Ten million children a year head to summer camps to meet new people, experience new things, challenge themselves and enjoy a change of scenery. However, children suffering from bedwetting (aka urinary incontinence at night, or nocturnal enuresis) often choose not to take part because they’re embarrassed. On the other hand, some parents may be too worried that their children will be mocked if someone found out.
Whether you’re a child or a parent, bedwetting should never stand between a child and a great summer camp experience. Yes, it IS a problem, but it's also manageable if you have a plan.
Planning Tips for Parents
Talk to your child’s physician (if you haven’t done so already). Bedwetting at night is very common in kids, but the doctor may want to make sure there are no serious underlying health problems. Take this step at least a month before camp, just in case.
If possible, head to the camp with your kid, either before camp starts or at least on drop off day, so you can help them check out the facilities. Make sure your child has a clear impression of the route to take to the bathroom from their sleeping quarters.
Ask the instructors if they ever handled children suffering from nighttime incontinence (trust me, any experienced camp counselor has dealt with this before!). Discuss your child’s needs with them so that they know what to do and how to help. Keep your child in the loop on this conversation, so he or she knows at least one instructor to go to for help.
Prepare a “Night Time Kit” for camp including:
Disposable incontinence products - pull-up underwear is generally more discreet but briefs with tabs are easier to change without removing all clothing. Store-brand products are generally only for moderate absorbency, so consider a specialty or high-absorbency product for camp, when leaks absolutely can NOT happen.
Disposable underpads for the bed - optional and depending on how much your child urinates at night, to act as the last line of defense against leaks.
Disposable washcloths or wipes - helps to make cleanup easier and prevent rashes, especially in hot summer weather.
DIsposal bags for throwing out soiled products - kitchen catchers are a good size and are opaque, so they less likely to be embarrassing for the child.
Sealable bags for soiled clothing - extra-large Ziploc bags are inexpensive and contain smells that might be embarrassing.
2 pairs of pyjamas for each night they spend in camp.
A good quality flashlight and extra batteries for late night trips to the bathroom.
Whatever you do, make sure to talk to your child about each of these steps. You should also soothe them because they’ll be tense about going to a regular camp, especially if this is their first time.
Planning Tips for Kids
Though your parents may take care of most of your needs, it is your responsibility as well to make sure that things go smoothly at camp. Here are some tips to help you have a fun summer at camp minus any awkwardness:
Before heading to camp, start practicing how to change soiled containment products, clean yourself, and (if necessary) change your clothes at night or in poor lighting. It’s often tempting to just wait until the morning if you wake up in the middle of the night with a wet bed at home, however learning to do this now means that you can do it at camp and avoid an awkward situation when everyone else wakes up.
Go over the kit that your parents have put together for you and make sure you know how to use each item in it. You don’t want to discover your first night at camp that you need to change at night but can’t figure out how to turn on your flashlight!
When you get to camp, check each night before sleeping that your kit is within easy reach and that you know the path to the bathroom. It can be hard in the dark, or if you’re still half asleep, to find these items, so do a mental check before sleep to keep it fresh in your mind.
In the absence of your parents, your counselor is in charge of helping you and making sure you enjoy your camp experience. He or she will almost certainly be happy to help if needed, from running out of supplies unexpectedly, or needing to know where is the best place to dispose of soiled materials.
Stay hydrated, especially in hot summer weather, but consider cutting back or eliminating liquids 2 hours before bedtime, and making a trip to the bathroom your last task before turning in for the night.
Do you have a tip of your own to survive summer camp with night time bedwetting? Comment below to share!