Finding The Right Summer Camp For Your Food-Allergic Child

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Finding The Right Summer Camp For Your Food-Allergic Child

3 May 2022
 Categories: , Blog

Sending kids off to summer camps can be highly stressful for parents when kids have to navigate food allergies on their own. Emergency action plans, epinephrine, pediatrician contact and hospital information must be worked out ahead of time in order for children to have a seamless camp experience without fear of eating the wrong food and without cross-contamination worries.

Choosing the Right Camp

Finding a summer camp that caters specifically to kids with life-threatening food allergies isn't easy. Here are some questions that need answered before choosing a summer camp for your child:

  • What kind of credentials does the medical staff have? Is it a volunteer nurse or a medic who is well versed in emergency action plans and who know how to properly use epinephrine in case of food allergy exposure?
  • Is emergency epinephrine kept on site or taken with camp counselors on field trips in temperature-controlled containers? Do camp counselors know how to administer epinephrine?
  • If epinephrine is administered, what provisions to get a child to a nearby hospital are in place? Kids will have to spend at least 4 hours in the emergency room being watched for a second reaction.
  • Are camp counselors or camp medical personnel ready to handle the anxiety of a child returning to camp after a food allergy reaction experience?
  • How will food personnel mitigate exposure to the top 8 allergens as well as specialized food allergies not listed in the top 8 most common allergens?

If you find a camp that answers these questions to your satisfaction, then you need to educate your child about the camp and about navigating their food allergy on their own.

Be A Pal: Educate Your Child

It's tough to educate kids how to be food-allergy aware, especially if they are younger. Most parents have had to instruct their children about what foods that they are allergic to already for schooling purposes. But camp life can be less structured with other kids bringing unsafe foods from home. So you need to make sure that your child can tell others about specific food allergens as well as how to recognize exposure symptoms. The Be A Pal program helps educate other children about food allergies.

Teach Your Child to Use Epinephrine

Kids need to understand that epinephrine can save them if they are having an anaphylactic reaction to their allergens. Teaching kids how to recognize that they need epinephrine and how to use it may seem scary. But it is necessary so that kids who self carry can administer the shot themselves.

The bottom line is to find a summer camp that deals with food allergies and how to mitigate exposure, and then teach your child self-advocacy.

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