Medication on camp

If your Scout is prescribed medication 

Before leaving for camp:

  • Ensure your child is aware of what medication they take , when they need to take it (and how much), why they need to take it, who can help them manage their medication on camp and 
  • No matter who is managing medication, place all medications in a clearly-labelled Ziploc bag (or plastic box if required) clearly showing:
    • The child’s name
    • The name, dose and frequency of medication
    • An extra copy of your child’s medical form if needed.
    • Discuss the what, when, how much, and why of your Scout’s medication with that leader. Remember that some leaders will have no experience with your child’s medication and may need additional information to provide the best care.

If an adult leader is managing your child’s medication:

  • Give your child’s medications directly to the responsible leader at the start of camp – don’t ask your Scout to pass it on!

If your child is managing their own medication:

  • Ensure their medication is stored somewhere they can easily access it – and won’t forget it! 

Appropriately packaged and labelled medication.

Who should manage a Scout’s medication?

Depending on your child’s age and the leaders involved, medication may be kept by an adult leader who will supervise its administration, and sometimes by Scouts.

For Scouts taking medication for ADHD, it is strongly recommended that an adult assist by keeping medication safe and by ensuring it is taken as prescribed. In an unfamiliar environment with a different routine, it is easy for Scouts to forget to take their medication or lose it in their bag or tent. If you do insist on your child managing their own medication, ensure they understand why they need to take their medication as prescribed, how to take it, and ensure the Scout has practiced managing their own medication at home – if your child can’t consistently take their medication without supervision from a parent, they are not ready to manage it themselves on camp. If your Scout takes multiple medications or is unsure of the dose they need, talk with a pharmacist about pill containers, blister packs and other solutions to help manage medications.

You might want to discuss the possibility of Scouts not taking medication while on camps (this is sometimes called a ‘drug holiday’). This might be done for a variety of reasons. The decision for Scouts not to take their regular medication while on camp needs to be made thoughtfully, and Scouts and families should discuss this with their GP or prescribing psychiatrist, and the child’s leaders. There are both pros and cons to a child having a drug holiday while on camp, and they should be strongly considered.

What the experts say:

Numerous experts including the American Academy of Pediatrics agree that “elective interruption of medications should be avoided by [children] on long-term psychotropic therapy or those on maintenance therapy required for a chronic medical condition.” Psychologist Dr Chris Thurber agrees, saying “The logic is that because ADHD doesn’t take a holiday, neither should the medication… the same logic could be used for other emotional and behavioural disorders.”

Special diets for behaviour etc.

If your child maintains a particular diet to help manage their symptoms, it’s important to discuss this with their leaders. 

Special diets for autistic Scouts

If your Scout has specific dietary requirements – including familiar foods and food placement, it’s important to discuss these with a leader well before camp. If your Scout absolutely won’t eat foods which don’t match their dietary requirements, be clear with leaders that it needs to be taken as seriously as a food allergy or cultural dietary requirement. Explain that your Scout will not eat foods which do not match their requirements. Discussing the menu for the activity together will give you opportunities to identify suitable alternatives.

What you can do:

  • Make sure medication is properly packaged and labelled before your Scout next goes on a camp or outdoor activity.
  • Discuss with leaders any specific dietary requirements your Scout has.

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