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12 Summer Camp Planning Tips

April 2013

Make summer camp safe for your food-allergic child

Start planning early for summer camps
Early planning allows your food-allergic child to safely attend summer camp.
Do you remember the first time you paddled a canoe, poured your energy into an artistic masterpiece or took the lead in a play? If you're like countless others, these memories likely stem from summer camp. Not just fun and games, summer camp is a place to step outside one's comfort zone, meet lifelong friends and learn life skills too.

Millions of children attend summer camp each year. And so can your child—even if he/she happens to have a food allergy (or two or three).  Reach out to different camps prior to your child attending. Ensure that the director welcomes your child's needs. Proactively educate and prepare the camp staff for your child. And don't forget to assess your child's comfort level. Proper research and planning can yield a lifetime of positive memories.

Here are some tips to ensure your child has a successful—and safe—summer camp experience offered by Jill Tipograph, CEO/Founder of Everything Summer®:

  • Determine whether the camp offers the food to which your child is allergic and, if so, whether it has a containment policy.
  • While researching camps, ask about food preparation, storage and cleaning policies to determine safest environment. Be sure to speak with the food services manager and review menus. Do they read ingredients with each food shipment?
  • Obtain references from parents of food-allergic kids to understand how the camp handles things from a preventive and medical perspective.
  • Ask if food accommodations are allowed, such as shipping up safe foods.
  • Describe to the camp the allergic symptoms your child typically manifests.
  • Inquire if all staff is trained and educated in food allergy symptoms and treatment; do staff survey camp to check up on food allergic kids?
  • Find out if campers are informed of kids with food allergies.
  • Once you have chosen a suitable camp, ensure it can handle medical emergencies; review its communications policies (e.g. cell/satellite phones, walkie talkies); know where the nearest hospital is located.
Start planning early for summer camps
  • Allergic children need an allergy action plan and to have access to an epinephrine autoinjector such as EpiPen®,  Auv-Q® or other allergy medications. Identify who, besides the camp nurse, can administer it (including bus personnel). Ask if your child is allowed and old enough to carry/administer an EpiPen® or  Auv-Q® autoinjector.  Parents, staff and child should be informed where the pens are located, including buses.
  • Check if the camp supplies hand wipes for kids to use when exiting the dining hall or any facility with food. These perform double duty, reducing the spread of allergens and illnesses.  Keep in mind that hand sanitizers do not remove allergens and should not be used in place of hand washing or hand wipes.
  • Be aware of the camp food policies for transportation (including buses/parties), packages, visiting days, off premise facilities/camps being visited, and staff when off duty. Is a safe food guidelines communication sent to parents pre-camp?
  • If your child is attending a teen program, be vigilant about food allergy policies and discuss with your child ahead of time since independence is expected.

Related Resources:
Summer Camp Checklist for Kids with Food Allergies or Asthma

Camping with Food Allergies can be Safe and Fun

Jill Tipograph is the author of Your Everything Summer Guide & Planner; the 2010 edition has a chapter on managing food allergies at camp. She is CEO/Founder of Everything Summer®, the premier camp, teen and family resource. For more information, visit Her company guides families to the right camp and summer experiences for their children and teens, including those with food allergies.

Approved by KFA's Medical Advisory Team January 2010.Updated April 2013.

Kids With Food Allergies is a nonprofit charity. More than 80% of KFA's financial support comes from donors like you. If KFA has helped you in some way, please make a donation to support our work.

Page last updated 7/29/2012

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