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The Professional Worrywart’s Guide to a Safe and Sane Spring Break

February 27, 2009

Right now I’m gearing up for spring break and day camp.  Whether my kids go to horseback riding camp, golf camp or baseball camp (or any combination thereof) here are some simple strategies that allow me to send them off with a smile:

  •  Make your kids stand out – in a good way.  I want my kids to stand out in their counselor’s mind so they won’t get lost in the shuffle of a dozen new names and faces (this lesson was learned the hard way after my then first-grader got left behind at the local zoo during a spring break day camp).  So I’ll fight my natural tendency to be chronically late; instead we’ll arrive early the first day to allow time for me to facilitate personal introductions and a quick chat between my kids and their counselors.
  •  Be a “high maintenance” mom.  Note I didn’t say “obnoxious”.  Simply hang around for 20 minutes or so on that first day to observe and ask a few questions.  Your kids and the counselors will know you care enough to make sure things are running smoothly, plus it gives you a chance to see how the counselors relate to the kids as a group:  Are they in control?  Do they nip bad behavior in the bud, or are the kids in for a “Lord of the Flies” experience?
  •  Keep emergency information easily accessible.  Sure, the camp office has your contact data, but who knows how long it would take to access it?  My kids are old enough to know our home and cell phone numbers, but considering there’s three to keep track of, they have to think pretty hard to recall one even under the best of circumstances.  A temporary tattoo puts my phone numbers right there on the backs of their grubby little hands so if something does happen and they are unable or too panicked to talk, the tattoo will speak for them.  I really like Eyedentity Labels because they’re customized for each order, so food allergies, medical issues and medication instructions can also be addressed.  Having your kids registered with Our Child Safe is a great proactive way to have this kind of vital info instantly accessible from anywhere – and to include as much detail as you need (prescription updates, physician contact numbers, vaccination records, etc).  The secure, online, password-protected site is endorsed by law enforcement and medical personnel. 
  •  Do your homework.  Hopefully this one’s obvious:  Ask around for personal recommendations and then check out a potential camp before you sign up.  Google it.  Call the office and ask a few questions.  I always ask about the bathroom policy (where are they located?  do the kids go on their own, in pairs, or escorted by an adult?) and about child/adult ratios. 

A little preparation goes a long way towards peace of mind…and that’s something all savvy moms can relate to!

 For spring break safety tips for older kids, check my “Links” page.

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