Kids Health Watch is brought to you by our friends and Magnolia Springs Pediatrics
Spring is finally here, and the weather is warming up. So… what is a fun activity you and your family can do in Baldwin County? Well, camping, of course! Let’s review some great places to camp in our area, some safety tips regarding getting lost, protecting you and your kids from the great outdoors, and some must-haves for the big trip!
One of my boys’ first memories from Scouts was camping at the USS Alabama Battleship. I remember visiting as a kid and having a homecoming dance there, but I really couldn’t remember how cool it was. So, we all went and camped out on the Battleship lawn with other Scouts and had a blast. Once, we got to sleep on the Battleship in the same bunks the sailors slept on when the ship was an active warship! Of course, everyone knows the Battleship is there when you drive over the bay, but we often forget what a wonderful and important monument it is to our parents, grandparents, and country!
In Baldwin County, we also have lots of great places to camp. Many of us have stayed at the new campgrounds in the Gulf State Park, including my family and some raccoons! Since the hurricanes damaged the grounds a few years ago, they have spent a lot of money rebuilding the area, and it looks great! We also have Blakeley State Park in Spanish Fort, with great camping and history. And, of course, if you want, you can simply go camping in your backyard!
Of course, as with anything in pediatrics and Scouts, you have to be prepared! So before you go camping, be sure you do the following things. First, tell at least two people where you are going to camp and when you should be back. Second, look at the weather! Be prepared for changes in temperature and storms. Third, review a book or pictures online of poisonous plants and snakes in the area. Everyone jokes about getting poison ivy or oak, but it’s no laughing matter if you get it in the wrong place!
So, what do you need to bring? First, of course, you need a first aid kit. Familiarize yourself with the contents and add the following if not already there-Benadryl, hydrocortisone 1% cream, sunscreen, bug spray, and a pain reliever like ibuprofen. You will need to pack clothes for layering in case it gets too hot or cold, a good map, lots of water and food, waterproof matches and tents, several flashlights, and LOTS of batteries! You will be surprised how quickly they run out. Also, having a whistle is a good idea- if you or a child gets lost, a whistle will carry a lot further than the human voice!
So, here are a few quick safety tips. First, teach your child that if they get lost, stay put! Stay on the trail and try to find the group. The group is much more likely to find you if you are near the last place you were seen. Also, if lost, blow the whistle! Next, be sure to apply lots of sunscreen and bug spray. At the end of each day, examine every person in the group for ticks, especially in hard-to-see areas like the hair. Be careful when crossing any water. The rocks can be very slippery, and the logs can be dangerous! And please, don’t drink the water. Assume that you cannot eat any plant or berry. Finally, use special care around campfires to prevent burns or other injuries.
Camping is an excellent family activity that builds character and family bonding. Enjoy our wonderful state parks and outdoor areas, and have fun!