Q: My child is heading to camp for the first time this summer. Unfortunately he has allergies, and I'm worried about health problems out in the woods. What can I do to make sure he has a great and healthy time?
A: Summer camp can be a fun time of exploration, making new friends and having new experiences, but for a child with allergies or asthma, camp can be fearful if the camper isn't well prepared.
Preparing your son for his time at camp should include:
» Making sure everyone and everything is up-to-date. Make sure your child's medical and prescription records are accurate, and share the necessary information with the camp staff. As you share that info with the staff, be sure to go over which camp activities are allowable for your child, how meals are handled and make sure you convey your expectations to the staff.
» Before camp, visit your allergist to ensure you'll be sending your child to camp with the correct supply of needed medications.
» Well-run camps will welcome a discussion about what your son can or cannot eat and what they need to have on hand for an allergic reaction or asthma attack. The staff should be trained to respond appropriately to allergy and asthma attacks, particularly knowing when to call 911.
There's no reason allergies and asthma should limit a child's summertime experiences including camp. There's just a little more planning necessary to ensure a safe and exciting time at camp.
Dr. Curt Chaffin, The Asthma & Allergy Group of Galen; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society