Let's Go Camping!
Does camping always seem like an impossible activity for your family due to food allergies? It doesn’t have to be! Foublie coach Katie has some tips to help your family have a blast while camping with food allergies. Katie recently went on a camping trip with her family — 10 adults and 7 kids, including her son James who has multiple food allergies (egg, dairy, cashews, and peanuts).
Before you go camping:
- Communicate what you need with everyone going. 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 are special for the food allergic child. 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 to the campsite:
- 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 already mapped out the nearest emergency room and everyone knew what to do.
- The kids knew 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 everyone knew to ask before they shared any foods with James.
- Create a special area to eat. We had one place that my son ate and everyone 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 that 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 the next trip:
Others need to live it. After this camping 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, and now they get it too.
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