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Camp activities burn calories while kids have fun

Exercise is a great side effect of camp

Exercise is a great side effect of camp

The daily activities that make summer camps so memorable offer an added benefit to youth: healthful exercise.

According to a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, children need at least 45 minutes of vigorous exercise per day. Campers, on average, get three times that amount of exercise.

Consider a typical camper's day, which might include 45 minutes to an hour each of three activities (estimates are based on calories burned by a 75-pound child):
  • Horseback riding - 165 calories
  • Swimming - 300 calories
  • Canoeing - 236 calories
That level of exercise, combined with a healthy diet and professional supervision, offers campers the opportunity to learn healthy habits that can last a lifetime.

But while camp activities can help kids burn calories, there are some other safety issues kids need to keep in mind. Campers can expect hours of sunny, outdoor activities - and that means camp staff have to be on top of ways to prevent sunburn.

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"Sunburn is a preventable injury," says Linda Ebner Erceg, Director of the Certificate in Camp Nursing Program; Instructor at Dept. of Nursing, Bemidji State University. "It simply shouldn't happen to staff or campers. If someone gets sunburned, the camp's risk manager should determine why."

Erceg worked with the Centers for Disease Control's melanoma initiative and helped develop these Sun Protection Strategies for Camps:
  • Follow the "Shadow Rule", seek shade when your shadow is shorter than you are tall.
  • Everyone should use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Maximize shade-time activities so "sun time" can be saved for activities that need to be in the sun like swimming, soccer, tennis.
  • Camps should do a "shade assessment" and figure out how shade options can be increased?and save "sun time" for activities that need to be in the sun, like swimming, tennis, etc.
  • Use a hat with at least a 4" brim that goes all around the head.
  • Use UV-rated sunglasses; UV rays cause glaucoma.
  • Wear long-sleeves, when possible. Most cotton T-shirts have an SPF of 6-10, so they aren't good protection by themselves.
  • Use the ABCDs of malignant melanoma for moles: Asymmetry, Border, Color variations and Diameter larger than a pencil eraser.

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