Health & Safety at Camp: From the Health Center Team

1. Who is in the Chewonki Health Center?

On Chewonki Neck, there is a team of registered nurses who staff the Health Center. A registered nurse is on site every day and available to assist with medical needs 24/7 to support programs on site and all programs in the field.

Our trip leaders are certified in Wilderness  First Aid or as a Wilderness First Responder. They are well trained in problems unique to backcountry travel and have a well-developed safety system in place. All off-site trips have 24-hour satellite or cell phone access to a nurse in the Health Center.

Our Health Center staff completes an annual orientation that includes a review of standing medical orders from Chewonki’s supervising physician at Lincoln Medical Partners in Damariscotta, Maine. 

2. What forms do I need to fill out for the Health Center in order to ensure that my child can attend camp or go on a leadership expedition?

For your convenience, all of our health forms are online at CampInTouch. Please be sure to fill out all seven screens of the health history section, fill out your health insurance information, and then print out the Physician’s Form for your doctor to sign, based on your child’s most recent physical. You or your child’s physician may either scan and upload or fax the form to the Health Center at Chewonki. Your child needs to have had a physical WITHIN A YEAR OF THE START OF CAMP in order to participate. These forms are due no later than APRIL 1.

Even if your child participated in a Chewonki program last summer you do need to update the online Health History, which is required each year. If you completed an online Health History last summer, you will only need to update any changes within the past year and sign your name on the final page.

Please note the other forms that we have provided (e.g., Self Administered Emergency Medication, Psychotropic Medication Policy, and Insurance Waiver), which may pertain to your child’s health. These forms are part of our effort to give your child the best, fullest care we can while they are participating in our programs. The forms are not mandatory if the conditions do not apply to your child. The Health Center staff will share pertinent information from your child’s health forms with your child’s counselors and/or trip leaders on a need-to-know basis to ensure your child’s safety.

3. How does my child stay healthy at Chewonki?

Prevention is our goal! Nurses meet with and assess all participants upon arrival at Chewonki. We focus on each child’s individual health and well-being. Any medications, allergies and/or health conditions are noted and discussed. We educate all participants and staff members on the essentials of personal hygiene, hydration, sun protection, foot care, and overall body TLC. Also refer to questions 10 and 11 for restrictions.

4. What if my child has an allergy?

The Health Center asks that all participants who have food, medication, and/or an environmental allergy make us aware of these conditions as soon as possible. Please be clear with us about the details of your child’s allergy, so that we may make the appropriate preparations with you. Our goal as always is safety. Every summer our staff receives special training in the area of allergies and anaphylaxis. We have epinephrine on campus and in all of our first aid kits. Should your child carry their own epinephrine, please be sure to fill out our Self Administered Emergency Medication form (to be signed by both parent and physician) that is required by state law. See all of our forms posted on CampInTouch. You can review our complete nut allergy policy here.

Note: We have removed all peanut butter from our dining halls and leadership expeditions. We made this choice in an effort to provide an inclusive environment and to further protect those with peanut allergies. 

5. What if my child has asthma?

Our approach to asthma is similar to allergies. We look to prevent any asthma exacerbations while your child is with us. We encourage all children who use an asthma inhaler to bring two with them while at camp…one for the child to carry and one to be held at the Health Center. Please also see our Self Administered Emergency Medication form (to be signed by both parent and physician) on CampInTouch should you wish for your child to carry their asthma inhaler while at camp.

6. How does Chewonki accommodate food preferences or restrictions?

We know that our food is fuel! Chewonki provides a variety of nourishing foods to all participants. When appropriate, our meals provide a vegetarian, gluten-free or dairy free alternative and alternatives such sunbutter instead of peanut butter. Even on a leadership expedition, meals are carefully planned according to the needs of the group and we are continually refining the art of outdoor cooking.

7. How are medications given both on campus and out in the field?

At Chewonki a medication is any substance that is used to maintain or improve health, which includes, vitamins, OTC medications, eye drops, homeopathic remedies, etc. Every medication that a child takes while under our care is handled very seriously for the safety of the child. It is our policy to follow the instructions on the medication bottle(s) provided to us. The label on the bottle is treated as a physician prescription. Therefore, if you wish for your child to take a medication on an as needed basis the bottle must state this clearly. 

Please remember all medications must be in English, have a pharmacy label, have camper’s name, name of the medication, dosage and route, as well as, time and frequency of dose.

The Health Center staff has the right to refuse any medication that is deemed ambiguous and/or unsafe to give a child while at Chewonki.

Medication distribution times are before meals or before bedtime. If your child needs an exception to this system please let us know in advance. On Chewonki Neck all medications/supplements/vitamins are kept in the Health Center and administered by the nurse. On leadership expeditions medications are kept in first aid kits and administered by staff who are certified Wilderness First Responders. The exception to this is for families that choose to have their child carry their own Epi-pen or inhaler. These specific medications require a special permission form signed by a provider, to be submitted before their session begins. (This form is available on your CampInTouch account page in the Forms and Documents section.) Health forms MUST be complete before participants can take part in any Chewonki program. Please be in touch with the Health Center staff if you have any questions.

8. What if my child becomes ill or injured while on a Chewonki program?

We have standing orders signed by our local physicians to administer first aid and non-prescription medications. In addition to nearby Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick, Maine we have a supervising physician at Lincoln Medical Partners in Damariscotta, Maine. 

We will inform you of any necessary physician visits, overnights in the Health Center, or removal of your child from the field. Chewonki expects campers and leadership expedition participants to have their own health insurance coverage in case of injury or illness that may occur while taking part in our programs. Please be sure to provide us with complete insurance information (front and back copies of your insurance card) as requested in CampInTouch.

9. What about immunizations?

We advocate complete immunization coverage for all persons as recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. We need a written statement signed by a healthcare provider specifying all vaccinations and the dates of administration your child has received. Please complete and sign the immunization form, or attach additional documentation. This documentation will prevent your child from receiving any unnecessary vaccinations in the event of exposure at camp. 

Tetanus boosters: Must be given within ten years of the program’s completion date. For those participating in the George River Expedition, we require a booster within five years of the trip.

Tuberculosis Test: Must be given annually for those who have been determined as high risk, or after known exposure. Please discuss this with your child’s healthcare provider.

Varicella (chickenpox): If your child has not had chickenpox, please talk with your care provider about vaccination. State regulations prohibit persons from attending camp for 21 days after the onset of this disease.

Meningococcus: Although the risk of contracting bacterial meningitis at summer camp is extremely low we want you to know that there is a vaccine available to prevent one form of this potentially fatal illness. Participants live in close quarters and this may put them at higher risk. Talk to your child’s healthcare provider.

10. What about Head Lice?

As we have stated above, preventative health is our goal at Chewonki. Please check your child’s hair for nits and lice in the weeks prior to coming to Chewonki. If treatment is needed, carefully follow your pediatrician’s instructions. Make sure all personal items (such as blankets, sleeping bags and clothing) are cleaned thoroughly before coming to Chewonki.

Unfortunately, because of the remote nature and the challenges of effective treatment in the field, leadership expedition participants who arrive at Chewonki, and are determined by the nursing staff to have nits, will NOT be allowed to continue with their programs.

11. What about Communicable Disease?

Please call us if your child has been exposed to or is infected with a contagious disease prior to camp. Sore throats should be cultured to rule out strep infection. Any child with a fever greater than 100° F or sick enough to be in bed should delay participation until improved. Your child should be fever free for 24 hours before their arrival to Chewonki. We expect your child will arrive at Chewonki healthy and ready to fully participate.

12. What about Tick Safety?

Our Prevention Efforts:
All of our counselors and camp staff receive thorough and thoughtful training regarding ticks and the illnesses that they may carry.  
We have enhanced vigilance including daily “tick checks” using the buddy system, mirrors, frequent showers after being out in brushy wooded areas, and encouraging the use of bug repellent.

Health Center staff are well trained in how to safely remove an embedded tick and follow a strict protocol to monitor anyone who may have been bitten.
If our health staff have any concerns about a tick bite, follow-up care may include a visit to a local clinic, and if recommended by a doctor, sending the tick to the University of Maine for identification.  Parents will be notified if their child has been bitten by a tick.

You Can Help:

Educate your camper on being “tick smart” while away from home to use caution in tick likely areas such as wearing long pants and tucking them into socks.
Send your camper with insect repellent clothing such as insectshield or other clothing treated with permethrin.
Send your camper with a bug repellant that contains DEET.  This link from the EPA has some information to help you choose the right repellant for your family.

13. When are the health forms due?

All your health forms are due by APRIL 1. We appreciate your prompt attention to this. It is important that the Chewonki Health Center has a good understanding of your child’s health prior to arrival. 

14. What about trips and trip safety? 

We take pride in our excellent safety record and to our commitment to managing the risks associated with the experiences that we provide. We expect that participants bring a positive attitude and the understanding that each individual’s actions impact the wellbeing of the entire group. All of our trips operate under rigid safety guidelines and procedures. Participants and caregivers should understand that there is an inherent risk in outdoor adventure experiences, and you may find yourself participating in activities with risk that is not part of your daily life. It is important to understand the physical requirements of the trip that you are joining, and that you clearly discuss any concerns or physical limitations that you may have before committing to a particular trip. As you know, each participant is required to fill out a medical history form and sign an assumption of risk statement. However, in some instances, we may require a doctor’s signature acknowledging that the individual is in a physical condition appropriate for the demands of the trip.

Many of our trips take place in remote areas. Depending on the specific trip, we may carry a cell phone, satellite phone, InReach, or VHF radio for emergency communication. Although we carry these emergency communication devices, there are times when even these can fail and participants should be aware of that possibility. In the event of an emergency, outside medical help may be hours or even days away. Registered Maine Guides or Maine State Trip Leaders lead all trips. Our lead instructors hold certification as Wilderness First Responders and other discipline-specific certifications. We take the responsibility of trip leading seriously, and during the course of the year staff are required to participate in periodic skill trainings.

15. Further Questions?

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Health Center with any questions or concerns. You can reach us at health@chewonki.org or by calling 207-882-7323 x-142

Our mailing address is:
Chewonki Health Center 485 Chewonki Neck Rd. Wiscasset, ME 04578.  Confidential Fax: (207) 882-9564