The Allergy-Friendly Summer Camp Packing List Your Kid Will Thank You For
Summer vacation is finally upon us. School’s out, sun’s out, and it’s time to give your child a summer to remember. And what does that mean? Sending them to summer camp! It’s the best way for them to make new friends, try new activities, and develop new skills. All while having the time of their lives.
As an allergy parent, how can you keep your child safe, healthy, and happy while they’re away? You want them to have a stress-free, exciting, and adventure-filled summer. So what can you do to make that happen?
We’ve put together a list of essential items to include on your packing list. Items that your kid will be so glad to see in their duffel. With you on packing duty, they won’t have to worry about their allergies for the entire trip. They’ll just get to enjoy the ride.
Let’s get packing!
Keeping your kid safe is your top priority, so don’t forget to pack their medications - Epi-Pens, antihistamines, inhalers, and any other prescriptions they may need. Check in with the camp directors about their policies beforehand so you know exactly how these medicines will be administered. It’s also important to make sure that these medications are properly stored as well. Remember that temperature matters when it comes to medicine. Be sure to include an insulated carrying case for items like Epi-Pens. You don’t want the summer heat to decrease the effectiveness of important medications. You and your kid will feel safe knowing that everything they need is within reach.
We’ve all come home from a day at the beach with that angry, red sunburn on our shoulders or cheeks. It’s a huge pain. Camp is all about spending time outdoors. Your child is bound to be exposed to the sun for a lot of the day. Make sure you pack sunscreen that is at least SPF 30, is water resistant, and doesn’t contain any of your child’s allergens. Some sunscreens may have food-based ingredients in them (almond oil, oats, soy), so be sure to check the labels beforehand.
On any muggy summer night, there is bound to be a pesky bug or two. Keep your kid from an itchy nightmare with a bottle of insect repellent. Again, check the product labels for allergens, especially if you prefer a bug spray without DEET. Natural sprays are more likely to contain food-based ingredients that your child may have a reaction to. Do your research and you’ll be good to go!
T-shirts, shorts, sweatpants, swimsuits, sneakers - you’ll remember those. But there may be some key clothing items you haven’t considered packing:
- Sunglasses - It’s not just skin that needs protection from the sun. Your kid’s eyes might be sensitive to UV light. Keep them safe with proper eyewear.
- A raincoat/poncho - When that thunderstorm hits out of nowhere, your kid will be glad they can stay dry.
- A sweatshirt - Don’t be fooled by the 80-degree days. Summer nights can be quite cold. Make sure to prevent those goosebumps!
- Swimming goggles - Swim lessons will be so much more enjoyable if your kid isn’t constantly wiping the water from their eyes.
- Shower shoes - Your kid will want their feet to be well protected in communal shower stalls.
Proper bedding and bath items are essential to a summer your kid will enjoy. Life in a cabin might not be as comfortable as your child is accustomed to. So make sure they are prepared with these basic necessities:
- Bedding - blankets, pillows, sheets, a sleeping bag, a mattress pad
- Toiletries - allergy-friendly shampoo, conditioner, soap, and toothpaste
- A shower caddy
- A toothbrush
- A comb or hairbrush
- Towels and washcloths
Trail mix, s’mores, ice cream sundaes, hot dogs. These classic summer camp foods may not be safe for your little one. But don’t worry. Your child won’t feel left out. Not if you pack them the best allergy-friendly snacks on the market. If you’re able, find alternatives that are similar to what the other kids might be served. Gluten-free graham crackers and dairy-free chocolate for those nights around the campfire. Nut-free trail mix for canoe trips and days spent playing capture the flag. Free2b’s Crunchsters® crunchy bean super-snacks are great on-the-go options that will keep your kid satisfied with plant-based protein all day long. Looking for something sweeter? Free2b’s Chocolate Sunflower Butter Sun Cups® are the way to go. Your child will be thrilled to munch on this worry-free special treat.
A Water Bottle
Hydration is everything. Consider grabbing a stainless steel insulated bottle - one that keeps the water cold for hours at a time. No one likes lukewarm water on a hot summer day. After that sweaty soccer scrimmage, your child is going to be thrilled to find that their water is still refreshing. They’ll make an effort to stay hydrated if their beverage is enjoyable to drink.
Whether it’s for nighttime reading, late-night bathroom breaks, or outdoor evening events, your child is going to need a flashlight. Some camp cabins don’t have electricity, so having a source of light is essential after the sun goes down. Prevent stubbed toes by packing a high-quality flashlight. Maybe even a headlamp or a mini booklight. Be sure to include extra batteries just in case!
Don’t forget to label everything with your child’s name. You don’t want another camper taking home your kid’s favorite pair of shorts! For clothing, you want to make sure that your labels are washing machine safe so that they don’t get ruined during the cleaning process. There are several common options including stickers, iron-on fabric labels, fabric markers, or sewn-in labels (if you’re feeling particularly ambitious). For non-clothing items like flashlights or water bottles simple sticker labels are perfect. They are effective and easy to remove once camp has ended.
A Deck of Cards
Camp may be all about having fun, but there is bound to be some downtime between activities. A deck of cards is a perfect option for killing time during midday lulls. Playing card games is also a great way for your child to bond with their fellow campers. There’s nothing more satisfying and relaxing than a game of Go Fish or Crazy Eights after a long day of swim lessons and scavenger hunts.
A Disposable Camera
Many camps don’t allow cell phones or electronic devices. But your child may still want to document the experience. Disposable cameras are a fun way to do this while also following camp rules. Your kid will get a kick out of taking photos “the old-fashioned way.” Plus, they’ll hold on to those memories for years after the summer has ended.
A Book (or two)
Before lights out every night, your child may have some quiet time. This is a great opportunity for them to get started on their summer reading list. Pack at least one school book and one fun book. It will be both productive and entertaining for them as they wind down. Especially since they won’t be able to surf the web on their phones.
If your child is staying overnight, they’ll want to write home. Again, they may not have access to cell phones, so communication will be more difficult than it normally is. Send stationary, pens, envelopes, and stamps, so they have everything they need to send you letters. If your child is younger, you might want to consider sending pre-addressed and stamped envelopes to make sending letters home as simple as possible for them. They’ll be excited to tell you all about the fantastic time they’re having, and you’ll be delighted to hear from them. It’s a win-win situation.
Reminders of Home
It can be nerve-wracking for your kid to be away from you for long periods of time. They’ll want to know that you have their back, especially if it is their first time at camp. Write them a letter and slip it into their bag so they’ll find it when they go looking for their sunscreen. If they are feeling anxious or scared, the sight of your handwriting and encouraging words will help them relax. Maybe include photos of the whole family (including pets!) so they always have a friendly face to look at if they feel homesick. It’s the ultimate way to make sure your kid is able to enjoy the experience without fear. By the time summer is over, they’ll be begging to go back to camp next year.