This is the time of year when we hear from parents about the fear of letting their child attend summer camp.
As for the child, they are torn between terror and excitement. The excitement is because, of course, it’s summer camp…a time to do nothing but laugh and play. And then there’s the terror. That is the most fitting word to use, because we hear and we know that the thing all bedwetters dread the most is being discovered, and they’ll go to great lengths to hide their condition.
We spoke with a mom last week who thought she had fully prepared her 13-year-old son to attend camp and to completely conceal his bedwetting with the use of Pull-Ups. Her careful planning was undermined by a member of the camp staff. She was devastated when she discovered what happened that put her son at risk for exposure. This mom gave us permission to tell her story with the hope that other parents can avert the kind of experience she had.
Here is her story. Following this are the 5 Critical Steps we recommend to ensure you greater peace of mind.
This mom, (Lydia), and her son, (Bryce), agreed that wearing a diaper was the only way to feel comfortable to sleep in a cabin with other campers. At her son’s insistence, they purchased all diaper brands and sizes so he could do what he called “test driving” all of them in search of the “quietest” one. All of this to prevent someone from hearing the sound of moving around in a diaper. After all, it’s a noticeable sound. They practiced how he would slide it on once he was in his sleeping bag at night, and how he would discreetly dispose of them in the morning. Not the most exciting thing to have to add to a care-free camp experience.
Typically this plan is the most successful.
However, Lydia did not learn until nine months later–as we were discussing a plan to put an end to Bryce’s bedwetting–what occurred during her son’s camp stay. When he had checked in with the camp director as his mom advised him to do, Bryce was told that they required he use their own chosen disposable diaper for legal reasons, and that they needed to exchange them before he could be admitted. In our consultation with this family, Lydia discovered that Bryce was afraid to challenge them since they were in charge. As you can imagine, Bryce was terrified that someone would find out he was wearing a diaper, so he chose not to wear a diaper and stay awake all night to avoid a wet. He said he was typically exhausted all day, which prevented him from participating in a few enjoyable activities. He would take a nap wearing the camp-issued diaper because no one was around. Bryce told us that he didn’t tell his mother that he was miserable because he didn’t want her to be sad.
Summer camps may report to parents that they know how to deal with bed wetting, even bed wetting teens. However, you need to be assured that your child will be protected from potential harm just as with Bryce, so we encourage you to have an in-depth conversation with a director before the day arrives.
Here are The Five Critical Steps:
1. Identify not only the director(s) of the camp, but also the person(s) assigned to your child’s cabin. You need to be assured by them that they will be discreet. Ask them what their protocol is. Make sure they can provide special assistance to ensure the bedwetting won’t be discovered. Discovery is devastating for a bed wetter. That discovery can certainly cause long-term damage to self-esteem.
2. Notify the director that you will be providing your own privacy package which may include the following: Diapers, non-scented wet wipes, a trash bag, a suitcase with a lock, and whatever else it is you feel would help put your child’s mind at ease.
3. Ask to review their procedures for dealing with this issue. You need to become partners on behalf of your child. Present different scenarios and ask how they would deal with each scenario. For example, if a camp counselor is unavailable, then who would be able to assist your child during if needed.
4. Don’t assume a so-called “bedwetting medication” will keep your child dry. The medication is intended to slow kidney function and limit urine production. It is NOT reliable and should not be depended upon to ensure dryness. Even if the drug was used in previous camp stays or overnights and it was successful in keeping your child dry, there is no guarantee it will do they same again. Additionally, the medication has a dehydrating effect on the body and requires extra hydration during the day, so make sure you child has a water bottle available to him when active.
5. Daytime accidents are often a symptom from the nighttime bedwetting. In the event of daytime leaking or accidents, you need to know what the counselors will do if your child reports leaking to them. Make sure there is a plan for a change of clothing as well.
Once you have established a clear plan with the camp, review it with your child. Your child, tween, or bedwetting teen needs to have confidence in their camp team, to know they can be trusted, and that everyone understands the situation and will be there to help. Let your child know that you’ll be one phone call away.
International Director and First Patient of ETC