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How to Handle Bedwetting at Summer Camp

May 17, 2023 4 min read

Bedwetting does happen at summer camp!  Since bedwetting affects about 5% of school aged children, chances are that at least one or two children in each 20 person cabin will worry about waking up wet.  What can you do to help?

Communicate with Camp Counselors

Make sure your child knows that he or she is not alone and most camps are very helpful in discreetly handling any wetting episodes.  Double voiding (urinating two times) in the hour before going to sleep is helpful.

In some cases, you can make arrangements with the camp counselor to continue a lifting routine if this is used successfully at home. (Lifting is when a caregiver walks the child to the bathroom at a designated time.)  Also discuss any laundry needs that might arise and how that will be discreetly accomplished.

Pack plenty

Pack extra pajama pants and an extra identical sleeping bag, in case one needs to be washed.  Dark colored, loose sweat pants or shorts, with an oversized t-shirt could be worn to camouflage bulky disposable bedtime pants.

Consider sending wet wipes for your child to clean up with in the morning after taking off their disposable pants.

Daytime Hydration

Staying well hydrated in the daytime is important so your child is not so thirsty later in the day.  Fluid of choice after dinner should be water. Drinking throughout the day allows frequent urination and fluids to be processed by the body during daytime hours. 

Bowel Movements

Remind your child that staying regular with bowel movements is important and that they should poop when they feel the urge, not try to hold it.  If they take Miralax or other bowel stimulants at home, continue these while at camp.

Find the Right Gear 

Small waterproof pads can be used on top of a sheet or used inside a sleeping bag. These pads can be discreetly pulled into place when your child is ready to go to sleep. Colored pads blend in with the sleeping bag interiors and white waterproof pads are less obvious on white sheets.

Wear disposable pants, with a plan for putting them on discreetly and disposal in the morning. A week’s worth of disposables can easily fit in the foot of their sleeping bag. When it’s time for bed, they shimmy into the disposable pants, without their friends suspecting a thing.

Disposables come in all sizes, even small through extra large adult sizes. If your child has outgrown traditional children’s disposables, there are still many options. Disposable male guards or women's incontinence pads can be secured to regular underwear to catch a small amount of urine. Disposable bed mats that lie on a sheet or in a sleeping bag protect from leakage from the disposable pants.  Some even have tape strips to hold them in place.

Get your child on Board

It is important to discuss with your child the procedure for discreetly using any waterproof protection so they are comfortable with the routine for use and disposal.  Include a large plastic bag for any reusables that need to come home or small plastic resealable bags for discreet disposal at camp.

Get Your Doctor’s Advice

Medication, such as desmopressin, can be used temporarily to decrease the amount of urine produced at night. The correct dosage should be determined a week or two before camp begins. One, two or three tablets may be required to keep your child dry at night. 

If three tablets do not provide a dry night at home, this medicine will not work at camp either.  Have a backup plan in place!  

Only a small amount of liquid (2-4 ounces) should be ingested once this medication is given. It works best when the counselor or camp nurse gives it close to the time of actually going to sleep.

Plan Ahead

Work out a plan using these tips before your child leaves for camp.  You can even do a trial run at home implementing the techniques they will use. Teach your child how to stealthily change out of their disposable pants, either in their sleeping bag or in a bathroom stall.  Pack plastic bags for your child to wrap the pants in so other kids won’t see the soaked pants in the trash can.

Looking Forward

Once your child returns from camp (or if you have a few weeks before they leave), try using a bedwetting alarm to help speed up the development of consistently dry nights. Alarms alert him or her when wetting is happening so that they can learn to get up and walk to the bathroom or hold it until morning.  Once your child can do this, they will no longer have to worry about camps or sleepover invitations.

Bedwetting alarms would not be used at camp or in a situation that would be embarrassing to your child. They would be used in your own home for typically 8-12 weeks to become consistently dry.


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