SUMMER CAMP TIPS
1. Be certain that all medication forms have been properly completed by your primary care physician and that the information is current and accurate. Information concerning specific allergies, especially foods, should be completed by you to be certain that they are correct.
As you understand your child’s asthma treatment best, an outline of your treatment plan should be included with this medication information. If necessary, this can be reviewed by your pediatrician or allergist. [Note: Contact AAFA New England for a free copy of “Asthma/Allergy Action Card” form, to use for this purpose.]
2. Be certain to plan ahead. Supplies of medications should be available. You should clarify beforehand whether camp policy necessitates administration of medication by a camp nurse, counselor, or physician. Oftentimes, asthma inhalers are allowed to be kept by children, whereas oral medications must be dispensed. Be certain a sufficient supply is sent along with your child to last through the months. Also plan ahead so that your primary care physician or allergist is not requested to fill the prescription immediately before your child leaves for camp.
3. Although in general pollen counts tend to be low during the summer, allergy does not take a vacation. Environmental measures necessary at home pertain at camp as well. These should not be intrusive on your child’s enjoying the summer camp experience, but could include the following:
For mite-sensitive individuals, a pillow from home or a zippered allergy-proof cover for the camp pillow should be taken along.
Mattress covers could be considered. If you are using a sleeping bag, be certain this has been adequately cleaned to minimize exposure to mites and mold which may have accumulated since last used, usually a year ago.
Damp or moldy cottages may contribute to symptoms and proper adjustment of medication should be made with this in consideration.
For camps where exposure to animals is likely, individuals with animal dander sensitivity need to take specific precautions. In particular, farm animals or horses may provoke unexpected problems.
For those attending camps in a farm setting, damp hay or musty barns may cause acute allergic symptoms.
Children with cold-induced hives should exercise particular precautions with swimming or potential exposure to cold water. This must be discussed with your doctor.
4. Other asthma triggers need to be considered. Among these are exercise which may occur with competitive athletics or vigorous activity at camp. Pre-treatment with a reliever/rescue bronchodilator, such as albuterol, may be necessary. For camps in or near urban areas, air pollution during hot, humid weather in the mid-summer months may cause difficulty. Outdoor activities may result in increased symptoms during these times. This may occur even in camps on the coast of Maine because of the pattern of air flow.
5. Respiratory infections, which frequently occur with groups of young children in camp, may pose additional difficulties for those with asthma. Unfortunately, there may be no means of avoiding these infections; however, proper adjustment of asthma medicines when respiratory infections occur is necessary.
6. For children with food allergy, specific dietary restrictions must be reviewed! Many camps have now become well aware of the problem with food allergy. You should inquire about this before signing your child up for a particular camp. Epinephrine auto-injectors (e.g., EpiPen®, Auvi-Q or generic versions) should be readily available. Camp counselors, nurses, or physicians should be aware of this potential problem. You should inquire regarding availability of local emergency services and availability of EMTs on ambulances which are used by the camp.
See also: “Managing Food Allergies at Overnight Camps” posted on this website: (http://asthmaandallergies.org/food-allergies/summer-camp-checklist-for-parents/)
7. For individuals with stinging insect allergy (bee sting allergy), precautions should be taken to avoid unnecessary exposure. These may include activities around garbage cans, during picnics, and with any outdoor food exposures. Just as for those with food allergy, an anaphylaxis epinephrine auto-injector must be kept available, even if venom injection treatment has been given.
© Frank J. Twarog, M.D., Ph.D. (May, 2008)
Rev. May 2017