The Smart Approach to Food Allergies at Camp
February 29, 2012
The Shaka Smart Basketball Camp takes food allergies seriously.
Eddie Benion, VCU’s assistant athletic director for sports medicine, said he is the point person for all medical and health needs during the camp. If a child has a food allergy, parents should inform him, as well as specify what the allergy is on the camp’s written forms and provide medication to the camp.
“I sit at the scorer’s table and watch all of the campers,” said Benion, who has worked at all levels of athletics from youth sports to professional teams. “I’m trained on using the EpiPen and have used it several times in my career.”
The camp also has a plan in place in case an emergency situation arises because of a food allergy, Benion said. “I’m the one who responds and assesses the situation.”
If medication needs to be administered, Benion will do so since he keeps all of the medicine with him. If there is indeed an emergency, he’ll call 9-1-1. “It depends on the situation. I’ll handle it and then tell the parent,” he said.
That is exactly the approach Anne-Marie Irani, M.D. recommends. Dr. Irani heads the division of pediatric allergy and immunology at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU.
“Camp staff members should educate themselves about signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction, as well as be trained in the administration of EpiPen,” said Dr. Irani, referring to the prefilled needle people with food allergies carry that can reverse dangerous reactions. “In addition, they should be knowledgeable about the importance of not offering food to the child with food allergy. These children should bring their own lunch and snacks. An allergen-free area should be provided at the table where the food-allergic child eats.”
Medical bracelets for children with food allergies is a good idea Dr. Irani said, but it shouldn’t be mandatory. “Some of the older children may feel self-conscious,” she said.
Benion said children with food allergies should also be aware of the allergies and be able to let others know why they can’t eat certain things. All children attending the Shaka Smart Basketball Camp should know not to share foods and to support those who do have allergies.
For more information on how food allergies are handled at the Shaka Smart Basketball Camp, check out this article: Food Allergies and Camp–A Recipe for Success.
Download a Food Allergy Action Plan for use at camps, school or other activities.
Also, the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, www.foodallergy.org, has great resources for parents.