Summer is approaching and many parents will be sending their children off to camp. If your child wears hearing aids and is set to attend a summer camp for kids of all abilities, here are five things you can do to help your child get the most from his or her summer camp experience:
1. Visit your child’s hearing care professional. Many new digital hearing aids have features and accessories that can enhance your child’s summer camp experience. For example, Siemens Aquaris hearing aids are sweat-proof, waterproof, dirt-proof and shock-resistant. These hearing aids can be completely submerged and help children fully participate in sports and other basic camping activities. Be sure to ask if your child’s hearing aids are waterproof or only water-resistant.
2. Pack accessories and maintenance items. Review the following list of suggested items to bring along to camp with your child’s hearing care provider:
* A full supply of batteries or a hearing aid recharger
* A couple of sturdy hearing aid cases (in case one is lost)
* Extra tubing
* Dehumidifier (not needed for rechargeable hearing aids – the rechargers also dehumidify)
* Hearing aid cleaning kit
* (If camp permits) Cellphone, in case of emergency
* Remote/streamer for synching with Bluetooth phones, game consoles and MP3 players, and/or FM and other wireless systems
* Portable alarm that awakens with vibration or light
3. Gather contact information. Provide the camp with a list of phone numbers to reach you at home, work or while traveling, as well as backup names and numbers for emergency contacts in case you are unavailable. Be sure to notify your alternate contacts that they may be contacted by the camp. Don’t forget to include your child’s hearing care professional’s information.
4. Meet with the staff before camp begins. It’s a good idea to meet with the director and/or staff to discuss your child’s needs. Present your visit as a positive opportunity to have a dialogue, during which you’ll be happy to answer any questions or address concerns the camp staff may have. Your goals are to learn if the staff has experience working with campers wearing hearing aids and to share the information necessary to make the experience positive for all involved. Be sure to discuss the following:
* If your child’s counselors haven’t worked with children who wear hearing aids, explain all the accessories your child is bringing, and how and when they should be used.
* Tell the counselor the best ways to communicate with your child, particularly when giving directions during activities or other situations where safety is a concern. The counselor can wear a special microphone (for example, Siemens VoiceLink accessory) that connects wirelessly with a child’s hearing aids to make communication easy and natural.
* Find out what the camp’s policies are toward educating campers about diverse abilities and handling disputes between campers. You should be able to tell your child exactly how to communicate to his or her counselor if there is a problem, and receive clear assurance that teasing or other harassment will not be tolerated.
* Provide a how-to primer. Though you should personally demonstrate to camp staff how to handle your child’s hearing aids, you can also create a notebook with pictures or a short video tutorial. You and your child can have fun together creating this personalized hearing aid care primer to share with the counselors who are responsible for your child, including how to:
- Properly insert and remove hearing aids
- Change batteries and/or recharge them
- Adjust programs
- Keep them clean and functioning
Remember to give clear instructions as to whether the hearing aids can be worn in the rain, while swimming or participating in other water activities, and what to do to protect them if they cannot.
With good preparation, the summer camp experience should be as safe and enjoyable for kids with hearing aids as it is for any child.