May 5, 2021
Make sure the camp you choose has precautions in place to keep your allergic camper safe
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (May 5, 2021) – If last summer you had to forgo summer camp for your child with allergies or asthma due to COVID-19 restrictions, know that the CDC just released guidelines to help protect campers from COVID-19. But what about keeping your child safe from allergy and asthma triggers?
“Parents of kids with allergies and asthma have lots to think about this summer as they consider summer camp,” says allergist Luz Fonacier, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “The CDC has issued guidelines for keeping campers and staff protected from COVID-19. At the same time, camps still need to make sure measures are in place in case a camper has an allergic reaction or an asthma flare.”
Below are five suggestions from ACAAI on how to keep your camper healthy this summer as they head off to the great outdoors, either miles away from home or at the park down the street.
- All COVID-19 prevention measures should still be in place – Because most young campers likely will not yet be vaccinated, the CDC recommends that even if all camp employees are vaccinated, camps should continue prevention measures, including wearing masks and practicing physical distancing. The CDC also recommends that all camps – whether day camps or overnight camps – have adequate supplies for sanitizing. The guidelines mention symptom monitoring, and suggest parents and guardians monitor their children for symptoms before going to camp. Check out the CDC’s summer camp guidance for more information.
- Plan a trip to the allergist before camp starts – Whether day camp or overnight camp, your child with allergies or asthma will need to make sure they’ve been checked over before they go. Your allergist can offer tips on communicating with camp personnel about your child’s triggers, medications and specific allergy or asthma treatments. They should confirm prescriptions are up to date, symptoms are under control and dosing hasn’t changed over the school year. They can also provide a personalized plan for you to share with the camp to help your child have the great experience they deserve.
- Good grub? – If your child has food allergies you will need to communicate with camp personnel before camp starts and your child will need to be on the lookout for allergens. Talk with the kitchen staff in advance about how they handle the possibility of cross contamination and let counselors and medical staff know the foods that will cause an allergic reaction. Your camper should tell friends about their food allergy so that if a reaction happens, their friends will be prepared to help. Does your child carry their epinephrine auto injector (EAI), and a spare? Make sure their EAI is working and that they have enough on hand to cover an emergency.
- Is a specialty camp in order? – There are plenty of sleepaway camps tailored to kids with allergic conditions – particularly kids who have asthma, and those with food allergies. These camps provide specialized medical staff and personnel who understand how to treat allergies and asthma and how to administer epinephrine. An internet search should turn up a camp in your area that can provide the special focus your camper might need.
- Watch out for that…leaf! – As your child communes with nature, you don’t want them communing with poison ivy or poison oak, which can cause awful rashes. The rashes are even worse if your child has an allergy. Calamine lotion sent along in their duffel may help, but an allergic reaction will probably mean a trip to the camp nurse or doctor. If the rash is widespread or results in many blisters, your child may be prescribed an oral corticosteroid. If a bacterial infection develops at the rash site, an oral antibiotic might be necessary.
To guarantee a great summer for your child, do some advance planning to make sure the camp you select can meet medical needs while allowing for a great camping experience. To find an allergist in your area, use the ACAAI allergist locator.