Don't Let Food Allergies Steer You Away From Summer Camp

How to deal with food allergies and go to Camp

Eating food at camp
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For many kids, a big part of growing up is looking forward to spending time at summer camp.  The memories and friends you make along the way is nothing short of magical.  Living on your own, participating in new activities, mastering new skills, learning who you are and the list goes on.  Camp quite often becomes a home away from home for so many kids as they grow up.  And the best news is that today so many camps know just how to handle campers with food allergies so they too can be a part of making memories all summer.

In order to find which camps best suit your needs, it is important for family members, physicians, camp staff and campers to all work together to find the best fit for your child.  


  • When choosing a camp, find out what experience they have dealing with campers with food allergies? How long have they been handling food allergies? What number of campers have documented food allergies? 
  • Consider a camp that runs special programs for your particular food allergy (i.e. Gluten free camps, etc)
  • Identify who will be your point person for food allergy questions and concerns, before and during the camp season. 
  • Determine how many other campers will be attending this summer with similar food allergies? What is their protocol for food preparation and distribution? How is this information communicated from staff to campers during meal/snack time? Do they have varied food options for your camper that are similar to camp menu choices? 
  • Where is the health center located on the campgrounds? Where is the nearest medical center in the event of an emergency?
  • Are there any camp limitations for your child due to their allergy?
  • Be sure all medical forms and medications are up to date and supplied to the camp. Introduce yourself and your child to the camp nurse/doctor to ensure optimal safety and familiarity with your child. 


    • Be sure to complete all required medical forms.
    • Be sure that all medication is up to date and supplied to the camp.
    • Be sure family and camp personnel are clear about the protocol for treating allergies.

    Camp Staff:

    • Let camper families know what allergies you can handle at camp. This should include details on your plan of action for serving food to campers, treatment of allergy symptoms, food options, key staff who will be in charge of campers with allergies.
    • Speak directly with camper and family members to fully understand the campers food allergy needs.  Be certain that this is something that can be managed at your camp.  (It is okay to state if this is something that your camp is not adequately set up to manage.  In that case help direct the camper and his or her families, to other camps better suited to meet their needs. 
    • Establish a dining hall protocol to safely feed campers throughout the summer. 
    • Educate kitchen staff on all safety procedures for handling food ordering, cooking, and distribution for campers with food allergies. 
    • Properly educate camp staff, especially counselors, on procedures for campers with food allergies. Be sure to appoint a counselor to be in charge of these campers needs, and to have a backup staff member assigned on their day off. 


      • Be sure to understand your food allergy and what foods you can and cannot have.
      • Talk with your counselors upon arriving to camp to be certain they are familiar with you and your needs. Make sure they know you by fact and name so that they can best be your advocates for food at camp.
      • Be sure that the counselors are aware of how to treat you if you have an allergic reaction. This is critical in keeping you safe at camp.
      • Be familiar with your surroundings so that in the case of emergency you know where health services are located.  
      • Develop an emergency plan in place with your counselor in the event you are exposed to a food allergen at camp.

        There truly is a camp for everyone, and that includes kids with food allergies. With the right research and a team effort, summer camp can be an exciting, memorable and safe place for your child.