Going Gluten-FreeJuly 11, 2012

Off to Camp

Comments (2)

Posted by Wendy Mondello

This past month, my 9-year-old son had his first-ever experience with camp. Joseph has asthma and is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, soy, sesame and mustard. Sending him off to camp was cause for concern for me but, fortunately, it turns out I couldn’t have asked for a better inaugural experience.

Before this summer, Joseph had never expressed interest in attending camp. After all, he was usually busy during the summer months with tennis, indoor lacrosse and other activities. But when he heard about a Lego Mindstorm Robotics camp near our home and that he could spend a week building a Lego robot and learning to program it, his desire to attend camp skyrocketed.

I looked into the program to see how it would jive with his food allergies. The camp ran from 9 a.m. to noon each day, so the chance for food issues would be lower. I consulted the camp’s website where the camp organizer listed the schedule for each day. There was no snack time listed on the schedule. When I e-mailed him, he confirmed my assumption that there would be no food at the camp. Joseph was thrilled that he could attend a fun camp and not worry about being around unsafe food.

When I sent in Joseph’s registration, I included his allergy action plan, along with a sheet explaining how to use an EpiPen. I also talked to the camp organizer before the week started and asked if I could bring a box of wipes for the campers to wipe their hands off. He completely understood my desire to ensure that the campers didn’t have any allergens left on their hands from breakfast or a snack they had munched on in the car on their way to camp before touching the same Lego pieces and computer as Joseph. He had no problem putting the wipes at the door and reminding all of the kids to wipe their hands each day when they signed in.

Putting out wipes might seem like a small action, but it was a big deal for me. I was so thankful that they took me seriously and ensured the wipes were used. That hasn’t always been the response I’ve received in other situations, even when food has been present.

When we arrived on the first day of camp, I was happy that the teen running the camp and his mom were conscientious about Joseph’s allergies and the medication pack he carries. The 18-year-old girl who was helping out told me that she, too, has food allergies and was well versed in how to use an EpiPen. Her being there was a little extra bonus in making me feel good about my son’s well-being.

Joseph had an amazing week. He loved working with other kids to build and program their team’s robot, Lightning Bot. His team even won the competition on the final day of camp.

I’m thrilled that he was able to experience such an enjoyable, enriching week without having to worry about his allergies. Do you have a camp experience (good or bad) that you can share?

For more blogs by Wendy Mondello, visit tasteofallergyfreeliving.blogspot.com.