Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Kids with Food Allergies and Summer Camp

Heavy snow, rain and overall weather misery in many parts of the country aside, spring is nearly here, which means summer is on the way. It's definitely not too early to be thinking about summer activities -- like camp. But what if your child, like mine, has life-threatening allergies to nuts or other foods?

If some of you are skeptical of the summer camp experience for your severely allergic child, I know how you feel. I summed up our family's experience in this archived Allergic Living magazine article where I discuss the ups and downs of my daughter's week at Girl Scout camp (she was seven years old at the time). The bottom line: it was a big success in spite of a few scares -- all non-allergy related!

For any parent contemplating camp, food allergy awareness must come into play. Some parents don't want to deal with camp and it's your call to make. You know your child better than anyone and what they are capable of handling.

That said, if you can find a camp that accommodates allergies, consider giving it a try (once you've done all of your research and feel confident, of course). I remember how excited my daughter was to attend Girl Scout camp. She still talks about it! In recent years, she has served as a volunteer at our local library and she has been an advocate for the younger allergic kids she encounters. I'm sure the positive role models and teen counselors she met at Girl Scout camp served as inspiration.

That's why I was so excited to hear about Camp Wingate-Kirkland, a nut-free camp in Cape Cod and one of my current blog sponsors. I first learned of this camp a couple of years ago when I was on a panel discussion (via the parenting website The Motherhood) with Lori Sandler of Divvies. Our group included Sandy Rubenstein, one of the owners/directors of Camp Wingate*Kirkland.

The online panel discussion dealt with specific actions to take in order to ensure the safety of food-allergic kids during play dates, sleepovers and summer camp. You can see a write-up of that very helpful and informative discussion by clicking this link.

I received this message regarding the camp's allergy policies: "Camp Wingate*Kirkland is food allergy-friendly and peanut-free. The training and precautions made by the camp staff allow your child to be a camper, not “the camper with allergies.”  For more info, click the "Camp Wingate*Kirkland" image on the right sidebar of this blog. It will take you directly to their web site; you can find their specific allergy policies there, too. Thanks to the directors of this camp for caring about nut-allergic and food-allergic campers!

Important Note:

For your child's health and safety, always speak directly to any and all camp directors for specific information on food allergy policies and accommodations. Please do your own research as you are the best judge of your family's specific situation and needs.

FARE has compiled a list of camps that advertise themselves as allergy-friendly; you can find the list for 2013 by clicking this link. Remember, things can change so please do your own research.

Have you found any local camps that will accommodate your food-allergic camper? How did it go?

1 comment:

A.D. Shainblum said...

This is fabulous information, Jenny. Thanks so much. Sending your kids to camp (especially sleep-away camp) can be so stressful for parents -- especially for those who have children with severe allergies. We need more allergy-aware camps. All kids deserve the opportunity to enjoy and experience summer camp.


A.D. Shainblum