by Candice Minch
The camp experience for kids is so exciting and so scary for both kids and their parents! Imagine the thought of a new and totally unfamiliar environment with children and food / environmental allergies added to the equation!!
Even children with no allergies and their parents will have their share of fears and doubts…. Non-the-less, with the proper checklist, the camp experience can be exciting and stress-free for everyone!
Here is a checklist to ensure that all necessary measures have been put into place for a safe and memorable camping experience:
- Camp meets provincial/national guidelines. Accreditation will ensure critical standards, including accommodations, equipment, staff qualifications & reputation are met;
- Established operation, number of years in operation with experience and reputation.
- “Allergy-friendly” foods and preparation;
- Hospital accessibility – is there a medical facility less than one hour away?
- Staff qualifications including training in emergency and medical health, youth activities/education;
- Staff qualified for handling food allergies and are able to avoid, recognize and respond to allergic reactions;
- Written policy for the management of food allergies along with guidelines to ensure safety is taken care of in food preparation, food offered and seating arrangements for eating;
- Staff knowledge of EpiPen and proper administering in case of severe allergic reaction;
- Contact with management of camp to go over the critical needs and the ability of the camp to meet these requirements;
- If possible, a visit and meeting with camp management can take place to ensure that all necessities are in place.
Our family has always been well aware of the potential obstacles to adventures that take us away from the safe and well-planned life that we enjoy. There have been times when safety and adequate measures have not been present. However, there are always alternative plans to provide an exciting and safe outing. Adventures, such as a camp remind everyone that a new environment can make for fun activities and an enriching learning experience when needed safety measures are in place.
Candice Minch is a food allergy blogger and health and wellness coach. Her blog, www.allergyexplosion.com grew out of the reality and the challenges faced by her own family and her children with food sensitivities, one of whom has a serious food and peanut allergy. As an advocate for those with food sensitivities, her goal is to empower and be the go-to-person for the real life experiences faced by people with allergies. Her ongoing research and information gathering on severe food allergies evolved from her “previous life” as an analyst in the justice system for 15 years.