It’s getting hot outside and that means summer camps are heating up! Being a camp counselor is a fun summer job and it’s a great way to learn leadership skills. As a camp counselor, it is your job to take care of the children that are under your supervision, but your own health and well-being is as important as the campers. If you’re not healthy, you won’t be able to properly care for the campers.
Here are 7 keys to staying healthy throughout your summer at camp.
- DRINK PLENTY OF WATER
When working outside in the summertime, it is essential for you and your campers to stay hydrated and avoid developing heat-related illnesses. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/data-statistics/plain-water-the-healthier-choice.htmlrecommends between 6 to 8 glasses of water daily for good hydration. However, the amount of water that your body needs should be based on your individual need. Some of the symptoms of dehydration are: Mouth Dryness, Fatigue, Headache, Lightheadedness, Dizziness and Thirst. If you or a child in camp shows signs of any or all of these symptoms, immediately seek medical attention
- GET SOME SLEEP
Everyone feels a lot better after a good night’s sleep. One of the most critical threats to wellness for camp staff members is sleep deprivation. It’s easy to burn the candle at both ends when you’re working at a summer camp. Try to stick to your normal bedtime whenever possible. Routine is important for a good night’s sleep!
- EAT HEALTHY
During the hectic pace of summer camp, it is easy to forget to eat properly. What you eat can determine how well your body is fueled and how efficiently it functions. The MyPlate https://www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlate guidelines call for making half your plate fruits and vegetables as part of a balanced meal. Eating a balanced diet is important for good health and increased energy, especially when working with campers.
- HANDWASHING & FOOD SAFETY
Bacteria and germs are hiding anywhere: in your kitchen, on your plate and even on your hands! It is important to wash your hands and hard surfaces often. Make sure to wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling food. Foodborne bacteria can’t be seen, smelled or tasted, but they can make you sick! Therefore it is important to practice good food safety and food preparation practices. When in Doubt, Throw it out!
- SUN SAFETY
While enjoying the sun and outdoors, protect yourself from overexposure to sunlight by wearing a hat and using sunscreens. Severe sun burns (also known as sun poisoning) can also lead to extreme dehydration for you and your campers.
Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen (UVA/UVB), and re-applying every 2 hours or after swimming will help prevent a sunburn. As a camp counselor, you should remind kids to play in shaded areas to reduce their exposure to UV rays, especially between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM, when the sun UV rays are at their peak.
- BUGS AND TICK BITE PREVENTION:
In Florida, bugs and summer go together, to avoid getting bug bites, you should apply insect repellant that contains DEET to exposed skin, and wear long sleeves, pants, and other light-colored clothing. Campers should also try to avoid areas that ticks can be found, such as high grass and wooded areas. Campers should check for ticks every day, and remove them right away. Tick bites can lead to Lyme disease, which is particularly dangerous in the summer.
- STRESS MANAGEMENT
When we feel overloaded, we can feel stressed. Stress is a common problem among camp counselors. Managing your stress level is just as important as maintaining your physical health. Even though stress can be uncomfortable, it’s not always a bad thing, some stress can be a good thing and can help us better handle difficult situations.
As a camp counselor it is vital that you learn to relax, eat right, stay hydrated, and make sleep a priority, wash your hands, protect yourself from the sun and take care of yourself!
Extension is a great resource for tips to stay healthy during the summer. You can find fact sheets and more information in our Electronic Data Information Source (EDIS) publications: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/
For more information, contact Laurie Osgood, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, UF/IFAS Extension, Gadsden County. mailto:Osgoodlb@ufl.edu