Overnight Camp is supposed to be a fun experience that your child can remember for the rest of their life. Sending kids with food allergies away to overnight camp might feel like too big of a risk, but your child’s food allergy shouldn’t stop them from bonding with new friends.
1 in 13 children has a food allergy. An even more alarming fact is that 1 in 3 of those children is allergic to more than one food. If you’re the parent of a child with a food allergy, the world can become a much scarier place.
After you read these seven tips on how to successfully prepare your child for overnight camp, you’ll feel confident that they will have a blast and stay safe.
1. Kids with Food Allergies Should Always Carry an EpiPen
Food allergies in children can be severe enough to be fatal. Taking all precautions to protect your child is necessary for any environment they’re in. Your child should get in the habit of carrying an EpiPen on them no matter where they go.
In your home, your child will never be exposed to their allergen. However, since the real world is filled with people who are oblivious to food allergies, there are risks everywhere. Your child is at no more risk attending school than they would be at camp. Teaching your child to fear their surroundings at all times can traumatize them.
Instead, you should make sure they are always prepared for the worst. When your child has an EpiPen on hand, they can feel secure in any environment. Before sending your child to camp, you should teach them to recognize the early stages of anaphylactic shock.
If they start to feel any symptoms, they can administer their EpiPen or give it to a trained adult.
2. Inform All Adults of Your Child’s Food Allergy
Whenever your child is in the care of other adults, everyone should be informed of their medical conditions, including any foods that trigger asthma or cause other adverse reactions. Most camps have health forms for parents to fill out so that all staff can be prepared to keep every child safe.
It’s a great idea to have a sit-down conversation with some of the camp staff. If they truly care about your child’s needs, then you can walk away from that conversation feeling secure in your decision.
3. Do Your Research on the Best Overnight Camp
While all camps are designed to be fun, as far as food allergy preparedness is concerned, some camps are much better than others.
Using resources like the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) food allergy nonprofit can help prepare you, your child, and their camp.
Some camps can be located in the middle of nowhere for a true nature experience. While this can be fun for the kids, it’s also dangerous if there are no hospitals nearby. Finding a camp that is located near a hospital is ideal for children with severe food allergies.
Finding an overnight camp that also has at least one trained medical staff member available 24/7 can also help you and your child feel safer. Food allergy rashes on face may not warrant a trip to the hospital, so a nurse on campgrounds can put out smaller fires.
4. Ask All the Important Questions
When selecting an overnight camp, you should treat the process like a job interview. Your child’s camp should be happy to answer all of your questions and address any of your concerns.
Some important questions to ask your camp are as follows:
- What is your protocol for adult supervision?
- Do you offer meal accommodations for children with food allergies?
- Are there seating arrangements that can help limit my child’s risk of exposure?
- Can campers bring food from home?
- Do kids have access to snacks at any time?
- Is your staff trained for food allergy emergencies?
Discussing these issues can give you a better idea of how prepared your camp is. If you feel that there are not enough preventative measures in place to protect your child, don’t feel shy about continuing your search.
5. Make Sure Your Child Feels Comfortable
While many kids would jump with excitement at the thought of going to an overnight camp, some may not be interested. Whether your child is introverted or is uncomfortable because of their food allergy, having a conversation with them is important.
Once you’ve determined that your child feels ready to take on the world, preparing them can prevent a lot of trouble. If possible, try to arrange a meeting with camp staff before camp starts so your child can learn which adults to look for if they ever feel unsafe.
6. Learn about Camp Activities
Knowing the daily schedule and activities your child will be participating in can help you determine if they will be safe during their stay. If there are any field trips off of campgrounds, the staff should be prepared with medical supplies in case of an emergency.
Some activities may also put your child at risk. If there are any arts and crafts that involve empty egg or milk cartons, they can be at risk. Many children can understand that certain foods need to be avoided, but they might not realize that their containers are also contaminated.
7. Ask How the Camp Educates Kids about Food Allergies
A camp can do everything to keep your child safe, but if other children aren’t careful, there’s nothing that can be done to protect your child. This is why it’s important to ask your child’s camp staff how they plan on educating other campers.
If other children know the severity of food allergies, they will be considerate and kind.
Ready to Plan Your Child’s Dream Camp Getaway?
Now that you know the best seven tips for sending kids with food allergies to camp, you can feel more prepared and relaxed.
Here at Camp Experts, we understand that such fun, formative experiences shouldn’t be ruined by a food allergy scare. For more information on how our services can help match your child with their dream camp, read more about us.