Planning for School Camp When Your Child Has Food Allergies
If you’re a parent about to send your child with food allergies off on school camp, you may feel a bit concerned about what could happen while your son or daughter is at camp. Here are some tips for what you can do to help camp staff take care of your child:
Communicate with the school (particularly the camp coordinator) well in advance of the camp to discuss your child’s food allergies and the school’s allergy and anaphylaxis policy. Check that the school has an emergency response plan that has been developed specifically for the camp location and discuss the risk minimisation strategies that will be put in place for your child while on camp.
Provide the school with written information about your child’s food allergies and any other medical conditions such as asthma, including an up-to-date personalised emergency action plan for allergic reactions (or an emergency action plan for anaphylaxis if your child has been prescribed an adrenaline auto-injector) and asthma action plan (if required).
Meet with the camp operators to discuss how they usually manage food allergies and whether camp staff have been trained in recognition and management of allergic reactions and the use of adrenaline autoinjectors.
Meet with the camp chefs and/or cooks to discuss whether they have knowledge of the special attention required when preparing meals for children with food allergies and for your child’s food allergies. You may also wish to explore whether you could supply meals and snacks for your child to bring on camp.
Make an appointment with your doctor to review your child’s food allergies. Your doctor can update your child’s emergency action plan, check that the adrenaline auto-injector (if prescribed) is appropriate for your child’s weight and not expired, provide any additional medications or documentation your child may need for the camp.
If your child has asthma, your doctor can also check that the asthma is under control and can update the asthma action plan.
Prepare your child’s emergency medical kit. Check that this is clearly labelled and contains up-to-date medications, including an adrenaline auto-injector (if prescribed) and an up-to-date emergency action plan that contains contact details and clear instructions on when to administer your child’s medications (and the correct dose) should an allergic reaction occur.
Talk to your child and remind him about some simple ways he can manage his food allergy while on camp — for example, avoiding sharing food and drinks, washing hands before eating (if possible), always checking with staff that the meal doesn’t contain the problem food before eating.
Also remind your child that if he can’t be sure that the food is safe, he shouldn’t eat it, and to always get help immediately if he feels unwell — he shouldn’t ‘wait and see’.