Prepping for Summer Camp When Your Child Has Food Allergies

Summer camp is a perfect way to broaden your child’s world. But when your child has allergies and you’re sending them into an unfamiliar environment, you’re never sure what to expect. Follow these tips to keep your child safe while they’re away!

Common Food Allergies at Summer Camp

If your child is old enough to go to summer camp, you’re probably familiar with their food allergies. The most common among children are:

  • Peanuts
  • Soy
  • Milk
  • Tree nuts
  • Wheat
  • Eggs

Most of these foods are packed with energy and are healthy for non-allergic kids, so it’s likely counselors may prepare meals containing these… unless they’ve been warned.

Preparing Your Child

Before your child leaves, make sure they understand their allergies. They should know exactly what they’re allergic to and where they might encounter these foods. Make sure your child knows they’re allowed to say no to a given meal or ask for an alternative. Your child should also know the signs of exposure, so they can seek an adult as soon as possible.

Of course, kids may forget or not think of these things, and if a child is very young, this may go over their head. While it’s good to make sure your child knows how to choose food and set boundaries, you should make sure to consult with camp staff.

Making an Allergy Plan

Some summer camps may have plans in place for common food allergens — for instance, a no-peanut policy. But even if this is the case, you should still contact camp staff, preferably before you register your child, and let them know what’s up.

Be sure to clarify the exact nature of your child’s allergy. What foods should they not have? Is this a comparatively mild allergy, where they just shouldn’t eat the food, or can exposure alone set off anaphylactic shock?

Be sure to educate the camp staff about signs to look out for, such as itching, hives or trouble with breathing. Work with them to create a plan for if your child is exposed, such as emergency administration of an EpiPen or even transportation to the hospital if the allergy is life-threatening. The camp counselors should already have your phone number and other contact information, but remind them to get in touch with you if they have any questions.

Sending a child with food allergies off to an uncontrolled environment, like a summer camp, can be frightening. But with a little planning, you’ll both be fine. And if you have any questions or concerns, Dr. Andrew Lozano at San Jose Allergy & Asthma Center is happy to work with you to assure your child’s well-being.

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