Summer Camp and Allergies

By Heather Legg

Well, another school year is almost over. You wrote your letters, informed your teachers, supplied your allergy free treats and made it through. It’s almost summer, and well, time for summer camp. Here we go again, time to write the letters, inform the counselors, and supply those allergy free treats. And what about those going to overnight camp? There’s even more to think about!

Here are some helpful tips for you and your children to feel confident while they are enjoying fun filled camp days.

• Just like you do at school, inform, inform, inform. Hand deliver letters to counselors and directors at camp. Make sure you discuss with them face to face your child’s allergy and your expectations. Make them aware of symptoms, precautions, treatment and severity.
• Find out if there is a camp nurse or doctor (usually at over night, not always at day camp). Discuss your child’s allergies with her. Find out how close the nearest emergency facility is.
• Decide who will keep medication. With camp, the campers are usually all over the place so it may be better for your child or counselor to keep medication in a back pack as opposed to a central location. Perhaps both is an option.
• If your child is going away to camp, discuss with the dining hall your food options. Make sure they understand the severity of your child’s allergy. Send plenty of allergy safe snacks and send care packages if you think your child will run out.
• If your child has an insect allergy, take the same precautions with informing counselors, nurse and directors. Make sure medicine is available and in reach at all times. Let personnel know that your child shouldn’t play around trash cans or places where bees or ants may be.
• With seasonal allergies or environmental, like mold, make sure the camp is aware of daily medications and will either help your child or let him be responsible by keeping it with him. All camps probably have medication policies due to the high number of kids taking regular meds.
• If it is an environmental allergy, take precautions like sending an allergy proof encased pillow and mattress cover. Make sure you thoroughly clean sleeping bags and any gear that may have accumulated mold.
• Discuss with your doctor and camp directors if your child is taking allergy shots. The camp may or may not be able to administer these and you may need to decide what to do if there is going to be a break in the shot schedule.
• If your child is allergic to animals, it may be wise to keep them off of horses or away from camp animals depending on the severity. They can probably double up another activity during this time.
• Leave your emergency numbers. Even if it’s just a few morning hours, you will feel better if you know they can get in touch with you.

I know this sounds like a lot of information, but it covers a lot of different allergies: food, environmental, insect and animal. The best thing to do is decide on a few camps of interest and narrow it down after talking with directors to get a feel for their policies and attitudes towards allergies. With day camps you won’t encounter as many issues since your child won’t be “going away.” But camp is a great experience, you can always find a way to manage and let your child have this experience at the same time.

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