Friday, July 31, 2009

Summer Camp Teaches Healthy Habits To Help Ward Off Fall Flu

For years, parents have reported that when their children return home from camp they are more caring, understand the importance of giving, are more equipped to stand up for what they know is right, and are willing to be more responsible. This summer, millions of parents will see another positive difference that camp has made in the lives of their children – understood and practiced precautionary health and wellness habits.

Some of the most important lessons taught by camp professionals happen in simple, teachable moments. This summer, the moments may not be as simple, but they are definitely of critical importance.

Throughout the summer, counselors and staff have been working with campers to take precautionary measures to ward off influenza-like illnesses. Best practices are discussed, implemented, and encouraged on a regular basis. Campers will come away with an awareness of positive habits – which will serve them well this fall when they return to school and the traditional "flu season" arrives.

What are some of the healthy habits campers are learning and observing this summer?
  • You can never have enough soap – Campers are practicing advanced and proper hand washing at camp this summer. They are learning to wash their hands in between activities, and not just before they eat. They are learning important lessons in personal sanitation. The camp experience is providing lots of practice and developing a habit of healthy hand washing.

  • You can't lick your elbow, but you can sneeze in it – Camp is teaching millions of children how to practice "safe sneezing." By learning to sneeze into their sleeves, they are learning to keep germs away from their hands and out of the air. Many influenza-like illnesses are spread by contact with infected droplets. Keeping a sneeze to oneself teaches campers to avoid sharing unwanted germs with cabin-mates, classmates, and families.

  • Looking for germs in all the right places – Campers are learning to think outside of the box when it comes to sanitizing and staying as germ free as possible. Some of the creative lessons learned at camp include using personal salad tongs and serving utensils and using alcohol wipes to sanitize high-contact activity areas. By identifying these "touch zones," campers are learning valuable lessons in how influenza-like illnesses spread and how they can be avoided.

  • Everyone else is doing it, why can't I – Campers aren't the only ones getting an education in precautionary practices – their parents are, too. When families see the difference these health and wellness habits make, they begin to implement them as well.

Parents know that kids gather – it is developmental. It is better that they do so in a prepared, precautionary environment. By learning these healthy behaviors and taking them home at the end of the summer, campers are creating healthier friends and families. Healthier families create a healthier community. And healthier communities mean that everyone is in a much healthier place.

About ACA
The American Camp Association® (ACA) works to preserve, promote, and enhance the camp experience for children and adults. ACA-Accredited® camp programs ensure that children are provided with a diversity of educational and developmentally challenging learning opportunities. There are over 2,400 ACA-accredited camps that meet up to 300 health and safety standards. For more information, visit

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