I recently attended a local Asthma Allergy Foundation of America seminar on Choosing a Summer Camp when dealing with food allergies and asthma. Tonight I will be the guest speaker at the local AAFA support group and will be presenting the following tips and information.
If you can, start your search a year in advance
This might seem crazy, but it will give you a chance to thoroughly research the camps available and put a plan in place for your food allergic child.
Consider an ACA accredited camp
Only 30% of camps are accredited. The benefit is that these camps are professionally reviewed and expected to meet certain standards. Visit www.acacamps.org to learn more or find a camp near you.
Do your homework
What type of camp do you want?
-Over night camp
-Art camp, sports camp, etc.
What are your and your child’s expectations?
Do You Research
-Research camps online
-Go to camp fairs
-Go to camp open houses
Draft a list of questions and speak to the camp director
-Do you have experience with campers with food allergies?
-Who is the primary health care person and what are their credentials?
-Is there are a nurse on the premises at all times?
-How far is the nearest medical facility?
-What is the transportation to nearest medical facility?
-Where will medications be kept/who will carry them?
-Who is trained to give medications?
-What are the medical procedures in and OUT of camp?
-Emergency communication rules: are cell phones allowed? etc.
-What is the camper to staff ratio?
-How will staff be notified about situations or reactions?
-References-preferably from a family with allergies.
When you’ve chosen your camp
-Educate your child about management and self advocacy.
-Fill out all camp paperwork in advance and be sure to mention food allergies.
-Bring a written action plan provided by your allergist.
-Speak with camp director, medical staff and chef.
-Provide labeled and up to date medication.
Things to remember and to think about
-Consider bringing your own food and snacks.
-Find out if there are any food related activities or events like craft projects etc.
(You’d be surprised at what you learn.)
-Consider hiring a camp/trip consultant to help you research and choose a camp.
-Keep in mind that peanut free has many definitions and is not a guarantee.
Not all peanut safe camps are the same.
-Remember that unexpected things will happen no matter how much you plan.
Other Camp Related Resources
FAAN Camp Guidelines
Allergic Living Magazine Camp List
AAFA Resource for Camp Staff on Preventing Anaphylaxis