Friday, March 27, 2015

Thinking about summer camp?

When you have kids and are trying to figure out summer plans in the late winter/early spring, you are sort of catapulted straight into summertime.  Living in a large city like Houston, fortunately, there are many options for summer camps.  With that said, the field is narrowed by food allergies.  There is a lot to consider when deciding to send your child to camp.  My husband and I did not grow up going to summer camp so this was new territory for us.  How do you know which camp is right when your child has food allergies?  The questions started flowing and my mind started roaming.  We decided that the camp had to be close to our home, not far from a hospital, a staff knowledgable and comfortable with food allergies/using an epi pen and a staff receptive to my questions (I always have ALOT)!

I am a planner and find comfort in checking off my checklists (I might be a bit OCD:)), I wanted to share my mini camp checklist.  Here are some questions to consider when planning a safe and fun summer camp experience for your child:

1.  What is your child into right now (ie. LEGO's, princesses, learning a foreign language, creative writing, art, sports, etc...).

2. Are you or your child interested in a full day or a half day of camp?  Will your child be eating a snack/lunch during their stay?

3. What is your budget?

4. Contact camp director to schedule a pre-camp meeting to discuss your child's food allergies and plan. This is a good time to bring your child's action plan with their picture attached and emergency kit(s) to review with nurse, counselor, etc.

5. Can the camp adequately meet your child's health needs?  Do you feel comfortable with the camp and the counselor?

6. Will the counselor carry the epi pens/emergency kit if child too young to carry epi pen?

7. Is there a nurse available during camp hours?

8. Prepare your child (age appropriate)---wear food allergy bracelet, label ALL food items, including drinks, do not share food, save all edible rewards from camp until a parent/guardian can double check the ingredients, wash hands before and after snack and meals.

Our son (allergic to tree nuts, peanuts, and sesame') has attended week long camps at the Houston Arboretum, Duchesne's Dash Into Summer, and KidVenture.  I know it is a small sample but it has been a good start.  We have many positive comments about all of these camps and their staff.

Below is some useful information regarding summer camps mentioned:

Houston Arboretum 2015 Nature Camps

Dash Into Summer/Duchesne Academy 
Sarah Baker--Director of DASH


Please share any camp experiences you may have.  Also, our April 2015 meeting will be brainstorming and planning Food Allergy Awareness Week/May 2015!  Hope to see you there!

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