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Allergies and Asthma Are Bigger Summer Camp Challenges Than Homesickness

May 17, 2018 by  
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Allergies and Asthma Are Bigger Summer Camp Challenges Than Homesickness

What to consider when choosing a camp


By Sonal R. Patel, M.D., M.S.


The biggest worry for some kids as they head off to summer camp is whether their iPad will get a connection in the North Woods. Others have far graver concerns, including nasal allergies, asthma and food allergies. Parents of kids with these conditions have to do homework to determine the best camp fit for their child. The goal is to keep kids safe while allowing them to have fun and create memories.


Finding the right camp for your child with allergies or asthma can seem daunting, depending on how serious your child’s symptoms are. The good news is that more camps understand how to keep a child with allergies or asthma safe and make sure they have the right protections in place. It’s important to be specific about your child’s needs and to search for a camp that’s a good fit.


Following are some guidelines for finding the right summer camp for your child with allergies or asthma.


Make sure all hands are on deck. Whether children are attending day camp or sleepaway camp, a key component to keeping them safe is ensuring the staff is knowledgeable on handling potential medical emergencies. It’s not enough for the camp director to understand how to store and use an epinephrine auto injector or an asthma inhaler. The staff needs to be trained in what to do when a severe allergic reaction or asthma emergency occurs, and how to help children properly use their devices. They also need to know when to call 911, where the nearest hospital is, and the quickest route there.


Send along more than clean undies. If your child uses medications for her nasal allergies or asthma, or if she carries an epinephrine auto injector for severe allergic reactions, visit the allergist before she leaves. Make sure her prescriptions are the appropriate dose for her height and weight and are up-to-date. Then send along a sufficient supply of her medications, including a spare. Double-check expiration dates on existing supplies.


Go ahead and mess with the mess hall. Food is a big part of any camp experience, particularly sleepaway camp. If your child has a food allergy, communicate with the kitchen staff to make sure no areas exist where cross-contamination can occur. Find out how the camp communicates and monitors food allergy information and determine whether that works for you and your child. If your child will be attending day camp, sending a bag lunch is probably best because you can guarantee he or she will be eating safe foods. Remind your child that eating other kids’ food isn’t okay.


Going to camp to make new friends and have fun is something kids enjoy and remember for many years. But more importantly for kids with asthma and allergies, going to camp can provide an opportunity to spread their wings and have some independence. It’s a way to prove to themselves, and to you, that they’re capable of handling their health challenges on their own.


All children with asthma or allergies who go to camp need an emergency health plan in place with the head of the camp, with the camp medical personnel, and with their counselor. For more information about the treatment of severe allergic reactions and asthma, and to locate an allergist in your area, visit AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org.


About the Author

Dr. Patel is a mom of twin daughters and a physician who specializes in pediatric/adult allergy and immunology with Adventist Health Physicians Network. She is also coauthor of the forthcoming Mommy MD Guide to Twins, Triplets, and More.




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The information on MommyMDGuides.com is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, and services of a physician. Always consult your physician or child care expert if you have any questions concerning your family's health. For severe or life-threatening conditions, seek immediate medical attention.