It’s almost time for summer camp again! After two summers of no camp or limited capacity camp, summer camps are expected to be back in full swing this year. A lot of preparation goes into making lasting summer camp memories. There are a number of contingencies that families should plan for ahead of time. After your child is off at camp, it may be too late to update contact information, medication lists, and temporary guardianship permissions.
Summer Camp Preparations for Minor Children
In addition to sunscreen, swimsuits, and extra socks, parents should fill out the necessary paperwork to ensure that their child gets the care they need while away from home.
Appointing a Temporary Guardian
In Michigan, and many other states, a temporary legal guardianship allows an appointed individual to make most decisions (including medical decisions) on your minor child’s behalf. The guardianship is for a fixed period of time and can usually be terminated at any time, such as when camp is over, and the child returns home. Some states permit a specific power of attorney for a child’s medical decisions granting parental consent for medical care to be provided to a minor.
Appointing a guardian may not be necessary if the camp is close to home and you can respond quickly in an emergency. If the camp is farther away from home or you will be traveling and unavailable, you may wish to grant temporary guardianship to a trusted family member or friend who is closer by and who could step in for you and authorize medical care if needed.
In some cases, you may be able to give the camp permission to authorize emergency medical care. However, if the camp’s paperwork limits the scope of its authorization or liability, a temporary guardianship or power of attorney may be the better option.
Updating Contact Information
Whom should the camp contact if something goes wrong? If you live far away from the camp or are not able to be there quickly in an emergency, you may not be the best first point of contact. Also, if you cannot be reached because you are traveling, working, or unable to get away because of illness or some other reason, it is advisable to have alternate contacts named. Provide the camp with some trustworthy alternates who can be contacted or who may be closer by in case of emergency.
If your child takes medications, it will be necessary to comply with state law and camp regulations to ensure your child is given the treatment that is needed.
Make sure that you have reviewed the specific camp requirements for administering your child’s medications. Sign any necessary permission or waiver forms that the camp provides. Provide details about the medication’s name, dosage, and dispensing instructions.
Considerations for Campers Age Eighteen or Older
Parents are responsible for making arrangements for minor children and providing necessary legal authorizations. Children who are over the age of eighteen, however, are responsible for providing their own legal authorizations, even if still living at home. Therefore, they should put in place some basic estate planning documents.
Even if they have little or no money or property, it is necessary for your child over the age of eighteen to do some essential estate planning. No one has authority to act on their behalf if needed, unless they, or a probate court, grants someone legal authority. The following documents are recommended.
- Healthcare power of attorney: If accident or illness causes your child to become unable to speak to healthcare providers and to authorize needed treatment, a patient advocate can be granted that authority. That agent is then allowed to make medical decisions on behalf of your child until the child becomes able to act on their own behalf. The healthcare power can be adjusted or revoked at any time.
- Advance directive or living will: A life threatening injury may be rare while at camp, but such injuries could occur either while at camp or while traveling between camp and home. In case of such an event, it is advisable to have documents in place that clearly spell out wishes regarding medical treatment, end-of-life decisions, tube feeding, mechanical ventilation, and resuscitation.
- HIPAA Authorization: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) created national standards for disclosing patient health information. Under the HIPAA privacy rule, parents have access to the medical records of their minor children. But after the child turns eighteen, parents no longer have automatic access. By signing a HIPAA authorization form, a person older than eighteen can give their parents (or anyone they choose) legal permission to access their protected healthcare information, allowing authorized individuals to communicate with a healthcare provider about the patient’s care, condition, and treatment, but not make medical decisions.
- Financial power of attorney: As with a healthcare power of attorney, a financial power of attorney gives someone (called an attorney-in-fact or agent) the legal authority to act on another person’s behalf. A financial power of attorney may be very broad or may be limited to tasks such as cashing checks, paying bills, and making bank deposits. These days, many handle their financial transactions online. However, if the child does not have access to the internet or a device at camp, they may need somebody else to temporarily handle their finances. With the financial power of attorney, the child can give that authority to their parent or another trusted person.
Summer camp requires some advance planning. Make sure you include the planning we have outlined above. If you or your child have camp-related legal questions, we are here to help. Contact our office to set up an appointment.