That crazy leprechaun just paid us a visit, which is my sign to start thinking summer camps. I don't know if where you live is like here, but summer camps book up and they book up quickly! My girls have a few on their short-list and we need to move as fast as that leprechaun to secure our spots. And, with food allergies it is even more important that I am researching and planning our summer camps early to ensure we not only have a fun, but safe summer.
I am sure some of you are ready to click on to the next screen thinking my kid has food allergies, there is no way I would send them to a camp. But hang tight, before you leave, know that I was that mom a few years ago. The thought of sending my food allergic daughter to camp was so stressful I would break out into a sweat just thinking about it! But, as with all hurdles we have faced with food allergies, I knew there had to be a way to give her that fun summer camp experience but still keep her safe...and me sane. Yes it takes a little more work....but it is worth it. Your kiddo gets to have fun and you may just get a much needed break or coverage for all of those long summer hours!
Now is the time to start doing your research. Yes, this takes time but your research will yield a list of camps that might work for your family.
Start the Conversation
Start by talking to your child about the camps they are interested in. You may find they have interests or concerns that you did not anticipate. A few years ago some of my daughter's friends attended an over night camp for the first time. She had no interest in even going to an overnight camp so that answered all of my questions....moving on to the next camp.
Once you know their interests let them know you need to do some research into available camps. It may be a good idea to find a few camps in their interest area (for example if basketball is their thing, find a few camp options that way if one proves unsafe you will still have another option to explore).
If you live in the Louisville area, check out the awesome list of summer camps by Louisville Family Fun to start your research. Other cities have similar lists that you can reference to start to review camp options and talk to your kiddos about their interests.
And, did you know? There are a number of camps across the US that cater to food allergic campers- talk about knowing how to deal with food allergies at camp!! Camp TAG hosted by FAACT is one great option for a food allergy focussed camp, and you can also check out this great list by FARE of other food allergy friendly camps.
Get In Touch
Once you have your short list of camps, websites are a great place to start. Some camps have FAQs or even pages dedicated to the topic of food allergies and how they are handled at camp. In fact, these are camps you probably want to keep on your short list. But, the research doesn't end there. Once you have an idea of the camps your kiddo is interested in it is time to get on the phone....yes call someone. Don't email, don't text...call. Why? Because you can tell a lot about a camp by the way their staff answers your questions. You will be able to tell if they get it, if they have had experience dealing with food allergic campers, and if they are together enough to get you the answers that you need.
Some questions to consider asking:
- How do you manage food allergies at camp?
- What are your food allergy policies?
- Have you had food allergic campers in the past? If so, what allergens did they manage?
- Have you ever had a food allergy reaction at camp?
- What are your policies for brining food to camp?
- Is your staff trained in food allergy management and emergency response?
- Do you have a nurse on the camp staff? If so, is he/she onsite the entire camp?
- Are staff trained to administer epinephrine? If so, which staff members are trained?
- Are you open to partnering with food allergic families to keep camp safe?
- Would you be willing to connect me to other food allergy families that have been to your camp so I could discuss their experience?
Need help living your best life with food allergies? I can help you Thrive On!
Learn more about me and my company, Thrive On Consulting, which provides food allergy coaching and training. You can also follow me on Facebook for tips to Thrive On with food allergies.
Thrive On Consulting was not paid to promote these products or places. Products mentioned here are provided as ideas and suggestions to help you Thrive On with food allergies.