Summer Camp When Your Child Has Allergies or Asthma – Preparation is Key
With summer camps opening up again for Summer 2021, young people across the U.S. will again have a chance to get away, try something new, and make new friends. There are some 7,000 overnight camps and another 5,000 day camps in the U.S., according to the American Camp Association. More than six million young people head off to camp each summer.
When a child has allergies or asthma, the thought of sending them off to camp can be frightening for families. There are a growing number of camps focused on children with asthma, or children who have to deal with food allergies, reports the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI). Parents might consider these as an option. Day camps are another option, especially for younger campers. “Make sure the camp you choose has dealt with allergies and asthma before, knows where the nearest hospital is and how to get there, and is aware of the specific needs of your child,” ACAAI says.(1)
For parents of a child with a food allergy, Allergic Living recommends contacting the director of any potential camp to get a feel for how prepared the camp is to deal with an allergic reaction. Some questions that may be helpful include:
Is there a written policy and practiced emergency procedure for food allergies?
Is there a nurse or other medical professional of staff?
How far is the nearest medical facility?
What kind of food allergy training does the staff receive?
Where are the epinephrine auto-injectors kept? (while kids should self-carry, it is important the camp also stocks epinephrine)(2)
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America advises that medication forms sent with the camper also include a detailed treatment plan. Parents are urged to clarify beforehand camp policies regarding the administration of medication.(3) For campers with a stinging insect allergy, the camp should have epinephrine auto-injectors readily available, and also eliminate unnecessary exposure, such as activities during picnics or near garbage cans.(3)
(1)American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, Which Type of Summer Camp Should You Choose For Your Child With Allergies or Asthma? https://acaai.org/news/
(2)Clowes, G. Allergic Living, Advice on Attending Summer Camp With Allergies, https://www.allergicliving.com/
(3)Twarog, F. M.D., Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Summer Camp Tips, https://asthmaandallergies.org/