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Make Summer Camp Plans Now for Kids with Allergies and Asthma

Make Summer Camp Plans Now for Kids with Allergies and Asthma

Five tips from ACAAI to keep allergic campers safe and happy

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (April 11, 2024) – If you have fond memories of days spent at summer camp when you were a kid, you probably weren’t the one making the arrangements for you to go. It takes a lot of preparation to get a child out the door to camp, so parents are already laying their plans for this summer. And if your child has either allergies or asthma – or both – you know that it’s especially important to gear up now to ensure a safe, happy summer experience.

“Kids with allergies and asthma need an extra layer of protection when they head off to summer camp,” says allergist Gailen Marshall, Jr., MD, PhD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “You want them to have as much fun as every other kid at camp, but in order to do that, certain systems need to be in place, and precautions must be taken to lock down a symptom-free experience.”

The following five ACAAI tips will help you and your camper have a fun-filled summer complete with fantastic memories.

  1. A specialty camp may be the right fit – If you are concerned that a regular sleepaway camp may not be fully prepared to handle your child’s allergies or asthma, consider a specialty camp. There are many camps that focus solely on kids with asthma, as well as camps that host kids with food allergies. They provide specialized medical staff who have worked with kids with allergic diseases and understand treatments. Talk with your allergist or do an internet search for camps in your area.
  2. Before you pack – If your child is on board for camp, plan a visit to the allergist. Make sure prescriptions for allergy meds and asthma inhalers are up to date, and that your child has a sufficient supply of epinephrine auto injectors if they suffer from food allergies or have severe allergic reactions to insect stings. If your child has grown during the school year, make sure their prescriptions are the appropriate dose for their height and weight. Double-check expiration dates on existing supplies.
  3. Counsel the counselors? – No one knows your child like you do, so whether they are attending sleepaway camp or day camp, their counselors need to be briefed on how to handle possible medical emergencies. Every staff member your child encounters should know how to store and use an epinephrine auto injector, or an asthma inhaler. They also need to know when to call 911, where the nearest hospital is, and the quickest route there. If your child is attending sleepaway camp, they should have access to their medication and know how to use it.
  4. More than just s’mores – One thing your camper is likely to remember about camp is the food – especially if it’s particularly good. (Some camps even have notable chefs running their kitchens.) But if your child has a food allergy, making sure the camp administrators and the kitchen staff are aware is vital. You’ll want to confirm there are no areas of the kitchen where cross contamination can occur and that your child is comfortable alerting people to their allergy. If your child is attending day camp, sending a bag lunch is best so you can guarantee he or she will be eating safe foods. Remind them that eating other kids’ food is never ok.
  5. Itching and scratching equals no fun – Anyone who has ever had a run-in with poison ivy or other similar plant can tell you the resulting rash can make you miserable. The rash that comes from plants like poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac is a form of allergic contact dermatitis and is very uncomfortable. But you can take comfort in knowing that most people don’t have a severe allergic reaction resulting in anaphylaxis. You can send along calamine lotion with your camper, but they’ll probably need a trip to the camp nurse or doctor if they have a reaction.

If your child suffers from uncontrolled allergy or asthma symptoms, find an allergist in your area. Allergists are the best trained professionals to help your child live their best life, free of wheezing and sneezing. To locate an allergist in your area, visit

ACAAI is a professional medical organization of more than 6,000 allergists-immunologists and allied health professionals, headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill. The College fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy, and research. ACAAI allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer immunotherapy, and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes. For more information and to find relief, visit Join us on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram  and Twitter/X.

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