Preparing Your Kids for Allergies at Camp

By

Susan Fishman

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Sending your kid off to camp can be one of the most exciting times of his life (and yours!), but it can also be a little nerve-wracking, especially when allergies are involved. Will he know what to do to get relief? Will they be able to help him in case of an emergency? Can he even go? The answer is YES! With a little preparation and planning, your child can have a normal camp experience … and a “totally awesome” summer.

The Team Approach

Since camp is a change from your child’s normal routine, it’s helpful to identify the things that may come up and pose a potential issue. A visit to the doctor or allergist may be a good idea to check on your child’s allergy status (and some camps require an updated physical form).

Anaphylaxis can be frightening, but being prepared will help you feel empowered to prevent a dangerous allergic reaction. Do you know all the facts?

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Nov 6, 2015

2016 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

Before camp begins, talk to the camp director, supervisors and counselors about the camp environment and your child’s particular triggers, and provide written instructions in case of an emergency. Be sure your child understands these things, also. If he has a severe allergy, he may need an EpiPen (an epinephrine autoinjector) or other medications, such as antihistamines or inhalers. Include these instructions for the team, as well.

Pollen Allergy

If pollen is your child’s nemesis, camp is sure to come with plenty of it. Grass pollen is at its peak between May and June, depending on the location, and some flowers can pose an issue for kids who are sensitive to pollen. Even if your child has never had seasonal allergies, they can strike at almost any time, though they usually develop by age 10. But before you pack the antihistamines and nasal sprays, talk to an allergist to make sure you have the right treatment and dosage.

Mold is another potential trigger at camp, as well as poison ivy and poison oak, which can show up several days after you come in contact with it.

Food Allergy

When camp time rolls around, it’s a great time to review your kid’s food allergy action plan (or make one) and bring it up to date. Be sure to give the camp a copy (and one for your child to keep with him) and talk to the staff about their food policies. Allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, fish and shellfish are the most common food triggers for anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that may involve the whole body. Be sure the staff and other campers understand how serious an exposure can be and has a plan in place should an anaphylactic reaction occur. 

Insect Allergy

Fire ants, bees, wasps and yellow jackets … oh my! It wouldn’t be summer camp without them. But they don’t have to pose a threat. If your child is particularly allergic, or even if you’re not sure, talk to the camp staff about how they handle sting incidents. Be sure there is always an emergency phone on hand when they might occur. It’s also helpful to have your child avoid brightly colored clothing and perfume, which can attract the pesky biters.

Asthma

If your child has asthma, you may be particularly concerned about his well-being at camp. Talk to his doctor about your concerns and develop an asthma action plan together. Review this with the camp supervisors and with your child. For kids who may be more limited, there are  asthma camp opportunities to allow them to better manage their condition while still giving them the traditional summer camp experience.

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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd, III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Jul 2, 2015

© 2016 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

View Sources

Medical References

  1. Allergies. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. http://acaai.org/allergies
  2. The Ugly Truth About Summer Allergies. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. http://acaai.org/news/ugly-truth-about-summer-allergies
  3. Medical experts warn summer poses special risk for kids with life-threatening food allergies. American Lung Association. http://www.lung.org/associations/states/florida/news/press-releases/medical-experts-warn-summer.html...
  4. Asthma Camp. American Lung Association. http://www.lung.org/associations/states/georgia/educational-programs/asthma-camp/asthma-camp.html

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