Camping is In Tents
Learn how one mom managed a baby with multiple food allergies, 7 kids, 10 adults and 1 week of tent camping. Oh... and it sounds like camping was a pretty good time (for everyone!)
I have two kids, Jack who is 3 and James who is 15 months. James is my allergy baby. He has so many: cashews, egg, peanut, and dairy. He’s at the state where he will eat anything off the ground. He loves to grab food from others’ plates.
Camping is tradition.
I have camped with my family every year since I was 4. This is the first year we did it with James having severe food allergies. I was scared, but I didn’t want to give it up. I actually remember thinking about this trip when he was diagnosed. As the trip was getting closer, I was freaked out. When my family camps, we come together for every meal. It’s communal. But I didn’t want to give it up. I knew we could do it safely, but not by myself.
At the end of the week, every one high-fived. I think we did pretty good. We had so much food and there were so many people.Next year it won’t feel so daunting, this will be a part of the routine.
Katie’s tips for happy campers, camping safely
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.