Health & Wellness at Camp

The health and safety of AYF campers and staff is our highest priority.

The American Youth Foundation relies on our partnerships with camper families to ensure the well-being of our communities each summer.

Prior to camp, please teach and reinforce good hygiene habits at home, including hand washing, showering, brushing teeth, putting on sunscreen and bug repellent, dressing for the weather, and staying hydrated. Remind your camper to come to the camp Health Center if they do not feel well or get injured. Our Health Team is always available to help!

Please contact AYF Lead Health Officer Carrie Smith at csmith@ayf.com with any questions

Summer 2023 Updates

COVID-19 Vaccination Policy
Participants are not required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend AYF 2023 programs. However, the AYF continues to strongly encourage and recommend that families pursue COVID-19 vaccination for campers. Families must share their participants’ COVID-19 vaccination status during the registration process.

The AYF reserves the right to change to its COVID-19 vaccination requirements as the pandemic evolves or with changes to school and camp licensing requirements regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.

Medication at Camp
All daily medications, including over-the-counter medications, vitamins, supplements, etc., must have a prescription or administration instructions signed by the camper’s health care provider. The Health Team will not accept any medication without these written instructions or a prescription.

Preparing Camper Medication
There are two medication packaging options for campers: multidose packaging prepared by a pharmacy, or the AYF Health Team can package and prepare a camper’s medications for a $200 fee.

Health Form Deadlines
If camp families do not submit health forms by the deadlines, their camper will be moved to the program waitlist until the AYF receives their forms and the camper has cleared the Medical Review process.

 



AYF Health Team FAQ

What is CampBrain?

The AYF uses an online portal called CampBrain to safely and securely register participants for summer camp.

Families create their CampBrain account when they register their participant for a summer program. They log in to CampBrain when they make an online payment, access health forms, or need to upload additional information to complete their participant’s registration.

Families can access the CampBrain portal on the Miniwanca Family Resources page or the Merrowvista Family Resources page.

Is the AYF requiring COVID-19 vaccination for participants in 2023?

Participants are not required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend AYF 2023 programs. However, the AYF continues to strongly encourage and recommend that families pursue COVID-19 vaccination for campers, in accordance with current recommendations from the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Families must share their participants’ COVID-19 vaccination status during the registration process.

If a participant is not up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations and exposed to COVID-19 at camp, that person may be required to leave the AYF program. If this occurs, the parents/guardian is responsible for immediately removing their participant from program until the AYF determines it is safe for them to return. Siblings or other participants who share a household with the camper may be required to leave as well. The AYF will follow CDC COVID-19 isolation and quarantine guidance to advise these decisions.

The AYF reserves the right to change to its COVID-19 vaccination requirements as the pandemic evolves or with changes to school and camp licensing requirements regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. If families choose to unenroll a participant due to changes in our COVID-19 vaccination requirements, the AYF will provide a full refund.

What is the medical review process?

The AYF’s goal is to serve and empower as many participants as possible, and all reasonable efforts are made to accommodate campers with different conditions, strengths, and abilities. Learn more about if an AYF program is right for your camper.

The Health Team completes a medical review of all applications to confirm participants are physically, medically, and psychologically able to safely participate in AYF programs. The AYF is limited in is medical and mental health care capacities and reserves the right to preclude participation based on a condition that we are not able to manage safely.

The summer camp application includes a brief medical history questionnaire. If the Health Team requires more information, they will email families a more in-depth Medical Questionnaire. The Medical Questionnaire must be submitted via CampBrain within two weeks of receipt. The Health Team will review this form and contact families for more information.

When are 2023 health forms due?

All camper health forms must be completed by April 1, 2023 for a participant to be fully enrolled in any AYF summer camp.

January 1, 2023: Health forms will be available online in CampBrain. These include:

  • Acknowledgment of 2023 Health Policies
  • Camper Health History
  • 2023 Camper Physical (to be completed by a doctor after a physical exam in the past 12 months)
  • Immunizations Record
  • COVID-19 Acknowledgement of Risk
  • COVID-19 Screening and Testing Consent

If applicable:

  • Asthma/Allergy Action Plan
  • Permission to Self-Administer Emergency Medications
  • Medical Questionnaire (due two weeks after AYF emails family the form)

April 1, 2023: All above health forms and any other supporting medical paperwork must be uploaded to CampBrain.

4 Weeks Before Session Opening Day

  • Camper Health Update: This form asks families to share any pertinent changes to a camper’s medical history that occurred since submitting their Health History on April 1. Families must submit the Camper Health Update even if there are no changes.

If camp families do not submit health forms by the deadlines, their camper will be moved to the program waitlist until the AYF receives their forms and the camper has cleared the Medical Review process.

Who is the summer health team?

Each site maintains a modern Health Center with a registered nurse and assistant health officers in residence, as well as an advising physician. All AYF staff are trained in CPR and first aid.

The registered nurse assists with medical needs on-site and in the backcountry. Under the guidance of the camp medical advisor (a local physician near each site), the AYF evaluates health problems and injuries at the Health Center. If necessary, they use telehealth, local urgent care, and local hospitals for outside medical care.

If a camper requires treatment from an outside health care provider, families are notified as soon as possible. They are also notified if their camper spends the night in the Health Center.

All outcamping trip leaders are certified in Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder/WEMT. They are well-trained in problems unique to backcountry travel and have a well-developed safety system in place. All off-site trips carry cell or satellite phones.

What if my camper needs to take regular medication while at camp?

Families must list all prescription medication and over-the-counter medications on the Camper Health History form. All daily medications (including over the counter medications, vitamins, supplements, etc.) must have a valid prescription or administration instructions listed on the Camper Physical Form signed by the camper’s health care provider. The Health Team will not accept any daily medication without these written instructions or prescription.

Families must give all medication to the Health Team on Opening Day. The Health Team secures all medication in the Health Center and administers it each day. Outcamp trip medications are kept in med kits and administered by certified Wilderness First Responders or Wilderness First Aiders who have additional medication administration training.

Families should not send common medications like Benadryl, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen with their camper, as AYF Health Centers are well-stocked with these items. We also strongly discourage sending vitamins with campers, as all meals provide plenty of nutritious food.

Campers are not allowed to keep any prescription or over-the-counter medication, even as-needed medication, with their personal belongings while at camp.

How should I package my camper's medication?

There are two medication packaging options for campers while at camp:

1. Multidose packaging prepared by a pharmacy

This means a pharmacist prepackages a camper’s medications by date and time, rather than sending an entire pill bottle or package to camp. For example, the exact doses of all medications a camper takes at breakfast on Aug. 13 are packaged together in one sealed pharmacy pouch.

Families can learn more about multidose packaging and find these services through providers like PillPack, SimpleMeds, and many CVS and Walgreens pharmacies. The pharmacist may ask your insurance company for a vacation override to fill a prescription early or to fill more than a 30-day supply.

It is important to start this process with your pharmacy as soon as possible (no later than two months prior to camp) to ensure your camper arrives with correctly packaged medications.

If a camp family is eligible for financial aid and unable to get medications packaged through a pharmacy, they should contact the Health Team as soon as possible so they can assist.

Multidose Packaging Exemptions:

  • Liquid, cream, oral contraceptive, inhaled, and injectable medications. These medications must arrive in their original valid prescription packaging with your camper’s name on the label.
  • Controlled or schedule II medications (this includes many ADD/ADHD medications).
  • Antibiotics prescribed immediately before camp begins that will be taken for a limited time.

2. Medications packaged and prepared by AYF Health Team – $200 fee

The AYF Health Team can package and prepare a camper’s medications for a $200 fee. Medications must arrive at camp in their original prescription packaging with the camper’s name on the label. The service fee will be applied to the camper’s account.

Please do not self-package your camper’s medications in individual containers or bags – the AYF cannot accept them.

When is medication administered at camp?

Scheduled medications are administered after meals and at bedtime. If your camper requires medications outside of these times, please contact Lead Health Officer Carrie Smith to discuss if the AYF can support your camper.

Campers are not allowed to self-administer any medication (except rescue inhalers or Epi-pens if they have a Permission to Self-Administer Emergency Medication form on file).

What if my camper has an allergy or dietary restrictions?

The AYF Food Program Teams provide nourishing family-style meals to all participants. They offer many options, including vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free alternatives. Outcamping trip meals are carefully planned according to the needs of the group.

Please provide clear and comprehensive information regarding all food, medication, and environmental allergies or restrictions on a camper’s application and health forms.

Emergency epinephrine is available in several locations around Miniwanca and Merrowvista and in each of the outcamping medical kits. Campers with a prescription for EpiPens should bring two to camp – one to stay in the Health Center and one to carry with them. Campers who carry their own EpiPens must complete the Permission to Self-Administer Emergency Medication form.

The AYF works to manage the risk of exposure to peanut products. The AYF does serve some snack products and prepared desserts that may have been manufactured in facilities that also processes nuts. The AYF does not control all sources of contamination, such as those coming into the community through participants, visitors, and outcamping trips.

Campers with dietary restrictions may choose to bring a supply of snacks and desserts. Italian ice, a gluten-free, nut-free dessert, is always available as a dessert substitution. AYF Food Program teams will take extra precautions to prepare and serve foods separately, avoiding cross-contamination, as needed.

For more information about the Food Program and accommodating dietary and allergy needs, please email Lead Health Officer Carrie Smith.

 

What if my camper has asthma?

Please include details the camper’s asthma history and medications on their application and health forms. The Health Center keeps daily maintenance inhalers on site and and administers them daily.

Campers who use a rescue asthma inhaler should bring two to camp – one to keep in the Health Center and one to carry with them. Campers who carry their inhalers at camp must complete the Permission to Self-Administer Emergency Medication form and upload it to CampBrain.

What if my camper has a behavioral or mental health diagnosis?

AYF full-time and seasonal staff are trained in relationship management, decision-making, and conflict resolution. However, AYF camps are not equipped to provide support in mental health counseling or clinical issues. If a camper receives those supports at home or has experienced trauma in the past 12 months (abuse, school shooting, death of someone close to them, etc.), please email the Director of Programs at Miniwanca or Merrowvista to see if we can support them.

Behavioral and Mental Health Medications
Campers should be taking a behavior or mental health medication at least three months before arrival at camp. There can be no changes to the type or dosage beginning six weeks prior to camp.

The only exception is if a camper requires ADD/ADHD medication in an academic setting but does not take the medication during the summer months. However, the additional social and emotional elements of summer camp may not make it the appropriate setting for a medication holiday.

How does the AYF prepare for head lice at camp?

Camp families should take precautionary measures to see that your camper is free of both lice and nits (eggs) prior to their arrival at camp. If treatment is needed, carefully follow your health care provider’s instructions. Make sure all personal items (such as blankets, sleeping bags and clothing) are cleaned thoroughly before coming to camp. The AYF will share more information on what to look for and how to treat lice as Opening Day approaches.

The Health Team will check each camper for head lice on Opening Day. If they find nits or lice, the camper must leave camp until they are lice-free. Campers who arrive via plane or who live more than four hours away from camp will be treated onsite for a $500 fee charged to their account. The camper will stay in the Health Center, and their activities will be limited until they are lice-free.

How does the AYF protect campers against ticks?

Tick-repellent spray is available for use around camp. Families should also send tick repellent with their camper – 20% Picaridin or 20% to 30% DEET are most effective.

When camp starts, the Health Team reviews tick prevention and safety with all campers and staff, including the importance of tick repellant, how and when to do a daily tick check, how to identify a tick, what to do if they find a tick, and follow-up care strategies.

Staff are trained on how to properly identify tick species and how to properly remove a tick. Any tick found embedded in a camper will be placed in a sealed container in case follow-up testing is needed.

If a tick is suspected to be embedded 24 hours or longer, the Health Team will notify the family, consult with the advising camp physician, and monitor the camper for signs of infection or rash.

Immunization/Vaccinations

The AYF requires campers to be immunized in accordance with the state of Michigan (Miniwanca) and the state of New Hampshire (Merrowvista) camp licensing requirements. Proof of vaccination is required before arrival at camp.