A natural rite of passage in childhood is attending summer camp. Whether it’s a day camp or a sleep-away camp, kids of all ages get to experience great activities and make lifetime friendships. But what about a child who has food allergies?
My daughter is 7 years old and we are looking for a summer program that she will enjoy and one that will be not only be accommodating to her multiple food allergies, but one that can keep her safe. I didn’t realize what a challenge it would be! Most camps have high school kids or, if you’re lucky, college kids as camp counselors. How versed are these kids in understanding food allergies, the consequences and nuances of each type of allergy and are observant enough to see a reaction and get the child treatment?
Being in Connecticut, we have hundreds of camps available with every themed activity you can think of. We started contacting ones we were interested in to inquire on their allergy policies.
Here is the email that I sent out….
We are considering your camp for our 7 year old daughter this summer. She does have several food allergies (peanut, soy, pear) as well as Asthma and we are concerned about the ability to accommodate her and keep her safe. Can you provide additional information on your camp and staff training on how you keep children with allergies safe?
Thank you and I look forward to hearing back from you.”
I have to be honest, I’ve gotten back some rather callous responses which have made me feel that they do what they can, but don’t really take it seriously. Not having a written plan or something in writing about how their staff is trained does not leave me with warm fuzzies. Here is a response from a rather expensive camp…
“Thanks for considering xxx Camp for your daughter. We have several campers each summer who have allergies and we do our best to keep them safe. We provide a peanut-free table at lunch where campers can sit and eat. Our nurse is at the table or nearby and always carries an EpiPen for any emergencies. If you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to contact me at (860) xxx-xxxx.”
“We do our best” is not a statement that sits well with me as I want them to do more than their best! Granted my daughter has never had a life threatening reaction, but allergies are unpredictable and I need to be able to trust these strangers who I’m giving charge of my most precious gift.
I received back several emails with that type of sentiment. So far I have been unable to find a summer camp in Connecticut that made me comfortable about accommodating my daughter with food allergies. I’m curious- what do working parents do during the summer? Do they sign their child up for the camp that has the best activities and hope that their child won’t have a reaction while at camp?
Why aren’t there more camps that cater to keeping our allergic kids safe? I know many parents in our local area that would gladly pay for a quality camp for their allergic child. Talk about a business opportunity! Any entrepreneurs paying attention?