Tips for Selecting a Summer Day Camp

 camp

Many of us still have snow on the ground, others are bracing for still another wintery blast, which makes it hard to think about selecting a summer day camp. But, if you have a child that needs to be in an out-of school program during the summer recess, now is the time to do research to find the camp that meets your child’s needs and interests and is within your budget.

The American Camp Association offers the following guides when considering a day camp:

Day camps offer experiences that are unique from resident camps. Because of this, there are specific points to consider when choosing a day camp.

  1. Does the American Camp Association accredit the camp? ACA has specific standards applicable only for day camps.
  2. What training does the staff receive on safety, supervision, counseling, problem solving and other issues unique to working with young children?
  3. Is the price all-inclusive or are there extra charges for: · Transportation · swimming lessons · food service · horseback riding · group pictures · T-shirts · extended care · field trips
  1. If camp transportation is offered, where is the closest pick-up location?
  2. Does the camp have an “express bus” which transports children quickly?
  3. If before- and after-camp extended care is offered, who is with the children and what activities take place?
  4. Is lunch served or do campers bring their own sack lunch? Are snacks and drinks provided?
  5. If the camp offers swimming, are there swimming lessons or is it simply recreational swimming?
  6. Are campers in a group with a counselor all day? Or, are campers free to go from one activity to another with appropriate supervision? In this case, whom would you talk to if you had a question or concern about your child?
  7. Is an open house offered before camp starts where you can meet your child’s counselor and van/bus driver?
  8. Are parents allowed to drop by for visits or is there a special parent visitation day?

 

Most frequently asked camp questions by children who will be attending day camp and how you might want to answer them:

What will I do all day? You’ll get to do so much — things like swimming, tennis, basketball, arts and crafts, softball or baseball, cooking, ceramics, gymnastics, soccer, dancing, football… the list goes on and on. There are also special events and entertainment.

Who will help me have fun at camp? How do they know how to care for me?
Counselors are selected because they love working with kids. They are trained before camp begins to help you have a good time, make new friends, and enjoy a variety of activities. Their job is to help you have fun, be safe, and know your limits.

Do I get to choose what I want to do?
Some camps schedule the entire day so you have an opportunity to try all the different things at camp. At many camps, you’ll get to select one or even more activities every day. You can ask about how the day is planned for you.

Who will be my friends?
You will make a lot of new friends at camp. Camp counselors will help you make friends the very first day you arrive at camp. It’s nice to have winter friends and summer friends.

What’s so great about camp?
Camp is a special place where grownups help kids feel good about themselves. You get to make choices on your own, but you always feel safe. Camp is like a little community, where everyone’s opinion is heard, and kids work and play together. There’s just no other place like camp, because camp is built just for kids!

Why shouldn’t I just stay home and do what I want?
You might think it will be more fun to just stay home and do nothing, but believe us, camp is nonstop fun! There are such a variety of activities that you never get bored. And you always have friends; everyone’s always home at camp!

What would a day at camp be like?
Camp is filled with different kinds of activities. The fun begins as soon as the bus picks you up. You will spend the day doing activities you really like. Of course you’ll stop for lunch – maybe a barbecue or a picnic. Day campers will go home on their buses in the late afternoon, and look forward to returning to camp the next day.

What if I’m not good at sports?
Camp staff will encourage you, and you will succeed at your level. You are never measured at anyone else’s ability level. Camp is not all sports, but a combination of athletics, the arts and hobbies.

What if I have a problem?
There are lots of people at camp, besides your counselors, to help take care of you, depending on what you need. There is usually a nurse, so if you don’t feel well they have a place where you can rest until you feel better. You can count on the grownups that are at camp to help you with any problem you may have.

Once you have answered these questions, visit ACA’s Camp Database to find a camp just right for your child. Parents may call ACA National Headquarters 800-428-CAMP8camp800-428-CAMP  for further information about a specific camp or for the ACA section in their region, visit the American Camp Association website…http://www.acacamps.org/.

 

 

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Practicing Poison Prevention in Your Home

The following is a prevention message from Safe Kids USA.

poison prevention

carbon monoxide detector

You can best protect your children by keeping harmful substances out of their sight and reach, and by testing for lead and carbon monoxide. Although household cleaners are a frequent cause of poisoning, kids can also be fatally poisoned by iron, alcohol and carbon monoxide. Prevention is key to safety.

Because no prevention method is 100 percent effective, learn how to keep poison exposure from turning into tragedy for you and your family.

Prevention in the kitchen:

  • Keep cleaning products in their original containers. Never put a potentially poisonous product in something other than its original container (like a plastic soda bottle), where it could be mistaken for something harmless.
  • Know which household products are poisonous.
  • Lock up poisons out of children’s sight and reach.

Prevention in the bathroom:

  • Always read labels and follow the exact directions. Give children medicines based on their weights and ages, and only use the dispensers that come packaged with children’s medications.
  • Never refer to medicine or vitamins as “candy.”
  • Do not have children help you take medication.

Prevention around the house:

  • Be aware of medications that may be in your handbag. Store handbags out of the reach of young children.
  • Install carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in your home.
  • Prevent CO buildup in the first place — make sure heating appliances are in good working order and used only in well-ventilated areas.
  • Don’t run a car engine in the garage, even to warm it up; move the car outside first.

More Prevention tips from Safe Kids USA can be found at  www.safekids.org

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When it Comes to Decorations…Be Fire Conscious

The US Fire Safety Administration shares the following information to keep you safe this holiday season.

Decorating homes and businesses is a long-standing tradition around the holiday season. Unfortunately, these same decorations may increase your chances of fire. Based on data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), an estimated 240 home fires involving Christmas trees and another 150 home fires involving holiday lights and other decorative lighting occur each year. Together, these fires result in 21 deaths and $25.2 million in direct property damage.

Following a few simple fire safety tips can keep electric lights, candles, and the ever popular Christmas tree from creating a tragedy.

Learn how to prevent a fire and what to do in case a fire starts in your home. Make sure all exits are accessible and not blocked by decorations or trees.

Christmas Trees

fire safetyWhat’s a traditional Christmas morning scene without a beautifully decorated tree? If your household includes a natural tree in its festivities, take to heart the sales person’s suggestion – “Keep the tree watered.”

Christmas trees account for hundreds of fires annually. Typically, shorts in electrical lights or open flames from candles, lighters or matches start tree fires. Well-watered trees are not a problem. A dry and neglected tree can be.

Selecting a Tree for the Holidays

Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needles should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long and, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard.

Caring for Your Tree

Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.

Disposing of Your Tree

Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood-burning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a community pick-up service.

Maintain Your Holiday Lights

Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.

Do Not Overload Electrical Outlets

Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires – they should not be warm to the touch. Do not leave holiday lights on unattended!

Use Only Nonflammable Decorations

All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents. If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.

Don’t Block Exits

Ensure that trees and other holiday decorations do not block an exit way. In the event of a fire, time is of the essence. A blocked entry/exit way puts you and your family at risk.

Never Put Wrapping Paper in the Fireplace

Wrapping paper in the fireplace can result in a very large fire, throwing off dangerous sparks and embers that may result in a chimney fire.

Avoid Using Lit Candles

Consider using battery-operated flameless candles, which can look, smell and feel like real candles.

If You Do Use Lit Candles

Make sure candles are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything that can burn. Never leave a room or go to bed with candles burning.

Never Put Lit Candles on a Tree

Do not go near a Christmas tree with an open flame – candles, lighters or matches.

Have a fire-free holiday season!

 

 

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FDA Defines “Gluten-free” for Food Labeling

gluten-free-foodsMost supermarkets now carry a line of products labelled “gluten-free.” Many of us are choosing to buy and eat these new cookies, breads and other products we believe to be made without  flour. For most of us, it is a choice to avoid white flour, which we may consider not healthy for us.

For the three million Americans who have Celiac disease, a gluten free diet is there only choice  in managing their autoimmune digestive condition.

The FDA recently issued a new rule that provides standard definition to protect the health of Americans with Celiac disease. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration published a new regulation defining the term “gluten-free” for voluntary food labeling.

The press release issued by the FDA reads,“Adherence to a gluten-free diet is the key to treating Celiac disease, which can be very disruptive to everyday life,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “The FDA’s new ‘gluten-free’ definition will help people with this condition make food choices with confidence and allow them to better manage their health. This new federal definition standardizes the meaning of “gluten-free” claims across the food industry. It requires that, in order to use the term “gluten-free” on its label, a food must meet all of the requirements of the definition, including that the food must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. The rule also requires foods with the claims “no gluten,” “free of gluten,” and “without gluten” to meet the definition for “gluten-free.”

The FDA recognizes that many foods currently labeled as “gluten-free” may be able to meet the new federal definition already. Food manufacturers will have a year after the rule is published to bring their labels into compliance with the new requirements.

“We encourage the food industry to come into compliance with the new definition as soon as possible and help us make it as easy as possible for people with Celiac disease to identify foods that meet the federal definition of ‘gluten-free,” said Michael R. Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine.

“The term “gluten” refers to proteins that occur naturally in wheat, rye, barley and cross-bred hybrids of these grains.  In people with Celiac disease, foods that contain gluten trigger production of antibodies that attack and damage the lining of the small intestine. Such damage limits the ability of Celiac disease patients to absorb nutrients and puts them at risk of other very serious health problems, including nutritional deficiencies, osteoporosis, growth retardation, infertility, miscarriages, short stature, and intestinal cancers.”

The FDA was directed to issue the new regulation by the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA), which directed FDA to set guidelines for the use of the term “gluten-free” to help people with Celiac disease maintain a gluten-free diet.

The regulation was published in the Federal Register.

For more information:

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SanitizingToys and Things Kids Touch

sanitizingIn a fact sheet put out by the Partnership for Food Safety Education, www.fightbac.org, they talk about sanitizing surfaces that children frequently touch such as tables, chairs, high chairs and toys.

The Partnership message states that dangerous germs such as, hepatitis and rotavirus  can live on surfaces for several weeks. If someone touches these surfaces, germs can get on the person’s hands and then be transferred into the mouth, to other people, or to food. That’s why it’s so important to clean and sanitize frequently-touched surfaces.

Cleaning and sanitizing aren’t the same. Cleaning, removing dirt and debris, comes before sanitizing. A sanitizing solution is then used to kill germs. Here’s a “recipe” for a safe and effective sanitizing solution: combine 1 tablespoon liquid chlorine bleach with 1 gallon of water in a clean bucket.

According to the Partnership for Food Safety Education the best way of cleaning and santizing is as follows:

  • Clean surfaces and  high chair trays, sinks, kitchen counters, and large plastic or rubber toys, cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with hot water and soap and thoroughly rinse.
  • Apply the sanitizing solution and allow to air dry.

  • Wash high chair trays with hot water and soap after every use and dry thoroughly with a single use paper towel.
  • Cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and small plastic  toys can also be run through a dishwasher at 170 °F to disinfect them.

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