Sun safety considerations for campers

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New York—Sports and outdoor activities are daily events for children attending camp. If children are not properly protected, the time they spend outdoors lead to painful sunburns, premature aging and skin cancer.

“Just one blistering sunburn in childhood can double the risk of getting melanoma later in life,” said Perry Robins, MD, President of The Skin Cancer Foundation. “That risk can be avoided by following some simple sun safety guidelines.”

To find out if a camp is sun safe, the Foundation recommends asking the following five questions:

Are counselors trained in sun safety? UV protection should be a regular part of the training counselors receive. They should be well versed about the dangers of the sun and how to protect against them.

When are outdoor activities scheduled? Ideally, most should be scheduled for early morning or late afternoon since UV is most intense from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Does the camp have adequate shade structures? While large shade trees provide some protection, a truly sun-safe camp should have structures such as pavilions where campers can seek shade during outdoor activities.

Are campers directed to apply sunscreen before going outside? An SPF 15+ sunscreen (water-resistant formulas are especially good) needs to be used regularly. Campers and staff should be instructed to bring it from home, apply it 30 minutes before outdoor activities, and reapply every two hours and right after swimming or sweating. The camp should also have a supply.

Are campers urged to wear protective clothing? Historically, campers wore only a T-shirt, shorts, and perhaps a baseball cap. We now know that’s not enough. Children should wear sun-protective clothing including long pants (or at least shorts), long-sleeved shirts, UV-protective sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat to protect their face, neck and ears.

With proper guidance, children can learn to protect themselves and enjoy summer fun without sacrificing the health of their skin. For additional information, visit or call 1-800-SKIN-490.

The first organization in the U.S. that committed itself to educating the public and medical professionals about sun safety, The Skin Cancer Foundation is still the only global organization solely devoted to the prevention, detection and treatment of skin cancer. The mission of the Foundation is to decrease the incidence of skin cancer through public and professional education and research.

from the July 25-31, 2007, issue

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