Managing Food Allergies at Overnight Camps
For additional information, see:
Preventing Life-Threatening Food Allergy Emergencies at Camp:
A Resource for Camp Nurses and Directors
Outlines suggestions for best practices to ensure the safety of food allergic campers, including taking steps to prevent exposures to foods that cause allergic reactions and being prepared to manage an emergency if one occurs.
(Developed by AAFA New England; updated March, 2015)
Below are some questions for parents to ask when considering sending a child or teen with food allergies to an overnight camp.
Some of the questions address basic policies that should be in place at all camps (e.g., emergency action plans, staff training, readily available epinephrine.) On some issues camp policies will vary depending on resources of the camp and how it attempts to meet the needs of individual children.
What is your experience with food-allergic campers in your camp?
How do you identify campers with food allergies?
___ Information provided by parents
__Medical evaluation form signed by their physician
Who is this information shared with at camp?
Unit Head(s)____Bunk Counselor____Kitchen staff____Other_______________
How do you accommodate children with food allergies:
(Note: these are examples only.)
__Coordinate with their parents
__Generally try to avoid exposure of child to the foods that they can’t eat
__ Identify all ingredients in foods
__Offer alternatives to meals or to specific items
__Prohibit food in bunks
__Provide a table free from peanuts or other ingredients to which the camper(s) are allergic
__Oversee the distribution of food sent or brought to camp
__Prohibit the sending of food to camp
__In the kitchen, use procedures to avoid cross-contamination of foods, such as restricting
specific pots and utensils from touching the ingredients to which the camper(s) are allergic
__Prohibit or avoid use of food in projects such as arts & crafts or games
__On camp trips, prohibit the serving of foods to which the camper(s) are allergic
Do campers have access to food or snack items that are not provided by the camp (e.g., food packages by mail, brought from home, or bought)?
Have you ever tried to eliminate specific allergens from your camp?
This group of questions pertains to arrangements for medical services:
a. Do you have a camp nurse on-site: __Full time __Part time __No
b. Do you have a camp doctor on-site: __Full time __Part time __No
c. Who is in charge of healthcare on-site?__________________________________________
d. Who is authorized to administer epinephrine injection) in case of a food allergy emergency?
e. Can campers carry their own epinephrine at all times?
f. Where is additional epinephrine kept for an individual camper? Who is responsible for making sure it is readily available at all times? Is there a back-up supply readily available?
g. What is the camp’s emergency plan for handling life-threatening food allergies or other severe allergic reactions?
h. Does each camper have an individualized care plan for managing that child’s allergies?
i. How far are you from the nearest emergency room? ________miles _______minutes
j. Are local EMTs authorized to administer epinephrine?
k. What communication methods are available to counselors to call for medical help if needed?
l. What provisions are made for managing emergencies on camp trips?
8. Are staff members trained about food allergies? What training do they receive? Who provides the training?
9. How are the bunkmates of a camper with food allergies informed about food allergy concerns?
10. These questions should be asked of the person responsible for the kitchen:
a. How are kitchen staff trained about food allergies? (for example, how to avoid cross-contamination of foods)
b. Does this person show other kitchen staff how to prevent campers from being exposed to ingredients to which they are allergic?
d. What other policies are in place pertaining to food allergies?