Getting Your Food-Allergic Child Ready for Summer Camp
One of summer’s highlights is fast approaching – summer camp! And for most kids it’s an exciting getaway from school, tests and homework. Even kids with food-allergies can now join in the fun at one of the 12,000 day and summer camps throughout the U.S. that provide a wonderful experience for enrichment, socialization and downright good times.
First, you’ll want to get all of the details from the camp, including what the activities are in case your child cannot participate. Make sure that the camp has a written food allergy policy in place that ensures staff members are trained to care for children who might experience food allergy reactions while at camp. Having epinephrine readily available, as well as staff members who know how to administer it, is crucial. Also, make sure that epinephrine auto-injectors accompany a trained staff member on any excursions or travel during camp.
Along with all of the paperwork, including a photo of your child with details on the back with their name and their food allergies listed. Do not simply transfer school documentation; camp is different from school. Does the camp have a Food Allergy Action Plan? Get the details and share yours with them as well, even if they have one of their own.
Obviously, if the camp is exclusively for food-allergic kids, most of your questions and concerns will be easily addressed. If the camp is a traditional camp with both non-allergic and food-allergic kids, find out if everyone is integrated or if the food-allergic kids have designated areas where they eat and sleep.
Here’s an important list of other questions to get answered by the summer camp you select:
- Who are the top two primary healthcare people at camp and what are their credentials?
- How far is the camp from a hospital or medical treatment center?
- Do travel personnel have sufficient medication to provide a margin of safety?
- Are first line staff and counselors (part-timers, too) trained to recognize food allergy reactions and know how to respond?
- Is the camp’s cook knowledgeable and cooperative regarding food substitutes for food-allergic children? If you wish, is it possible to meet with the cook personally?
- Is it okay for your child to bring their own snacks?
- If your child is used to carrying their own epi-pen, ask what the camp guidelines are.
- Ask about sending your child’s sunscreen, since some sunscreens can be toxic to people with food allergies.
All children need to feel connected with other children and not like an outsider. This can be a problem for food-allergic children and even worse while away from home. Be sure your child is being overseen by knowledgeable, caring, responsible adults. After all, while your child is away at summer camp, you want to be able to relax and enjoy your break, too!
Learn more about managing food allergies at camp and what your child’s responsibilities are. Download the guidelines and handy checklist to help you get ready for summer camp.