School holidays have already begun and, for children, three months of guaranteed fun are coming. Many families are already organizing summer camps, but what should be a relaxed and fun experience, becomes a focus of stress when we have children with allergies.
The fear of a accident and suffer a crisis He always accompanies us, but above all we fear that the staff is not sufficiently prepared to react correctly. If you have an asthmatic and / or allergic child, we advise you what you should keep in mind when taking your child to a camp this summer.
Find out, compare and interview with the monitors
Search for a summer camp for our children it is always a tedious task. We must take into account many factors and compare a lot until we find what we are looking for exactly.
But when this search is done thinking of taking our allergic child, the task becomes even more complex. We parents have to look with magnifying glass every detail and it doesn't help us choose -as the rest of families do- the one that “looks better” or “the most fun”.
We must go much further:
We are interested in knowing the years of experience which has the company that organizes the camp, as well as the number of children it deals with each summer. The more years of experience and the greater the volume of assistants, the more likely they are to have treated with allergies.
It is important to know the treatment that allergic children receive and / or asthmatics and how is he emergency action protocol.
Another forced question is how to proceed to the mealtime and if the staff in charge of the dining room is duly informing about food allergies and the risk of cross contamination.
- If you have a child with a food allergy, you must also know in advance if the food will be part of the recreational activities that the camp will take place.
For example, will there be food or ingredient handling workshops? Will it be customary to distribute candies or any other candy as a “prize” to an activity? Will the mid-morning lunch be properly supervised?…
These Questions should be adapted according to the specific allergy your child has. If you are allergic to the hair of certain animals you will have to know in advance if they are going to make excursions to farms, if there will be any day for the pet or visits of police dogs, guide dogs …
- Nor should we forget to ask for the type of training that monitors have or if the camp has a nurse or assistant.
Have the monitors received any specific training in allergies? Would they know how to identify the symptoms? Would they know how to act in case of a severe allergic reaction or asthmatic crisis?, would they know how to administer the adrenaline autoinjection?
- If your child needs medication if he has an allergic reaction, it is important that you know in advance who would guard that medication or where it would be stored. It is of no use to have a locked cabinet in an enclosure, if the kids are going to continually go on field trips, for example.
Once we have clarified all our doubts and found a camp that we really like and fits with everything we are looking for, the second step will be interview us personally both with the company that organizes it and with the monitor or monitors that will be in charge of our son.
They will probably tell us that "we don't worry because they are used to working with allergic children." It is the "reassuring" message that they usually give in these cases.
But for each family your child is unique and his allergy is also unique., since even having several children allergic to the same food, for example, their reactions to intake / contact / inhalation may be totally different.
Therefore, do not worry to ask and interview as many times as necessary until you are sure that you understand perfectly, both the type of allergy your child has, and the treatment he would need in case of emergency
Keep a detailed medical report
Once you have chosen the camp, when you are going to submit the application for a place reservation, attach a Your child's medical report clearly specifying the type of allergy what you have, what food or situations you should avoid and what your treatment would be in case of urgency.
My recommendation as the mother of a food allergic child, is that this report be as complete and current as possible, so that whoever reads it is clear from the first paragraph on what type of allergy he faces
Likewise, I advise you (if it is not indicated in the medical report) that you include a description of the appearance and evolution of symptoms that your child would present to an allergic reaction. In this way, the monitor in charge will be able to identify from the first moment if one is being produced and act as soon as possible.
And in this regard, it is also important that you make clear in the report how the children responsible should act if an allergic reaction occurs. That is to say: Do they have total freedom to administer medication in case of emergency?
And I ask this question because they have told me situations in which the monitors they have not dared to provide the medication because they cannot contact the child's parents at any given time. Luckily nothing more serious happened, but I don't want to imagine what this could have meant indecision In a serious case.
From the Spanish Society of Clinical Immunology, Allergy and Pediatric Asthma (SEICAP) the allergic is recommended to prepare a emergency kit with antihistamines, inhalers, corticosteroids and self-injected adrenaline. This kit should be taken to the camp by both food allergies, such as those allergic to latex or bee or wasp stings.
Allergy associations work hard to achieve, among other things, that any summer camp is prepared and trained to accommodate allergic children.
But the reality is that there is still a way to go and unfortunately, parents don't always find the security and tranquility that we should when we point our children to this type of summer leisure offers.
That is why many foundations and associations start up every year specific camps For allergic and / or asthmatic children, where the control is exhaustive, there are allergists and nurses, and the monitors are properly trained in all types of allergies.
There is no doubt that In this type of camps, tranquility is total, both for families (who for a few days can relax knowing that their allergic children are in good hands) and for children, who will share space and activities with others allergic children like them and they won't feel "different."
According to SEICAP, one in five children suffers from an allergy, one in ten is asthmatic and between 3% and 8% are allergic to some type of food. And these figures increase every year
Therefore it is everyone's job raising society's awareness that allergic children are also part of it and that when these dates arrive, they also have the right to have fun and participate in the same recreational activities and camps as the rest of the children.
As parents, when choosing a summer camp, I see that we have a double mission:
On the one hand inform us properly to make a choice as correct as possible according to our criteria and the allergic characteristics of our child
On the other hand, to show the companies that we reject for not meeting the criteria or requirements that we consider, how important it is to care for allergic children
Because living with an allergy is already hard in itself, but if from all levels of society we put our grain of sand to involve and integrate – without risks! – to allergic children, everything would be much easier for them and their families
More information AEPNAA, Asthma and Allergy Colonies, SEICAP
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