine” protection in place. If you have oxygen, you administer it via a face mask unless you are doing CPR.

    When the EMTs get there, they do their exams and may apply better bleeding control, put on a neck collar and haul the child off on a backboard to the nearest hospital.

    See, no iodine, no antibiotics, no aspirin … and the standard issue glove for EMTs is no nitrile so you don’t even have to worry about latex.

    NOTE: In this state, I’m protected by Good Samaritan laws, so as long as I stick to standard protocol I can do all that without having parental permission. The laws assume that any reasonable parent would want me to perform immediate life-saving measures.

  136. I went to kids camp for a week, and i had expected it to be like the ones you see in brochures or movies. When we got to do activities, there was at least one guardian for every kid there. And on the canoe (or kayak whatever its called) race, one adult had to be on the boat with you! And they were not really doing outdoors activity because of some kids with allergies. I endes up leaving early and going to a christian camp. And its ironic that the religous camp was actually WAY more free range than the other camp.

  137. You know, my 7 year old just did overnight camp. She had to do her own sunscreen and bug repellent, with reminders from counselors and help if needed. That was fine with me, we talked about it in advance and how to put it on, practiced and stuff.

    I don’t remember who did the sunscreen when I was a camper, but I’m not sure sunscreen was common then either. I do remember working as a counselor for years in the late 90s, and we did not do sunscreen for kids then either. They often had it, and we reminded them, but putting it or bug spray on that many kids would have been near impossible. I think they helped each other with it before doing swim sessions.

    My preschooler did camp at preschool. They ask parents to do sunscreen in the morning, and they reapply in the afternoon, but it’s the spray kind and I suspect they just spray everybody’s shoulders and arms once. They aren’t going kid by kid with different stuff it seems. I’ve seen how long it takes for 10-15 kids that age to wash hands or go potty, and I think time is a more logical argument against it than any worry about danger. Spray on stuff makes sense for time reasons and bonus–if you’re one to get hysterical about touching danger, then spray on sunscreen also means sun protection with no touching needed.

  138. I taught a week-long academic camp this summer, and it was stressed (verbally and in our camp handbook) that we were not allowed to release students to/from classes if there was thunder/lightning suspected or in the area. I understand this concern for an outdoor camp, but when students are not allowed to walk to the next building over on a college campus to eat lunch, it seems a little overboard. This year our handbook was thicker than last year’s version: there was an extra state-required abuse prevention/awareness/reporting section.

  139. About seven years ago I volunteered for the week at a Cub Scout day camp.

    It was the most boring week of my life.

    The camp was held at a wooded location, but I was not permitted to take the kids for a hike through the woods-even on a trail!

    I was told that because of allergies and the possibility of poison ivy, we were only allowed to walk on pavement.

    To earn a badge, the boys were supposed to find animal tracks. (And make an impression.)

    The leader made fake tiger prints in the sand at the volleyball court so the boys could earn the badge without leaving the park.

  140. The leader made fake tiger prints in the sand at the volleyball court so the boys could earn the badge without leaving the park.

    That sums up the problem very well. We don’t dare let our children experience real life, so we set up fake experiences that are safer. There’s a point to some of that (even the most daring gymnasts train with spotters), but then we do a greater disservice by encouraging them to believe the fraud was real, or as good as (“earn the badge”).

  141. That scout leader would have had a heart attack at a “practice” campout my girl scout group went on. Very few of our parents had experience camping. So my father volunteered to have a practice day camp type “campout” at our farm. That way we could practice the skills we needed for the campout.

    The “farm” is owned at the time by 3 household in our family my grandparents, my dad’s sister and her husband, my Dad’s aunt and uncle. It was hunting season so per family rules we called Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Ann (Dad’s sister and her husband). They lived closest and kept track of what different family members were doing. They say fine and mention that the weekend before some other cousins were going hunting. Did Dad need to go down before hand to prepare anything?

    We get down to the farm and are setting up. Dad is showing everyone how to start a good campfire. When the crack of gun echoes around us. Dad told the other parents to get the other girls in the front room of the house and stay there. Following the 3 people rule my sister and I go with Dad down to the lake (actually a pond but the kids called it the lake).

    Dad is figuring there was a mix up with cousin – but the people hunting are NOT our cousin. They claim that cousin owns the property. (Cousin is same age as Dad they were in JH when the property was bought their parents are joint owners). They also claim that cousin told them they could hunt on our property any time. Dad orders them off the property and they leave in a real bad mood.

    We continued with the camp out practice. A couple of parents were a little skitish but we kids were all over the property. We found plenty of deer tracks for our badges and one girl even found a alligator track near the edge of the pond.

    While the rest of us were eating lunch – Dad went into town to the hardware store and bought a new lock for our gate. IT was a bit of a pain because we had to switch from a combo lock to a key lock.

    Turned out that cousin had taken his friends hunting. He had NOT given them permission to return and had specifically mentioned that Dad was bringing down a troop of girl scouts our weekend. Cousin in question is one of those silent types, shy giant of a guy. His wife said he really told the friend off – then cut the guy off completely.

  142. Hi Lenore! I love this site and I love the work you do. I was the director for the summer day camp offered by the school I work at up until last year, when I moved to another position and had a different set of responsibilities. The person who was hired as my replacement is great, but the parents are still nutty.

    I always had complaints from parents about the strangest things. My favorite of all time was a parent who DEMANDED to know why I booked school busses without seat belts. I explained to her that where we live did not have a law requiring seat belts on school busses because they were safe enough, and so none of the companies that rented school busses actually had seat belts. She wanted the NAMES of people to complain to, so I gave her the name of our mayor. Then she wanted to know if she could follow the bus in her car to and from the trip because–and I quote–the bus could FLIP OVER. I don’t know how driving behind it would help, but it was all I could do not to laugh. She was also very disturbed to know we were going swimming in a pool because kids could DROWN. (With lifeguards and adults around?) I told her I hadn’t lost a kid yet. She was not amused.

    This year I’m so glad not to be in charge anymore. With this crazy heat, parents are even crazier. First, the whole school bus thing came up again because the kids would be driving for 20 minutes WITHOUT AIR CONDITIONING! Gasp! Also, I had instituted a morning walk a few years ago. Each day from 8:30-9:00 the kids go for a nice long walk around the park. We’re in a city, and some of them don’t get a lot of time in green space. I had gone to a conference where there was a speaker who had done research on green space. He showed that just 20 minutes a day increases kids’ brain power and attention spans. They didn’t have to be doing anything–they just had to be around trees and grass. This was almost done away with as well, because again, the kids might all pass out and die from sweating, despite the fact that at 8:30 it’s only about 90 degrees.

    Luckily, our principal is a great guy and actually got mad at the parents. The lunch aides had tried to ban tag, but he stepped in for that as well.

    I hope that people really start getting a grip! Funny story: my almost two-year-old just learned how to get herself up on the couch, and now that’s all she wants to do. If she starts jumping on it, I remove her. Yesterday while with family, my aunt was quite disturbed I would allow her on the couch. After all, she could fall! She didn’t like it when I said if she fell she would learn not to do that anymore. (I didn’t tell her she already fell off our couch at home.) My cousin then moved to sit next to my daughter, who was laying on the couch, and held on to one of her legs “just in case”.

  143. I actually have a story about a camp being almost a bit too hands-off. I was a counselor at a 4-H camp and when kids would come in with scrapes we would have to send them to the med office. Not to have it cleaned and bandaged (there were a lot of really nasty knuckle scrapes) mind you but to be handed an alcohol wipe and a bandaid and told to clean it themselves. That sucks as an adult it was even more miserable as a kid!

  144. My daughter had a blast at girl scout camp a couple of weeks ago. While we were talking about camp told me some of the rules:

    No running, skipping or jumping unless in an organized game.
    No catching toads, frogs or bugs
    No climbing trees.

    I thought, and we wonder why the US has such a high obesity rate????

    They had to be with a buddy but that is pretty standard.

    My daughter cannot have artificial colors or flavors and has other restricts. I packed her food for the week. They were excellent at helping with that process.

    Last summer when she was 8 I sent her to CAmp Awajah – a camp I grew up at in Minnesota. That camp is still pretty free range. I did notice that they took town the big rope swing that I enjoyed so much as a child:-) I am sure it is an insurance thing.

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