Webinar: Taking Food Allergies to Camp

A pre-recorded June 5, 2019 FARE webinar, Taking Food Allergies to Camp, tackles the complexities and joys of creating safe, inclusive opportunities for children with food allergies to attend summer camp. To present the webinar, FARE National Director of Training Gina Clowes was joined by two leaders in allergy-friendly camping: Eleanor Garrow-Holding, CEO of the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team (FAACT), whose Camp TAG (The Allergy Gang) program hosts summer day camps in various locations for children with food allergies and their siblings; and Sandy Rubenstein, owner of Camp Wingate*Kirkland, an allergy-friendly coed residential summer camp in Yarmouth Port, MA.

 

The webinar opens with time-tested advice from Gina, an experienced food allergy mom and coach. Appropriate accommodations for children vary according to age, maturity level, allergen(s) and reaction history, so Gina encourages parents to first examine their child’s individual needs before evaluating camps. Noting that spoken and written assurances aren’t enough to ensure safety, she recommends learning how camps execute daily activities and manage emergencies. Topics to investigate include:

  • each step of food production, from purchasing and label reading to storage, preparation, serving and leftovers
  • circumstances and substances that can trigger allergic reactions, such as latex, insect venoms, campfire smoke, cold, heat and exercise
  • food exposures through crafts and play materials
  • staff training to recognize and respond to anaphylaxis and follow a child’s Emergency Action Plan
  • procedures for carrying, storing and using epinephrine
  • availability of adult supervisors during daytime and nighttime hours
  • access to emergency services, including whether local first responders carry epinephrine

During the second half of the webinar, Eleanor and Sandy field frequently asked questions about managing food allergies at their summer camps. Camp TAG and Camp Wingate*Kirkland differ significantly in operations – day vs. overnight, allergy families vs. general public, bring your own allergy-friendly foods vs. peanut-, tree nut- and sesame-free food service that can accommodate a wide range of additional allergens. The details of how each camp approaches safety and inclusion are informative and inspiring. The questions and answers address anaphylaxis training, epinephrine policies, medical staffing, proximity to emergency care, emergency care plans, day trips, accommodations, meals and food safety, care packages, and approaches to activities, values and fun.

To learn more about living with food allergies at camp, click here. FARE does not certify, review, or accredit camps .Parents should complete a thorough and independent review of a camp’s practices and procedures to ensure their safety and capacity to accommodate a child with food allergies.