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Old 16-07-06, 08:18 AM   #1
JackSpratts
 
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Join Date: May 2001
Location: New England
Posts: 9,987
Default Checklist for Camp: Bug Spray. Sunscreen. Pills.

"All my best friends take something."

The breakfast buffet at Camp Echo starts at a picnic table covered in gingham-patterned oil cloth. Here, children jostle for their morning medications: Zoloft for depression, Abilify for bipolar disorder, Guanfacine for twitchy eyes and a host of medications for attention deficit disorder.

A quick gulp of water, a greeting from the nurse, and the youngsters move on to the next table for orange juice, Special K and chocolate chip pancakes. The dispensing of pills and pancakes is over in minutes, all part of a typical day at a typical sleep-away camp in the Catskills.

The medication lines like the one at Camp Echo were unheard of a generation ago but have become fixtures at residential camps across the country. Between a quarter and half of the youngsters at any given summer camp take daily prescription medications, experts say. Allergy and asthma drugs top the list, but behavior management and psychiatric medications are now so common that nurses who dispense them no longer try to avoid stigma by pretending they are vitamins.

"All my best friends take something," said David Ehrenreich, 12, who has Tourette’s syndrome yet feels at home here because boys with hyperactivity, mood disorders and facial tics line up just as he does for their daily "meds."

With campers far from home, family and pediatricians, the job of safely and efficiently dispensing medications falls to infirmaries and nurses whose stock in trade used to be calamine lotion and cough syrup. Three times a day, at mealtimes, is the norm, with some campers also requiring a sleep aid at bedtime to counteract the effect of their daytime medications.

"This is the American standard now," said Rodger Popkin, an owner of Blue Stars Camps in Hendersonville, N.C. "It’s not limited by education level, race, socioeconomics, geography, gender or any of those filters."

Jane Gross

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