Let's Go Camping!
Camping with with kids and food allergies?
Yes! It’s possible! This summer we met Katie, mom to James and Jack. James has multiple food allergies (egg, dairy, cashews and peanut). We met her right after an epic camping trip with 10 adults and 7 kids! We asked her to share her tips on how she pulled off the trip.
Before you go:
- Communicate what you need. Before we left, I made it clear that there would be absolutely no peanuts. But I’ll meet my family in the middle. I was OK with others eating eggs for breakfast.
- Research snacks. My sister and I each did research and went shopping to find yummy snacks that everyone could eat.
- Buy special plates and utensils that were special for James. This was my dad’s idea. We wanted to pick a color that you could see from across the camp site so found some red plates, utensils, and cups from the dollar store.
- Bring your own pots and pans and label those in the special color too. If it was red the group knew not to touch it, that was for James.
- Pack extra soap. The restrooms in the public campsite were sometimes low and I was glad I was prepared.
Once you get there:
- Everyone is involved, even the kids. The kids even felt a special duty to help keep James safe. They were extra helpful.
- Communicate. Don’t be afraid to say what you need and repeat it.
- Demo & (more) Communication I brought my AviQ trainer and we all practiced. We talked about what a reaction looked like and what to do if I was in the shower or not around and James had one. I had mapped out the nearest emergency room and everyone knew what to do.
- The kids new there were some snacks they could eat after James went to bed or while he was napping. These snacks were kept in a special place and knew to ask before they shared any foods with James.
- Create a special area to eat. We had one place that James ate and every one knew not to bring other food there.
- Do all your own cleaning. I brought separate washing tubs and sponges and labeled those too. It’s hard for others to understand the proteins can still trigger a reaction and that camp cleaning doesn’t do it.
- Everyone washes their hands after they eat. Tell people why. It’s not just about hygiene.
Ready for next time:
- Others need to live it. After this trip, my family gets it and they are ready to hang out with other food allergic children. They saw what my daily life is like and that makes me feel stronger too. Having more people comfortable with what we need to do to keep James and other kids safe makes me happy. For them, being around us made our life ‘real’. This is what we do and why. Now they get it too.