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I’m really not the CRAZY woman you might think I am, I promise! I don’t want or need to stand out because my kids have “issues”, it’s just that I have to ask a lot of questions and get firm reliable answers before I can register my children for camp. You know what I mean? While most moms can pick and choose the best camp for their kids some of us have to pick a camp by their food policies. If the camp we want to send our kids to is unable or unwilling to accommodate their needs they can’t go.
Here’s a recent true story to illustrate the frustration we often face:
Recently I registered my daughter to a specialty day camp she’s been asking to go to for one week to see how it would go. We arrived early so I could speak to the counselor in charge of early drop off that my 11 year old daughter has an epipen on her for peanut allergies. She said they have a peanut policy and that no child can bring peanuts into the camp. She pointed to the registration form indicating that she is aware of my daughter’s needs. Two seconds later, a camper sitting around says “Oh but we do have peanuts here. I always bring peanuts,” To which the counselor rushed to say “yes, but she will eat them at a separate table”.
For moms dealing with the everyday worry of “are my kids safe?” red alerts flash, alarm bells ring and we freeze. Now what? I don’t want to embarrass my daughter so I can’t make a stink. What to do, what to do? I left and returned an hour later to speak to someone in charge. The supervisor showed me that she took the peanuts away immediately after the incident and ensures that parents will be reminded not to send their kids with peanuts. I asked her if the counselors knew how to administer an epipen and she said of course, because they are all CPR certified. I think to myself, “seriously?” Do they not know that CPR certification does not qualify proper epipen administration? How can I trust? Even if I speak to them, and they tell me 1000 times that they are certified, do they have the experience needed and will they really step up when it counts? There is always that lingering nagging concern that I shouldn’t let my kids leave my side.
Ultimately moms who have kids with severe allergies or Celiac Disease have to let it all go and trust that the counselors in charge understand the potential danger of not enforcing safety policies 100% of the time with 100% care.
Having your child be aware of these circumstances is important. Knowing they carry their epipen with them and they know how to use it is key. My daughter told me later that the camp did allow another girl to eat her snacks which contained peanuts. She was asked to eat at a table separately. I was so shocked but happy my daughter was smart enough to stay away from her. I am so impressed with my daughter and how she took care of herself when I wasn’t around to step in and boldly take over. Empowering your children with safety knowledge will help them keep safe. Help them to ask the right questions, to be aware and to take precautions every where they go. For example, wash your hands, always, before eating; ask friends in proximity if they have any allergens in their food that you need to be aware of, and do not accept other people’s food.
I know that I would never get over it if I was the mother who sent the kid with a nut snack, the child who ate the nut snack, the counsellor who allowed the child to eat the nut snack and the owner of the camp under fire if, God forbid, the worst happened.
Today I plan to take my old expired epipens and put them to good use. I will take an apple and have my daughter practice on them. We will watch the epipen video clips and make sure we know what we are doing. Knowledge is best. It helps me feel safe.
Thanks for listening!