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Summer camp can be a terrific experience, but preparation is the key

March 29, 2011|By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times

Summer camp can give kids a big dose of fun, independence and self-esteem. But parents should help first-time campers prepare for the experience, according to a new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

For camp to be a happy experience, parents should make sure kids want to go to camp, can handle normal homesickness and that the camp will provide activities that a child is interested in. That means involving the child in the choice, experts wrote.

Parents should be positive about the child's trip to camp. But at the same time, don't avoid the topic of homesickness. Kids need to know those feelings are normal and have some tips to deal with it.

The policy statement, "Creating Healthy Camp Experiences," also has plenty of advice for camp directors and guidelines for parents to ensure they choose a high-quality camp that will protect kids' health and safety. For example, food should never be used as either a reward or punishment at camp. And children should get at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. The statement appears in the April issue of the journal Pediatrics.

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