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Your Guide to Preparing Your International Student for Summer Camp and Activities

Summer is just around the corner. This time of year, many parents start preparing their children for a season full of activities. If your family is traveling abroad for the summer or your international student will attend a summer camp in the United States, there are a few things you can do to ensure a safe, enjoyable adventure. 

Here’s what to keep in mind when making your summer plans.

Assess the Options

There are many summer camps for international students. Explore full summer camps as well as themed camps where you can enroll your child for a shorter period, perhaps a week or two. Get a good understanding of what they want to do and the planning needed to make it happen—especially if the student is traveling alone.

When comparing your options, pay attention to the paperwork. Review the camp schedules, programming, deadlines, and any other requirements—including medical exams. It’s hard to get appointments with doctors currently, so be sure to book yours now.

International students will likely have even more paperwork and requirements, so go through those documents to ensure they are completed on time—and you’ve gotten any medical or visa appointments out of the way ahead of time. Purchase accident insurance or look into monthly coverage options.

Know the Policies

Whether you’re sending your child to the local recreation center for swim lessons or they’re on their way for a week at sleepaway camp, be sure you know the rules and policies of the host organization. This is especially true since many changed during, or because of, the pandemic. It’s even more necessary if your child is leaving your home country to attend camp in the U.S.

Explore Travel

Some parents travel with their child to ensure they safely arrive at a summer camp. Make sure you are aware of all the U.S. travel and camp or program requirements if you choose to do this. For example, if you escort your child and plan to stay overnight to ensure your child is settled, make sure you know where you’re staying (at a hotel), how you will get there, or if there are quarantine requirements.

Gather Supplies

Once you have finalized your itinerary, prioritize what you need. You can grab sunblock before a summer trip to see family, but you’ll need more time to get the right bathing suit or goggles. And when you travel to a foreign country, be sure you have compatible electronic adaptors; your children may need special electronics that are compatible in the U.S. to stay in touch or use translation tools—staying connected is integral for a child far from home. 

If you’re unsure, ask the camp to provide a list of things your student may need. If your child is attending a day camp, this means having a bag ready to go each day with all the essentials, such as sunblock, sunglasses, and a bagged lunch. Don’t forget to notify the necessary camp staff if your child has medication.

Plan for the Unexpected

It can be challenging for international students traveling to the U.S. for a summer camp to navigate getting to the right place. There may be breaks between camp weeks when you’ll need to ensure your child has adequate care. Talk to the camp or activity staff to ensure they meet all needs (getting to and from the airport, and having a place to stay if the activity is canceled for the day) ahead of time.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially if your child is going to a summer program designed exclusively for international students. The camp staff has experience coordinating travel and accommodations for children traveling abroad, and can be a great resource for you.

When your child is studying in a foreign country, their health and safety are priorities. Let ISM’s International Scholar Protection give you peace of mind knowing your child has access to high-quality health care (offered by the Blue Cross Blue Shield® PPO network) no matter where they are in the U.S.
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