Sending child to camp with a food allergy or asthma throws another wrench into the works. This coming week (May 12- 18) is National Food Allergy Awareness Week, and according to Food Allergy Research and Education, 1 in 13 kids is affected by food allergies. Additionally, May is the month for awareness of asthma, which affects 1 in 10 kids. If your child is one of them, there are some very important things to know before sending him or her off to camp.
1. Pick the right place. Activity Rocket is a great starting point for locating camps, but you should follow up with the camp to learn more about how they can accommodate your child’s needs. Some questions to ask:
- What are their food containment/food preparation policies?
- Are the facilities air-conditioned? How about the presence of asthma triggers such as pollen, molds, dust, etc.?
- Do they have experience with children with similar needs?
- How do they handle medical emergencies? Where is the nearest hospital?
If possible, it is wise to check the facility out firsthand. If not, seek recommendations from parents of other children with asthma/food allergies. If your child’s asthma or food allergies are more severe, you may opt for a camp specifically for children with allergies/asthma.
2. Inform the camp of your child’s needs. Let the camp personnel know the extent of your child’s allergies/asthma symptoms. Make your child’s counselors aware of the specific symptoms your child manifests when having an episode or adverse reaction. Most importantly, make sure you’ve develop an asthma or allergy action plan, and share it with camp staff. Access templates here (for asthma) and here (for food allergies).
3. Educate your camper. Make kids play an active role in their own health and safety. For kids with food allergies, make sure they know not to trade food with other campers or eat foods if they’re not sure of the ingredients. Teach them how to read a food label (if age appropriate) and identify potential allergens. For kids with asthma and allergies, tell them to be proactive if they feel a reaction or an asthma attack coming on so they can tell an adult. They should know to keep their inhaler or EpiPen on them at all times and how to use it if need be.
Whether preparing for your kid’s stint at sleep away or day camp, following these tips can help ensure a fun, safe summer for your child!