Are you preparing to send your child to overnight camp this summer? If so, and your child wears hearing aids, here are five things you can do to prepare so that your youngster enjoys their time away and returns with their valuable devices intact.
Call or visit your child’s hearing care professional
Many hearing aids are robust enough to stand up to the elements. If you aren’t sure how sturdy your child’s hearing aids are, the time to ask is before they head off into an environment where exposure to water, dirt, dust, and sweat is inevitable. If your child doesn’t have water-resistant hearing aids, ask for suggestions on how to protect them, such as waterproof headbands and similar protective gear. If you’re fortunate enough to have a hearing care professional who offers the free myHearing™ App, you should be able to get all the info you need via a quick CareChat™ session.
Chat with the director/staff
Before camp begins, arrange a call or visit with the director and counselors to discuss your child’s needs. Offer to answer any questions or address concerns the camp staff may have. Keep the tone positive by focusing on everything your child can do on their own or with reasonable assistance. Make sure you’re comfortable that the counselors and others responsible for your child have experience working with campers who have hearing loss and/or wear hearing aids, or that they at least have a working knowledge of what is required of them. Here are some topics to cover during your discussion:
- If meeting in person, demonstrate how to handle your child’s hearing aids, including changing programs, cleaning, and basic troubleshooting.
- Explain any/all accessories and maintenance items your child uses, and how and when they should be used.
- Discuss the best ways to communicate with your child, especially when giving directions during activities or other situations involving their safety. If you have an accessory that lets someone wear a microphone to stream their voice wirelessly directly into your child’s hearing aids, demonstrate how to use it properly.
- Find out what the camp’s policies are regarding educating other campers about diverse abilities and discouraging bullying. Make sure you understand how your child should report problems to their counselors, and that the camp has set policies for dealing with harassment.
Pack everything they’ll need for maintenance
There’s so much to remember when helping your child pack up for sleepaway camp. A good general tip is to create a checklist in advance and then tick items off the list as they are packed. Here’s a list specifically for hearing aid usage and maintenance:
- A full supply of batteries, or the charger for a rechargeable pair
- At least two sturdy hearing aid cases (in case one gets lost)
- Extra tubing
- Extra domes (if wearing a receiver-in-canal (RIC) model)
- Dehumidifier (although not needed for rechargeable hearing aids because chargers also dry)
- Cleaning kit
- Accessories like remote controls and wireless audio streamers
- Alternately, make sure your child has any remote or streaming apps downloaded to their smartphone. If using apps, be sure the camp will allow your child to keep their cellphone with them since phones may be banned during some (or all) activities
- (Optional) Portable alarm that uses vibrations or light, as many camps utilize trumpets or other audible-only alerts
Create a how-to guide
If you don’t have a spare guide from your hearing care professional on how to care for your child’s hearing aids, consider putting together a notebook, printout, or even a short video tutorial for the camp. Your family can have fun creating a personalized hearing aid care primer that explains how to properly insert and remove hearing aids, change batteries, adjust programs, and keep devices clean and functioning.
Provide emergency contact information
Give the camp a list of phone numbers and/or emails to reach you at home, work, or while traveling, as well as names and contact information for emergency backups in case you are unreachable. Make sure you let your alternate contacts know they are on your list, and that you include emergency contact information for your child’s hearing care professional. Again, if the professional uses the myHearing App, your child can simply download it to their smartphone before leaving and use it to reach out to their hearing care professional if needed (e.g., for a simple remote hearing aid adjustment).