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Great Summer Camps for Kids with Food Allergies or Gluten Sensitivities

May 2, 2013

For Part II of our Great Summer Camps for Kids mini blog series, we're looking at programs for kids with food allergies or other dietary restrictions. With some 3 million American children estimated to have food allergies, more U.S. camps than ever before are accommodating kids with milk, wheat, eggs, shellfish, peanut or tree-nut allergies; gluten sensitivity; lactose intolerance; and other dietary concerns. (For more information on managing your child's food allergies at camp, check out the Food Allergy Research & Education Web site.) For insider tips on programs particularly welcoming to--or designed specifically for--campers with special dietary needs, we checked in once again with summer-camp expert Jill Tipograph, founder and CEO of consulting company Everything Summer. Here's to happy campers! --Camps Kenwood & Evergreen Based in Wilmot, New Hampshire, the Kenwood Camp for Boys and the Evergreen Camp for Girls both have peanut-free and tree-nut-free dining halls--and both forbid those foods anywhere on campus. Between such activities as ceramics, rock climbing, baseball, and diving, campers enjoy meals served family-style, but Tipograph points out that "kids with special dietary needs go to a window in the dining hall where the chef has individually cooked and wrapped meals for them." Parents of campers on gluten-free regimens bring some of the their children's favorite foods to start the summer, but once the kitchen knows the campers' favorite brands, "the camp buys more throughout the seven-week session," notes Tipograph. --Mah-Kee-Nac In the Berkshire hills of Massachusetts, Mah-Kee-Nac offers an impressive array of activities and top-notch facilities, including an Olympic-size pool and beautiful waterfront setting, ideal for windsurfing, sailing, and other aquatic sports; state of the art driving range; and a media center with a radio station and photography studio. The kitchen is nut-free, and, according to Tipograph, the camp "hires culinary students and assigns each of them to any child who has a food allergy to ensure they are eating properly." --Camp TAG (The Allergy Gang) This unique one-week day camp program, held this year at Tall Pines Day Camp in Williamstown, New Jersey, was created especially for kids with food allergies, asthma, or other conditions and their siblings. Described as "95 percent fun and 5 percent educational," the camp provides kids ages 4 to 12 with the opportunity to meet other children who share similar dietary issues. Tipograph notes that "the first 15 minutes of each day is devoted to games and activities dealing with food allergies, anaphylaxis, and nutrition," while the rest of the day is filled with swimming, canoeing, dance, music, arts and crafts, among other typical camp activities. Do you have any experience with summer camps that cater to kids with special dietary concerns? We'd love to hear your recommendations, so please share in the comments below.

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