Summer Camp Packing List for Children with Epilepsy

Epilepsy News From: Thursday, June 06, 2024

Summer is a special time in a child’s life. It gives them a chance to unwind, make new friends, and enjoy fun activities. It's also a season for adventure and exploring new opportunities. However, for kids with epilepsy, the summer season can also bring uncertainty and worry. These worries might prevent them from joining in summer activities or camps, which are important for their enrichment and growth. However, with a simple summer camp packing list for people with epilepsy, your child or teen can go to camp prepared.

Camps designed for children with epilepsy offer many benefits. Some of these benefits include learning about seizure management and a better understanding of their epilepsy. All camps can also help build self-confidence and advocacy skills, create new friendships, discover new skills and interests, and encourage independence.

To help parents and campers prepare to attend camp, we created a summer camp checklist to help get ready for all the fun that awaits over the summer! We've also included some key summer camp packing tips to watch out for. Please note that your camp will have specific guidelines and policies for what to pack, so please be sure to communicate with the camp in advance if you have questions!

Essential Camp Items 

Clothing: Clothes brought to camp should be comfortable and weather appropriate. Temperatures in the summer can become quite extreme and dehydration is a seizure trigger for many. Hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen can also help protect your child from the sun’s powerful rays. If they’ll be attending a camp in a cooler location, don’t forget a light jacket or sweater for chilly evenings!  

Key Tip: Pack layers and clothes that are ok getting messy!

If appropriate based on your healthcare team’s recommendations, make sure to pack swimsuits for any water activities at the camp. Children and teens with active epilepsy should always be supervised at the pool. While camp water activities can be exciting, water safety for people with epilepsy is the most important thing to consider.  

Many camps specifically require only closed-toe shoes for most activities, except for sandals being worn for water activities or the showers. Sturdy shoes are important to help prevent trips and falls when going hiking or playing sports. Just like with swimming, discuss with your child’s doctor and the camp regarding activity restrictions. Most neurologists will ask about high ropes activities or water activities.  

It’s also important to note that camps that have horseback riding as an option may require campers to wear long pants.  

Personal Hygiene: Suggested personal hygiene items include a toothbrush and toothpaste, a hairbrush or comb, shampoo and conditioner, soap or body wash, deodorant, towels and washcloths, sunscreen, insect repellent, and bedding. Each camp may provide different items for its campers, so check in before packing to make sure you’re not overpacking. Some camps may provide bedding, towels or other hygiene products.  

Key Tip: Most camp beds are twin size. Beds are a place of comfort for first-time campers. Bring comfortable and comforting bedding: a fun sleeping bag or blanket, fitted sheet from home, pillows and maybe even a favorite stuffed animal!

Other Items:

Water Bottles: Make sure your camper brings their own water bottle labeled with their name! Hydration is extremely important at every camp. Camps typically encourage campers to bring their own water bottles to activities throughout the day.

Flashlight: As evening falls at many camps, it can get pretty dark! Bringing a flashlight is a helpful tool for your camper. We recommend ensuring there is not a “flash” or “blinking” setting on the light.  

Key Tip: If your camper has photosensitive epilepsy, make sure to include that information on all medical forms and include details on their Seizure Action Plan so the camp can help ensure safety.

What NOT to Bring:

Cell phones and other electronics: Check with your camp, but most camps do not allow campers to have cell phones. Cell phones can be a distraction to the “once in a lifetime” activities offered at camp. If you have concerns about contacting your camper, or there is a medical reason for a cell phone, please contact camp staff to discuss!

Key Tip: Worried about photos? Chat with the camp staff about the best way for your camper to take photos while at camp. We always recommend a traditional camera. In some cases, they may even have a camp photographer.  

Items for Seizure Safety

Medications: First and foremost, check with your camp on their policies and procedures for packing medications. Pack enough medication to last the entire camp session. In some cases, the camp may request that you pack extra. Utilizing the camp medical and medication forms, include a detailed medication list (and schedule if applicable) for the camp. Talk to your camper about their medication schedule and advocating for themselves if they have questions.  

If your camper has been prescribed an emergency or rescue medication, it’s extremely important to include it on your medication list and pack doses with your camper. Even if your camper has never had to use it, rarely uses it, or has only used it once, it’s an important option for the medical team to have at camp. It’s important to keep in mind that camp is filled with amazing new experiences, that happen to take your camper out of their typical routine, causing more opportunities for triggers. Work with the camp medical team on proper distribution and who should have access to the rescue therapy.

Key Tip: Nurses and camp medical professionals are only allowed to give prescribed medication from its original container. This means a few things:

  1. When packing medication – please ensure it’s in the original container with the correct dosing and prescription information.
  2. If you are providing medication to your child that isn’t prescribed, like vitamins or CBD, it’s important to note the policies of the medical staff at camp and know they may not be able to provide them at camp. Please check with the camp on any medication delivery questions.

Other Medical Documentation: Consider including a medical ID bracelet or necklace that clearly indicates emergency contact info and if rescue medication should be used in an emergency.  

Utilizing the camp forms, ensure that the medical team at camp has the best contact information for your child’s neurologist, or medical providers. For emergency contacts, make sure that you include several trusted adults in case parents are unable to be reached.  

Work with your healthcare team to create a detailed seizure action plan that can be shared with the camp healthcare team, and when applicable, the camp counselors and staff.  

Key Tip: A seizure action plan is especially important when your camper is attending a traditional summer camp that isn’t specific for youth and teens with epilepsy. Make sure you are clearly communicating your camper’s needs with the staff prior to camp.  

Diet: Many camps can help with camper dietary restrictions as long as they are notified in advance. If your child is on a specific diet for their epilepsy, like keto, please contact the camp in advance to see if it’s possible to maintain the diet at camp. In some cases, this may be a good time for your camper to practice advocating for themselves in the dining hall.

Key Tip: Some camps are required to be “nut free” due to allergies. If your child is on the keto diet, make sure you know the food policies for campers, and what alternative options are appropriate for nuts and how they could fit into the keto diet.

If you have any additional concerns regarding your child’s stay at the camp, we encourage you to reach out prior to the session to explain any other special needs your child may have so the camp is best prepared to accommodate them. Many camps utilize standards from the American Camping Association, which provides guidelines for safety and programming. And while camps specializing in epilepsy are typically well-prepared, it’s important for caregivers to provide all necessary information and supplies to support their child’s health and safety.  

With the help of this summer camp checklist, we hope your packing for camp becomes a bit easier. Remember, these items will help your child feel safe and help them to have an enjoyable experience while they’re away.

Authored by

Kaitlyn Gallagher

Reviewed by

Allie Anderson

Reviewed Date

Thursday, June 06, 2024

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