Remember summer camp?
The games, bunkhouse pranks, and the food! Endless pancakes for breakfast, and hotdogs on a soft bun for lunch. S’mores over the campfire. Camp was a gluten-filled, carefree time.
Sending a gluten-free child off to summer camp can be downright scary. As a mom of a gluten-free child, you plan meals, you watch snacks, you stock your pantry with acceptable foods and you send along tidbits with your child everywhere they go. Putting someone else in charge of your kids’ meals for a whole week may seem impossible, even unthinkable!
Summer Camp for Gluten-free Kids
The good news is that there are several options to send your child to summer camp with confidence. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.
The first and most obvious suggestion is to opt for a gluten-free camp. This is a growing trend that can certainly help ease fears of an accidental ingestion. There are several gluten-free camps across the country. The activities and dates can be limited but it’s certainly worth looking into!
Here is a list of Celiac and Gluten-free Camps from GF Jules >>
Traditional Camp: Allergy-Free Meal Options
If you are planning to choose a traditional camp or if your child has a favorite camp they are hoping to attend, you can find allergy-friendly options with a little research. First, check out the camp website. Oftentimes you will see an option for allergy-free meals advertised. This will show that they are allergy-aware and likely a safe choice. If there is nothing on the website, you can contact them and ask about their policies. Oftentimes they will put you in direct contact with the camp nurse or kitchen staff. It is becoming more and more commonplace that camp staff will not only be aware of allergy needs but will have attended training. They will be able to tell you if allergy-free meals and snacks are an option.
Traditional Camp: Pack Your Child’s Food
If the camp does not offer gluten-free meals, there can be another option. Most camps will allow you to provide food for your child for the week. If you are able, you can send prepared meals and snacks specifically for your child and the staff can make sure that he gets the food you provide. If you opt for this route, be sure to simplify things for the kitchen crew as much as possible. Send food that needs to be refrigerated in matching containers that are labeled with your child’s name and the name of the food that is inside. For dry ingredients, put them in a box or tote that is well marked. (Hint: Also include a thank you card for the staff letting them know how much you appreciate their help – this is definitely going to cause them more work and you want to acknowledge their effort for sure.)
RELATED: Gluten Free Lunchbox Ideas for Kids
As you can see, it is possible for your gluten-free child to attend camp safely with a little research and pre-planning. Your child can create the same memories of ziplining, horseback riding, and campfire stories you enjoyed in your childhood. What a gift!