When Your Kids' Camp Doesn't Take Sunscreen Seriously

BlogHer Original Post

Earlier this week, I caught wind of the Michener kids, who got severe sunburns after a field day spent without sunscreen due to a state law preventing adults from applying sunscreen to kids (even if they have the required prescription to put the sunscreen on in the first place). I thought to myself, "At least I don't have to worry about that." YES, THAT IS FORESHADOWING.

Michener wrote:

Common sense missing + fear of being sued = my kids pay the price. Not okay.

There were a lot of comments on her blog and a lot of people blaming Michener for everything from letting her kids wear tank tops when it was raining to sending them to school without sunscreen in the first place. While I felt horrible for Michener and worse for her kids, I took comfort, I admit, in knowing I have received the necessary forms and signed them and sent sunscreen along with my daughter to her summer camp along with communicating in writing to put it on her every time she goes outside. I had nothing to worry about! Smug old me, what with the taking every precaution and catastrophizing and helicopter parenting and whatever else people like to say about parents who are ON SUNSCREEN.

Then, yesterday, my daughter's summer camp went on a field trip to a water park. Knowing it would be 100 degrees and sunny, I worried. I slathered her in sunscreen in the morning, as I always do, but she was not in her swimsuit. I sent along a brand-new can of spray sunscreen so the teachers would not have to touch her to apply it (she has face sunscreen that's separate). I mentioned my concerns about sunscreen and sunscreen reapplication to the teacher who signed her in when I dropped her off. And then I thought about maybe writing this post but never got around to it.

At 6 pm after my husband picked my daughter up, he walked in the house first. "You might want to prepare yourself," he said. "She's roasted."

My stomach dropped.

Even though we were just at a water park last weekend and go to the pool for hours every weekend day, my redheaded daughter has never had a blistering or severe sunburn before. BEFORE. Because look at her now.

sunburned face

sunburned back

sunburned front

You may wonder, is this the secret shame of a working mother? No, it is my public pissed-offedness over adult professionals whom I am paying not to parent my child but to take care of her while I work falling down on the job. And not only falling down on it, but also refusing to take responsibility for it and defensively posturing when called on it. When I talked to the camp administrators this morning, they said things like this:

But we put sunscreen on her.

We put a t-shirt on her because she was getting a little pink.

Don't worry.

What they didn't say?

I'm sorry, we screwed up and you are not over-reacting because you pay us to look after your daughter.

My daughter told me one of the other fair-skinned kids' moms asked if she should take her daughter to the hospital when she picked her up. (She was worse off than my daughter, who was only burned on the top half of her body.) I left an irate voicemail last night when my daughter got home and as of noon haven't received a callback from the camp leader, even though I talked to the front desk and left my number again asking for clarification on how the policy will change so that sunscreen application happens once an hour when they are outside and is supervised by an adult who can make sure every spot is hit.


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