Campers with allergies: What to ask the director

By: Mollie Shauger | Monday, June 24, 2019 | Summer Camp

Children eating lunch

There are extra considerations families have to make when deciding if summer camp will be a safe place for their child with allergies.

Camp directors at the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges say allergies and the ability of staff to administer medication are common questions that parents have. 

Whether it’s bee stings, poison ivy or peanuts, the camp director should know of the allergy and any symptoms as early as possible, so staff can be trained on the camp’s protocols. During camp, families should also regularly communicate any updates regarding their child. 

For families who have a child with an allergy, here are some questions to ask the director when considering camp: 

  • Does the camp have a written policy and emergency procedure to address allergy-related problems?

  • How are meals planned and who prepares them? 

  • Will campers be able to bring their own lunches and snacks?

  • Does the camp have a nut-free policy? 

  • Is there a staff member who is trained to handle allergic reactions, and what happens if that person is absent?

  • How does the director communicate to their camp workers and volunteers your child’s allergy?

  • If it’s an overnight camp, will cabin or bunkmates be notified of these allergies as well?

  • If campers go offsite for activities, who will be traveling with the group who can administer medicine if necessary? 

  • Where are medications like epinephrine kept and how will my child have access to them? Does the camp require specific packaging for the medicine?

  • Also, where is the nearest medical facility is in case of an emergency?

  • How can my child safely participate in camp activities and not feel excluded?

Many camps ask that allergies be explicitly listed on medical forms that are submitted when registering. The camp should also be notified of any medicine that your camper will require, whether it’s an EpiPen, inhaler or something else. Many camps also require a doctor’s authorization for prescription medications. 

Families should also make sure their camper knows what foods are safe and unsafe and how to avoid exposure to the unsafe ones. Families should review the allergy symptoms with their child, and how their child can tell staff if they think they are having a reaction. Campers should also know how to use an EpiPen if they are keeping one on them or in their supplies.

The Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges provides camp opportunities for children of all ages at its seven branches: East Orange YMCA, Fairview Lake YMCA Camps, Greater Bergen County YMCA, South Mountain YMCA, Sussex County YMCA, Wayne YMCA and West Essex YMCA.




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