Researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies. According to Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), food allergies affect 1 in every 13 children under the age of 18 in the United States, which accounts for roughly two children in every classroom. But as the summer unfolds, children and their parents are thinking less about the classroom and more about recreational activities.
Each year more than 8 million children in the US attend summer camp, according to the American Camp Association. With food allergy diagnoses on the rise in children, it’s important to take proper precautions before sending them off to tell tales around the campfire.
Here are our tips for planning ahead to make summer camp safe for children with food allergies.
Choose the right camp
Deciding what camp to send your child to is an important first step. Decide if you will send your child to a regular camp, or if a camp that specializes in food allergies is a better fit. Be sure to learn important details before making your decision, such as how the camp monitors food allergies, who the camp’s healthcare professional is and their credentials, how far the camp is from medical treatment centers, and if the camp is limited in any way when it comes to dealing with food allergies.
Notify the camp about your child’s allergy
After you and your child have chosen the right camp for you, notify them about your child’s food allergy when you register with them. Be sure the camp is aware of what foods your child is allergic to and the symptoms of your child’s reaction. Also check with the camp that personnel are instructed on how to deal with a child with a food allergy.
Educate your child on the self-management of their allergy
Before your child leaves home, review their Allergy Action Plan with them. Don’t forget to review camp-specific safety tips with them, such as never sharing food with other campers, read food labels and check with counselors or dining hall staff, avoid foods with unknown ingredients, and to be proactive by telling an adult if a reaction does begin to occur.
Food allergies may not be the only worry for parents sending their children to summer camp. Non-food related allergies, such as pollen induced allergies and asthma, might be of concern to some parents. In these cases, many of the same rules apply. It is important to plan ahead, stock up on medications, and properly educate your child to ensure a happy and safe summer camp experience.
Do you have questions or concerns about managing your child’s allergy at summer camp, or about creating an Allergy Action Plan? Get in touch! Or, if you’re looking for an allergist, we’d love to meet you. We can be reached at 212-729-1283 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.