Dear Mom, I love camp – Even with Allergies!
With extra precautions and additional planning, day camp, and even sleepaway camp, can be a safe, healthy reality for kids with allergies and asthma, as well as kids with food allergies.
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, ILL (February 24, 2015) – For every woman sitting in an office in mid-July wishing she was away at summer camp, there’s a kid with allergies or asthma, nervous that their symptoms might get in the way of enjoying a week or two away from home. They worry that canoeing, swimming, horseback riding and toasting s’mores might be interrupted by an allergic reaction or an asthma attack.
But with extra precautions and additional planning, day camp, and even sleepaway camp, can be a safe, healthy reality for kids with allergies and asthma, as well as kids with food allergies.
“Going to summer camp is a wonderful experience – something every kid who has asthma or allergies should be able to experience without worrying they might be in harm’s way,” said allergist Myron Zitt, MD, past president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “The key to enjoyment is advance planning, and making sure systems are in place to deal with an allergic response to an activity or a food trigger.”
ACAAI offers these tips for sending your child off to summer camp, and ensuring you all breathe easy while he or she is away.
Even in summer, do your homework – There are plenty of sleepaway camps just for kids with allergies and asthma – particularly kids who have food allergies. The camps are designed to keep campers who have food allergies safe – and help build their sense of independence while reinforcing self-esteem regarding their ability to spend time away from home. These camps remove certain allergens from their sites, have set procedures for life-threatening emergencies, and have medical personnel on location who are trained in administering epinephrine.
Belting out camp songs is more fun without asthma symptoms – When planning for sleepaway camp or day camp, knowing your child’s triggers for asthma is vital. Schedule a meeting with the person responsible for medical care and your child’s counselor well before the first day of camp to make them aware of your child’s medical needs. Have your child attend the meeting as well, so they are empowered to keep track of symptoms and triggers. Camps geared towards those with asthma and allergies know that smoke, for example, can be an asthma trigger, and that it’s best for kids with asthma to sing around something other than a campfire.
Summer fun closer to home – Even if it’s not a specialty sleepaway camp, most day camps have provisions in place to keep kids with allergies and asthma safe. They welcome discussions about what your child can and cannot eat, and what they need to have on hand in case of a severe allergic reaction, or an asthma attack. Make sure the camp you choose has dealt with allergies and asthma before, knows where the nearest hospital is and how to get there, and is aware of the specific needs of your child.
Whatever kind of camp you choose for your child, putting some precautions in place well before camp starts can help you can ensure a healthy, happy summer. Meet with your child’s allergist before your child goes to camp to make sure you’ve thought of all contingencies, and that a personalized plan has been created that you can share with camp personnel.
For more information about treatment of severe allergic reactions, as well as asthma, and to locate an allergist in your area, visit AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org.