Summer Camp: Kids’ Greatest Fun Getaway, Food Allergy or Not!
It’s the kick off to summer fun, where kids from all over the world go to take a break from school, tests, and the stress of homework – summer camp! In the U.S. alone there are more than 12,000 day and summer camps that provide a place for enrichment, learning, socialization and plenty of adventure.
While there are some food allergy-friendly camps in the U.S., they may not be located in your area. If that’s the case, get the details from the camp you select with a listing of all of the activities in case there are some in which 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.
Epinephrine should be readily available with a staff member who knows how to administer it. Any field trips or excursions during camp should include epinephrine auto-injectors to be administered if needed by a trained staff member.
Include a photo of your child in the paperwork submitted to the camp. List the child’s name and food allergies on the back of the photo. 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 your own action plan with them as well, even if they have one of their own. That way you can be confident you’ve covered everything.
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 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?
- What distance 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 and respond to food allergy?
- 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 Epipen, ask about the camp guidelines.
- Request sending your child’s sunscreen, since some sunscreens can be toxic to people with food allergies.
Food-allergic kids deal with a lot issues each day and it can be even worse while away from home. It’s important they feel connected and not like an outsider. When you know your child is being cared for by responsible adults, you can enjoy your time more while your child is away at camp.