Food Allergy Summer Camp 2004
By Lilly Byrtus
For more info about current summer camps, visit the AAIA Activities Page.
The first ever Food Allergy Summer Camp was held at YoWoChAs Outdoor Education Center situation 80 km. west of Edmonton, Alberta, on the shores of Lake Wabamum. According to our campers, it was a resounding success. Some of their comments were:
“ Loved the Food Allergy Camp, and "I will definitely be back next year.”; “It was fun, and they took care of me very well.”, “I had a great time.” and “It felt safe.”
Our campers participated in all regular camp activities including swimming, canoeing, zip line, hiking, games, campfires, etc. The weather was not the greatest for the week of July 5 to 9, and rain and mud will be part of the memories of camp this year! Next year, we are booking the first week of August for camp, and have already put in our request for lots of sunshine!
Meal times were carefully monitored. All of the food that was eaten by the food allergy campers was researched for ingredients and production line information prior to the camp. The campers’ food was individually prepared and served by Wendy, our very capable dietician/camp planner, and her exceptional student dietician, Caley. Specialty foods, provided by Save-On Foods, Red Deer East Hill, were obtained prior to camp. As much as possible, our campers were served a similar meal to everyone else. During and after meals, our food allergy campers were o bserved for any signs of allergic reaction. We are happy to report that none occurred! Loretta, an experienced emergency room nurse, was at the camp for the duration of the campers’ stay, and was on call 24 hours a day. Dr. Carr, a pediatric allergist from Edmonton, was our medical advisor for the camp, and was also on call 24 hours a day for the weeks of camp.
The YoWoChAs Outdoor Education Center staff including administration, office staff, kitchen staff and camp counselors, were very accommodating regarding special needs for our food allergy campers, and went out of their way to assist us during the planning stages of camp, as well as during the week of camp. All camp counselors with an allergic child in their group, received special training in the use of the EpiPen®, and how to recognize symptoms of anaphylaxis. Also an assortment of children’s story books relating to allergy were available to the camp counselors (provided by AAIA), and were read to the campers at bedtime. The greatest learning experience for many of the campers was being able to participate in all of the camp activities without worrying about what they would be able to eat at mealtime!
A special highlight of the Food Allergy Summer Camp was an entertainment evening, where all campers and camp staff were astounded by the magic tricks of Sheldon the Magician. Sheldon captured the attention of all ages, and amazed us all! The best trick was when the rain stopped and the sun came out after he finished his performance!
Another special highlight for the food allergy campers, were the homemade cinnamon buns. They were milk-free, egg-free and peanut/nut-free, and specially created by Wendy, Caley and Loretta. Apparently the cinnamon buns were “way better” than everyone else’s and this made our campers feel special!
Food Allergy Summer Camp 2004 was made possible by generous grant from Merck Frosst. A sincere thank you from the campers, their parents, and AAIA!
If you have time, sending an email thanking Merck Frosst always helps encourage future support.
This article courtesy of the Allergy/Asthma Information Association at www.aaia.ca and the Calgary Allergy Network web site at calgaryallergy.ca. May be reproduced for educational, non-profit purposes.
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