When I was a kid, my summer days usually consisted of riding bikes, running through the sprinkler in my underwear and mischief I won’t mention in case my kids ever read this. Nowadays, summer camps are the thing. And it’s not all KumBa Ya. A kid today can go to camp for everything from soccer to pottery to fashion. Which is great because camp is a great opportunity for kids to make new friends and explore interests they might not have time to during the school year.
But when you’re a food allergy family, summer camp presents some challenges. As a parent, how do you keep them safe when they’re away from home?
Just like we talk about at back-to-school time, communication is key.
Talk to the camp officials before you even register your child to ensure that they have what you need – a heathcare professional on site; places to store special allergen-free snacks, supplements or medical foods, medical supplies; a good attitude and willingness to understand your child’s condition/needs, etc.
Talk to a trusted friend (well, actually the trusted parents of your child’s trusted friend) about camp plans. If they have similar interests and both would like to go to the same camp, having a reliable buddy system can give you and your child some valuable peace of mind.
Talk to your child, encouraging him/her to have a fun new experience but making sure he/she knows how to protect himself from exposure to an allergen. And make sure he/she takes that EpiPen® everywhere – out on the soccer field, up in the mountains or at the potter’s wheel.
- Talk to the counselor when you drop off your little one and go over all the details with him/her one last time before you leave. Don’t worry about looking like an overprotective Mom or Dad – this is important.
Oh, and when they get home, bring out the garden hose. ‘Cause camp is cool, but running around in the back yard in your bathing suit is still fun.