By Anita Stein-Meyers, Pediatric Audiologist
Summer is here and children everywhere are heading off to camp for the time of their lives. Children who receive services at the Center for Hearing and Communication love summer camp. While hearing loss can present certain challenges, being away at camp is typically an all-time favorite experience. The key is to take steps to make sure your child’s needs are fully addressed.
- Inform the staff of your child’s hearing issues, the device(s) he or she uses, and the communication challenges that will likely be encountered. Include strategies that the staff can use to help your child hear and communicate better (just as you would provide to a new teacher in advance of the school year). Be sure this information is shared with any bus drivers. Here are two informative factsheets to hand out to counselors and other camp staff – one for day campers and one for sleepaway campers.
- Identify an adult such as the camp’s nurse who will serve as your child’s caregiver. Have that person (a) be responsible for making sure your child’s hearing aids or cochlear implant are being used, (b) learn how to handle, operate, and care for them, (c) manage the battery supply, and (d) be in contact with a hearing health care specialist in the area should a problem arise.
- Take care of any hearing services your child might need well in advance of the start of camp. Make sure all devices are in good working order.
- Pack all the accessories your child will need to keep their devices clean, dry, and functioning properly: Dri-Aid Kit, Dry & Store, Ear Gear, Otter Box, and spare batteries. Make sure your child knows how and when to use each accessory.
- If your child uses an FM outside of school, be sure to teach the nurse and staff how to use it and perform basic troubleshooting.
- Identify a staff member who will be responsible for alerting your child to any emergencies that might arise during the night and making sure that he/she wakes up on time each morning. Find out if you should pack a vibrating alarm clock.
- Instruct staff involved in water activities to (a) provide kids with direction before they get in the water, (b) take a proactive role in making sure devices are removed before your child gets wet, and (c) use an easel, if possible, to write out instructions.
- Encourage your child to discuss his or her hearing loss. It’s important to let the other kids know what steps they can take to make sure your child is always a part of the conversation. Camp is a great place for developing self-advocacy skills.
- A few months from now when you are making plans for summer 2020, consider selecting a camp that has experience in accommodating the needs of children with hearing loss (or at least demonstrates a sincere interest in learning about your child and taking the appropriate steps).
Have we missed anything? Click here to email us your summer camp tips.
Thank you to all the clinicians at the Center for Hearing and Communication who contributed to this checklist.
Happy summer, everybody!