MEDICAL DISCLOSURE & AUTHORIZATION
Students enrolling in all courses are required to disclose all information surrounding their medical history, prescription medications, physical and mental fitness on the Online Medical Form. The form’s questions are designed to help Outward Bound Costa Rica understand more about a student’s medical and personal history. The information provided is not used for judgment or exclusionary purposes, but to help us create a safe and healthy environment for each student on course. It is of the utmost importance that all information, in as much detail as possible, is included on the form.
Most young people of normal physical ability are able to successfully complete an Outward Bound Costa Rica program. however, we do need to be prepared for possible medical situations that might arise during course and ask for your cooperation in disclosing all medical and health information. Information not disclosed can lead to adverse conditions in assessing risk, and possible removal of the student from their course.
If additional documentation is required after review of the heath form that indicates a student may have difficulty completing one or more planned course activities, we will require a medical statement from a physician attesting to the physical capability of the student participating on the course.
If a student has been within the past two years, or is currently under the care of a counselor, psychiatrist or psychologist, we will require the submission of a Counselor’s Authorization Form, signed by a licensed medical professional attesting to the emotional capability of the student. Again, this is not a judgment or exclusionary exercise but is required to allow our instructors to prepare for the course and provide the support needed by the student.
If you have any questions, please call our office at 1.800.676.2018.
We ask students to bring extra supplies of all prescription medication in the event some are lost or damaged while on course. Instructors hold and distribute, upon signature, all student medication for the duration of the course. This is to help ensure that a student remembers to take medication as well as to keep supplies dry and safe. Our staff does everything possible to ensure students take all required medications at their appropriate time and frequency. Students are accountable to take their medication as prescribed.
We require that all students be up to date with routine vaccinations and have a current tetanus booster. We encourage students and families with concerns about vaccinations to schedule a travel consultation with their doctor to discuss options. Students can visit the United States Center for Disease Control’s Costa Rica page for more details regarding travelers’ health information.
Students who have recently traveled to Brazil or some African countries may need to bring evidence of yellow fever vaccination upon arrival to Costa Rica. The Costa Rican health department is very effective, and this is an effort to keep yellow fever out of the country.
Malaria, yellow fever, and other maladies that affect some tropical environments have been virtually eliminated from Costa Rica. There have been some instances of malaria in Panama but these are isolated cases.
In 20 years, there have been no Outward Bound Costa Rica staff members, whether Costa Rican or foreign national, to contract malaria or yellow fever. That said, we encourage students and parents to follow the instructions of their health care professional in decisions regarding anti-malaria medications and other vaccinations.
FOOD & WATER ON COURSE
Food and water is a very important aspect to any outdoor adventure experience. While many countries in the region have issues with water quality, Costa Rica’s municipal water sources are generally as safe to drink as those in the United States, Canada, and Western Europe. In areas where the water may not be guaranteed to be safe for drinking, our staff can treat water with one of many different treatment systems. Some students opt to bring water purification tablets, a SteriPEN, or similar. In Panama, some water is sourced from rainwater catchment systems.
Food on course is prepared either by our professional cooking staff at our rainforest base, or by students in the field under the direct supervision of their instructors. In 20 years of operating programs, we have had very few incidents of gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) infections attributed to water sources or food handling, as this is a major priority for our organization.
We have experience accommodating a variety of dietary requirements including vegetarian, gluten-free, lactose intolerance, and nut allergies. Students are asked to disclose all dietary restrictions in their online enrollment forms to best ensure their needs are met.
All meals are served family-style, meaning that students will have limited options when it comes to what they eat. Thus it is important that all students be prepared to try new foods and accommodate the dietary needs of their course mates.
Specialty food items geared towards those with dietary restrictions are difficult to find in Costa Rica and surrounding course areas. If a student has a restrictive diet and/or will be attending a course longer than 15 days, we recommend the student brings some packaged food items to supplement local products and meals.
It is important that students are capable of identifying those foods for which they have a restriction in order to ensure they do not ingest anything that could do them harm.
Students must disclose allergies to all medication, foods and environmental factors on their online enrollment form. We request details about a student’s allergen, reaction, and required medical response.
We encourage students who usually carry an EpiPen, or asthma Inhaler to bring at least two, one to be carried by the student, and a back-up that can be carried by the instructor in the field.
The most common medical complication during course is dehydration. There are many factors that lead to dehydration with clothing being a catalyst. For that reason cotton clothing should be avoided when packing for course. Cotton retains moisture, prevents sweat from evaporating, often has mold issues and aids in dehydration. It’s important that clothing worn on course is of lightweight and breathable material. Wool, polyester, silk, and polypropylene are good materials that do not retain moisture and are recommended on course. Our instructors are trained to ensure students are aware of their new tropical surroundings and the importance of drinking water during adventure activities to avoid dehydration.