The end of the school year means summer camp season will soon be here, but bedwetting at summer camp might bring dread. As many children go off to adventures at camp, bedwetting shouldn’t hold them back.
Bedwetting, or nocturnal enuresis, is common for children of all ages. Wetting the bed doesn’t have to keep a child from going to camp or enjoying summer sleepovers with friends. There are many different products that can help a child stay dry at night as well as techniques to limit the chance of waking up in a wet bed.
Bedwetting At Summer Camp Is Common
Bedwetting is very common. About 10-15 percent of children continue to wet the bed until age 6. Bedwetting is twice as common in boys than in girls. 1-2 percent of kids will wet the bed into adulthood. With that many kids wetting the bed, there is probably someone else your child knows who also wets.
If your child currently wets the bed at home regularly, they will probably need some help and protection for dealing with bedwetting at summer camp. This is true whether it is just for an overnighter, a weekend or a residential summer camp. Luckily, there are a lot more products to help kids who wet than there were 10 to 20 years ago.
Handling Bedwetting At Summer Camp – Things To Do Before Camp
Start to plan how you will handle bedwetting at summer camp several months before camp. It is a good idea to start some kind of dry-bed training or alarm program 6 months or so before camp season begins. This will allow your child time to try and get dry at night. Many times, they will stop wetting the bed during this time and nothing more needs to be done. Others may continue to wet the bed. Even if your child isn’t fully dry at night by summer camp, setting good nighttime habits might help it happen less.
Telling A Leader
Both parents and children should be comfortable letting a leader know about their bedwetting. This can be done discretely with the camp counselor or leader when they arrive at camp.
If your child is sleeping in a cabin, a leader and child can come up with a “signal” for a wet bed. They can leave a flashlight or a baseball cap on their pillow. If the counselor finds the signal, they take the soiled sheets and clothes and wash them. All of this before any of the other campers come back to the cabin.
If the child is camping in a tent with or without a tent buddy, they may have to come up with more creative ways. A colored shoelace tied to one of the tent ropes or some other type of signal might work. Or, simply telling the camp leader they wet is perfectly fine too. Talk with your child and come up with a plan before you talk to the leader so everybody is on the same page.
Trusting Your Leader
Letting a leader know about your child’s bedwetting might also other kids. The leader can check to make sure everybody goes to the bathroom before bed. They can quietly remind campers not to drink too much past a certain time. Hydration is one of the number one problems at a summer camp. So encourage your child to drink a lot during the day but stop a few hours before bedtime.
Counselors or leaders can also wake up your child before other campers. This will let them change their soiled clothing before the rest of the group is up.
If your child’s camp health form has a checkbox for bedwetting, don’t lie on the form. Check the box. This will help the camp nurse determine if bedwetting is a reaction to a certain food. Health forms are very private and the camp nurse won’t disclose your child’s bedwetting to other camp staff. Bedwetting at summer camp is common, camp nurses won’t think anything of it.
Sleeping Bag Protection For Wetting
One of the easiest accessories to help summer camp bedwetting is an absorbent sleeping bag liner. Place the liner inside the sleeping bag. It can also be used by itself on a camp cot. The bottom liner absorbs urine and keeps it away from your child. According to reviews, however, the material is a little rough and only one side of the liner is waterproof. If your child moves around a lot while they sleep, the liner may not work for you.
You can also use popular “bed mats” made by Goodnites and other brands to help keep a sleeping bag dry. They can be placed inside the sleeping bag using the sticky squares to hold them in place. These can be difficult to position right so may not work for your child to handle bedwetting at summer camp.
Absorbent Underpants or Pullups For Bedwetting At Summer Camp
Absorbent underpants have been helping kids get a good night’s sleep ever since they have been introduced. These bedwetting underpants have become so common for older children that there are many different brands and sizes to fit kids of all ages. One of the most popular brands of bedwetting diapers is Goodnites. They even recently redid their sizes so their Goodnites XL size fits even bigger kids. With so many brands and choices when it comes to absorbent bedwetting underpants, it is definitely a popular choice for kids who wet the bed at home and for bedwetting at summer camp.
Disposable underpants help put your child in charge of their bedwetting, which is important to maintain their own dignity and hygiene. Since many kids change clothes while in their sleeping bag in the morning, it is possible to change out of a wet pullup and into underwear without a tent buddy even knowing.
Use Zipper Bags
Sent along quart or gallon-size plastic zipper bags with your child to camp. If they wet during the night, they can place the soiled underpant in the plastic bag and zipper it shut. They can keep the plastic bags themselves in the bottom of their sleeping bag for the rest of the camp, put them in their backpack, or dispose of them at the camp. Because things are sometimes thrown away that aren’t supposed to be thrown away at camp, they should not dispose of them in their campsite’s trash and definitely not the campsite latrine as it might clog up the cleaning machine when the latrines are cleaned out. Ask a leader where they can dispose of them elsewhere in camp or ask a leader if they can dispose of it for them.
If any clothes or sleeping bag still got wet, a leader can usually use the camp’s washer and dryer to wash out any clothes or sleeping bag. This can be done during activity time in the morning or afternoon. It is generally no big deal to see people using the washing machines during the day. The leader can then put the dry clothes in the sleeping bag and place them back in your child’s tent.
Medications For Bedwetting
You can ask your doctor if taking a medication such as DDAVP would help your child’d bedwetting at summer camp. DDAVP stands for desmopressin. It is a medication that helps reduce urine production, especially at night. It is available in tablet form or a dissolving melt-tab. DDAVP can throw off the body’s sodium levels causing side-effects such as vomiting, diarrhea and flu. Your doctor can help determine if DDAVP is right for your child. If prescribed the medication, it should be closely monitored and given by the camp nurse.
An Example Scenario
Your son, Johnny Scout, has been a member of a troop for a year but hasn’t been on many campouts because he wets the bed. He also hasn’t advanced very far in his ranks because he hasn’t been camping. Even though he still has accidents, he wants to go to summer camp with his friends but is scared they will find out his secret.
When registration for camp opens, you talk with a leader and tell them of Johnny’s bedwetting. The leader tells you Johnny isn’t the only one. In the months leading up to summer camp, Johnny starts an alarm program with a sticker chart and also keeps track of meals and liquids during the day. As summer camp approaches, the number of wet nights gets smaller each week, but they still happen. Johnny also notices he wets less if he stops drinking liquids by 8 pm and goes to the bathroom right before bed.
Johnny gets his summer camp physical and everything is normal. His doctor doesn’t recommend DDAVP and instead says to keep up the nighttime routine. When packing for camp, he packs enough Goodnites for the week (as well as some extras) and plastic zip bags in his pack. He places a few pairs in the bottom of his sleeping bag before rolling it up.
Arriving At Camp
Johnny gets to camp and puts down his ground pad and unrolls his sleeping bag. He drinks a lot of water during the day but stops at 8 pm. Then he goes to the restroom before going to bed. Both he and his tent buddy change clothes while wiggling inside their sleeping bags. In the morning, Johnny realizes he has wet the bed but slips off the Goodnite and puts it in the bag. He then puts on his swim trunks and finds a buddy to go to the showers and polar bear swim. Later that day, he put his Goodnite and some trash in a plastic grocery bag and throws it away near the camp office. His secret is safe, bedwetting at summer camp isn’t a problem, and his sleeping bag is dry! It’s going to be a great week!
Summer Camp Is Fun, Even For Bedwetters
Attending summer camp is something kids will remember for the rest of their lives. Handling something like bedwetting at camp is no different than handling it at home – it takes patience and understanding. Choosing to let your leader or counselor know is a big step and can make all the difference in how your child remembers camp. By talking with your leader or counselor and selecting the right protective products for your child, they can have just as much fun as other kids without the fear of their secret getting out.
Products such as Goodnites are recommended for their absorbency as well as being able to hide under loose-fitting clothes. Work with your child to take care of their own night and morning routines to limit fluids and take a shower in the morning especially if they wet during the night.
By following these tips, your child will come back from camp happy and ready to go on more outings with their friends. There is no reason for kids who wet the bed to miss the experience of a sleepaway camp.