How we prepare to enjoy our natural surroundings when dealing with dietary restrictions/allergies will help assure a wonderful, memorable outcome. With a little planning and anticipation, we can have a safe and enjoyable adventure whether it is a girl scout camping overnight, a day at the beach, etc.
When children are involved, the amount of planning increases. When our children are attending a summer or sports camp vs. going camping with scouts, church, or another family we need to prepare differently than if we are doing outdoor activities as a family when we know the rules and precautions to take.
When other adults, counselors, coaches, teachers, or instructors will be including our children in outdoor activities, we need to arm them with all the necessary information and supplies. Make sure the organizers or authorities are aware of the potential concerns and know how and when to react. It is best to take most of the responsibility to ensure your child’s safety and adherence to their restrictions.
Some tried and true suggestions include:
- Have any necessary medications, inhalers, etc. clearly labeled in a clear zip lock bag. Include the child’s name, emergency phone numbers, the name of the medication, dosage and under what terms should the medication be administered.
- Check the planned menu so that you can substitute allowed foods and make the necessary adjustments.
- Always send your child with additional allowed food in case of cross contact issues.
- When it comes to utensils, using disposable silverware, paper plates and cups is best.
- Be sure to include plenty of disinfectant wipes.
- Include a sharpie marker so cups, glasses etc. can be clearly identified.
- Include an assortment of zip lock baggies and plastic bags. Do not reuse these bags.
- It is a good idea to have a specific cooler for non-allergen foods.
- Make sure any children who share a tent/dorm room are willing to abide by the rules: No eating or drinking in the sleeping bags or tent unless the treats have been approved. The kids could agree on the treats they want and maybe even make them or shop for them together.
- Bring their own towels and beach towels.
- Offer to bring some safe treats for the rest of the group or provide the ingredients. In addition, you and/or your child could assist in the menu planning and incorporate some new ideas.
- Always provide individually wrapped healthy products to leave in a backpack or lunchbox. Suggested items would be fruit, dehydrated fruit or vegetables, fruit cups, allowed granola bars, healthy homemade muffins or cookies, dehydrated meats, nuts.
- Bring extra plastic silverware that may be needed.
In summary, the end goal is to be prepared. You can also ask those in charge of the camp if they have any suggestions or experience dealing with special dietary restrictions. Remember, when you are willing to take the initiative and include others, they are generally much more willing to work with you then if you just impose the rules, guidelines, and fear on them. Make yourself available for any questions or possibly offer to volunteer.
When traveling or vacationing as a family, you generally know the routine. However, below is a list of some ideas that have developed basically through experience.
- When driving distances, prepare meals and you could always stop at gas stations to heat it up.
- Thermoses are great at keeping foods either hot or cold.
- Always bring along more food and drinks/water than you think you will need. Delays happen whether you are flying, driving, hiking, etc.
- Bring along leftover containers and zip lock baggies for safe food storage.
- Backpacks are great to incorporate food storage. Can also bring along freezer packs.
- Use individual condiment packages for ketchup, mustard, mayo, salt, pepper, salad dressings, etc.
- Bring your own tablecloth, picnic basket, blanket, necessary supplies, etc.
- Feel free to look at our recipes for ideas for picnics and other outings.
Have fun and enjoy the adventure!