Can you believe it’s July already? For some of us, that means it’s the middle of summer! Camping is a popular activity during this time of the year. Whether your family visits a campground every year or you go to sleep away camps, there are a few things you need to remember when camping with epilepsy.
Tips for camping with epilepsy:
- Don’t forget your medication: I know this may seem like an obvious item to put on your packing sheet, but sometimes our medication makes us forgetful! Make sure your medication is the first thing you pack. If it helps, use a pill box with the days of the week on it so you have enough to last you the whole week. I always pack them in my purse because I take my purse with me everywhere, so there is no danger of me forgetting it! It also helps me remember where I packed it when I need to take them later!
- Make a packing list: A few days before you’re set to leave, write up a list of everything you need to pack. In the days leading up to your departure, you can add things to the list that you forgot the first time. When you begin to pack, you’ll know exactly what you need and can cross off items on the list as you go. I do this every time I travel and really cuts down on the number of things I forget.
- Find out if there is a camp nurse: If you are going to a sleep away camp, chances are there will be a camp nurse on hand. When you arrive, ask to meet the camp nurse so he/she knows who you are and you know who will help make this trip seizure-free. Explain that you have epilepsy and, if you have triggers that may show up at camp (extreme heat, for example), make sure the nurse knows these triggers. It will be easier for this person to care for you if he/she knows what type of care is needed. If you’re not going to a camp with a nurse, make sure someone on the grounds knows your diagnosis, how to help if you do have a seizure, and who to call in case of emergency.
- Camp Counselors: Some camps, like those put on by the Epilepsy Foundation, provide counselors for summer camps. Depending who runs the camp, these counselors may have some ideas about responding to a seizure. At Camp Frog, and others from the Epilepsy Foundation, counselors are trained in seizure first aid. If your counselor isn’t trained, consider teaching them. It won’t take long and then your counselor will be ready to help any time it is needed. A camp nurse should also know seizure first aid, but the more people who can help, the better.
- Know yourself: You are your own expert. You know what activities you can and cannot do, how your body feels, and if you need a break. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you need to rest! Going to camp can be so much fun, just remember to put your health first.
Let’s help one another
Have you been to camp yet this summer? If you have, what was your secret to having a great week while camping with epilepsy? If you haven’t been, do you have questions about camping with epilepsy? Leave a note in the comments below so we can help each other have a wonderful summer that is full of fun!
Leila shares stories on stigma and epilepsy based on her experiences and what she hears from others. She was diagnosed with Epilepsy at age 8 and is based in Pennsylvania.