May 23, 2012

Are You Prepared for Day Camp?

We live in San Francisco.  And like snagging a decent parking space or getting into a reputable preschool for your tot, finding and enrolling in a camp that works with your kids' busy schedule can be tough.  Crazy, right?  And yes, I've had all three kids scheduled in camps from ballet and basketball camp to baseball and art camp for the entire summer since February.

Now it's May, and public schools let out this Friday (gasp!), which means camps are right around the corner!  Arriving on the heels of Tristan's latest severe allergic reaction, I am reassessing my allergy guide for camps to make sure they have everything they need in the case of a reaction.

There are two times during the year that I put together my resources for the purpose of educating caretakers: before summer camps, and again in the fall before the new school year.  Having things in order before camps begin are even more crucial than school for two reasons: many of these camps travel or take place off site, and many will last just a week or so, giving you no time at all to form a trusting relationship with the staff to ensure that they are properly trained to prevent and treat an allergic reaction.

So I've decided to streamline my resources for the purpose of an at-a-glance guide for you and for summer camp staff.  If I have just a few minutes with them before the start of the first day, here's my to-do list complete with plans and templates for you to personalize for camp staff this year--keeping it clear and simple!


Inventory all of your child's medications, putting aside any expired Epipens, and discarding any other expired medications.  Go out and stock up so you have a set of meds for your child's pack, for your bag, and for the home.  Our allergy kit includes Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) chewables (generics can be found at Target),  Loratadine (Claritin) chewables (generics at Target or Walgreens), Naphcon A allergy drops, and an Epipen Jr. twinpack.  Keep everything in their original boxes, and make sure that the Epipen Jr. has its original label on it, with the prescription in your child's name.

On day 1 of camp, bring an expired Epipen Jr., and let your child's counselor, who has likely zero experience with an Epipen, administer it on an orange.  Sounds funny, but my children's allergist recommends it.  If a caretaker can get over her fear of using an Epipen, there is a higher chance she'll use it when she needs to.  If you don't have any expired Epipens, the trainer pens will do.

Update your Food Allergy Action Plan and have it in hand along with your child's medications to discuss with camp staff on day 1.
Here is a copy of page 1 of the Food Allergy Action Plan, courtesy of FAAN

As you can see, you will need two doctor's signatures on your Action Plan.  Some places will require these signatures in order to keep and administer medication to your child, so try to get them to your allergist or pediatrician as soon as possible.  In a best case scenario, set up an appointment with your doctor to go over the plan and discuss other concerns you have.

Make copies and have a scanned copy in your computer just in case.  When school rolls around, you'll have it ready!

Write up a guide for managing allergies with some important points about keeping your child (and all children) safe from an allergic reaction.  I used the Food Allergies Resources Guide to Food Allergens found at Kids with Food Allergies to help compile a list of hidden milk allergens for page two of this template guide:
Template for Summer Food Allergy Guide

Sample, 'Ingredient Labels Can be Tricky Business!' gives camp counselors an idea of how hard it can be to identify  hidden allergens in food labels 

Label your child's lunchbox, water bottle, food containers, and backpack with personalized Allergy Alert Stick-Ons.  These are quick and easy references for camp counselors, with bold lettering and pictures of your child's food allergies, especially good for children with multiple food allergies, like mine.

Allergy-Alert Stick-Ons can be personalized

Equip your child with a food allergy bracelet, like this customizable Allerbling bracelet, to remind others of his food allergy.

Allerbling bracelets are customizable and fun for little kids to wear

Keep your cell phone charged and on.  It will provide you some peace of mind while your kids are at camp.

Sit back and enjoy the foggy days of summer, knowing your children are in good hands!

For more food allergy resources, see Irene's recent list compiled in celebration of Allergy Awareness Week.


  1. Oh wow! So much to think of. You are a pro, Sarah. Love how there are allergy awareness stickers and bracelets.