Health & Wellness at Camp
The health and safety of AYF participants and staff is our highest priority.
The American Youth Foundation relies on our partnerships with participant 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 participant 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 [email protected] with any questions
Summer 2024 Updates
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.
For non-prescription medications, supplements, vitamins, etc., these instructions may be included on the Camper Physical Form or on separate letterhead from the participant’s provider.
Preparing Camper Medication*
There are two medication packaging options for campers:
- Multidose packaging (also called blister packaging) prepared by a pharmacy, or
- The AYF Health Team can package and prepare a camper’s medications for a $200 fee.
*Families must select one of these options. For more details, please see the Medication Packaging tab below. Per licensing standards, the health team will not accept medications packaged in separate doses by the parent/guardian.
Health Form Deadlines
If participant families do not submit health forms by the April 1, the participant will be moved to the program waitlist until the AYF receives their forms and they have cleared the Medical Review process.
*NLC and Dare to Adventure participants, please reference NLC- and Dare to Adventure-specific medication information below in the FAQ.
AYF Health & Wellness Policies
The AYF uses an online portal called CampBrain to safely and securely register participants for summer camp and NLC.
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.
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.
Please provide as much detail as possible about your camper’s health history. If a camper is required to leave our program due to a pre-existing health condition which is not disclosed on their forms, you may waive your right to a medical refund.
The following camper health forms must be completed on CampBrain by April 1, 2024 for a participant to be fully enrolled in any AYF summer camp.
- Acknowledgment of 2024 Health Policies
- Camper Health History
- 2024 Camper Physical (to be completed by a doctor after a physical exam in the past 12 months)
- Immunizations Record
- Asthma/Allergy Action Plan
- Permission to Self-Administer Emergency Medications
- Medical Questionnaire (due two weeks after AYF emails family the form)
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.
The following participant health forms must be completed on CampBrain by April 1, 2024 for a participant to be fully enrolled in NLC.
- Acknowledgement of 2023 Health Policies
- Health History Form
- Immunization Record
- Asthma/Allergy Action Plan
- Permission to Self-Administer Emergency Medication
- Other medical paperwork as requested
If participants do not submit health forms by April 1, they will be moved to the program waitlist until the AYF receives their forms and they have cleared the Medical Review process. If participants are unable to submit health forms by the deadlines, please contact NLC at [email protected] prior to April 1.
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 Health Team 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.
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.
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 or fiber supplements 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.
There are two medication packaging options for campers while at camp:
1. Multidose packaging (also called blister 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 and many CVS and Walgreens pharmacies. We encourage families to ask their pharmacist about Dispill and other services like this. 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.
NLC participants should bring prescription medications in their original prescription bottles with original prescription labels, including participant name, date of birth, and medication dosage and administration instructions. The Health Team will not administer any prescription medications without this information.
Participants are not allowed to keep any prescription or over-the-counter medication, even as-needed medication, with their personal belongings while at NLC.
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 (Exceptions include Epi Pens, inhalers, acne creams, oral contraceptives, nasal sprays, and some migraine medications with a Parental Permission Form on file. Please contact the AYF Health Team regarding specific medications)
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 participant’s application and health forms.
Emergency epinephrine is available in several locations around Miniwanca and Merrowvista and in each of the outcamping medical kits. Participants with a prescription for EpiPens should bring two to camp – one to stay in the Health Center and one to carry with them. Participants 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.
Participants 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.
Please include details the participant’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.
Participants who use a rescue asthma inhaler should bring two to camp – one to keep in the Health Center and one to carry with them. Participants who carry their inhalers at camp must complete the Permission to Self-Administer Emergency Medication form and upload it to CampBrain.
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. Learn more about if the AYF is a match for your camper.
Behavioral and Mental Health Medications
Participants 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 participant 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.
Please provide complete and accurate information about your camper’s health history. If a camper is required to leave our program due to a pre-existing health condition which is not disclosed on their forms, you may waive your right to a medical refund.
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.
Tick-repellent spray is available for use around camp. Families should also send tick repellent with their participants – 20% Picaridin or 20% to 30% DEET are most effective.
When program starts, the Health Team reviews tick prevention and safety with all participants and staff, including the importance of tick repellent, 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. If a tick is suspected to be embedded 24 hours or longer, the Health Team will notify the family, monitor the camper for signs of infection or rash, and consult with the advising camp physician, as necessary.
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.
The AYF requires participants 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 to complete registration in AYF programs.