I had been researching summer camps for children with eczema, food allergies, and asthma, to share on this blog when Louise contacted me about Camp Blue Spruce, a sleepover came for kids with food allergies. I’m more than thrilled to let her share a little bit about this amazing camp and how she came to be involved. She’ll also share some of the excitement from campers who will attend this year…remember, these kids probably never in their wildest imaginations dreamed they’d be able to attend a sleep away summer camp, the risks are just too great for these kids. At this camp food allergies will be the last thing on their minds – everything will be safe for them…how cool is that?
Camp Blue Spruce, a Summer Camp for Children with Food Allergies
by, Louise Tippens (see bio below)
Recently, I heard from a mom who had just registered her son for Camp Blue Spruce, an sleep-away camp for children with food allergies. She shared the exchange they had when she told him he was going to sleep away camp.
Son: I can go 5 whole days?
Mom: Yes – play and sleep and live there 5 days.
Son: How will I eat? Can you give me a lunch box for 5 days?
Mom: No. All the camp will be safe for you, you can eat ANYTHING you see. The cafeteria, the lunch ladies, the cooks – they all know and they will all make it safe for you.
Son: And the other kids?
Mom: The other kids are all like you, and they wear a MedicAlert bracelet like you.
The son kissed the mom with a beaming smile, saying “thank you, this is great!” and he went on about how fantastic it will be to have new friends “just like him”.
This boy and kids just like him are the reason we have Camp Blue Spruce, a worry-free camp for kids with food allergies. Camp Blue Spruce is like any other sleepover summer camp EXCEPT the food is prepared without any of the top food allergens. Located in Banks, Oregon, just 30 miles from Portland, the food allergy camp is five days and nights, August 18 – 23, 2013 and is loaded with fun for boys and girls ages 9 to 14. Activities include:
- Arts and Crafts
- Field Games
- And More . . .
The camp is free of the foods that cause more than 90% of allergic reactions, including: dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, soy, gluten and sesame.
My son, Riley, is 13 years old. From the time he was born, he had horrible eczema, asthma and food allergies. Adjusting to life with these health issues was tough, but we developed our routines, and it all became just a part of life. Fortunately, as he has grown, he has become much less itchy, and his asthma is rare. However, he is still severely allergic to 6 of the top 8 foods that cause allergies.
I have always wanted my son to be able to live a normal, independent life. I have spent a lot of time working with schools, day camps, and other places to successfully change the culture and practices so that Riley and other people living with allergies could be safe there. We have figured out how to vacation and keep him safe. But, there are some experiences that Riley knows won’t work out, since they seem too dangerous – summer camp was one of those things that didn’t seem possible.
Camp Blue Spruce is born from my strong belief that kids with food allergies need to experience the independence and camaraderie kids find at camp. They also need a place away from home where they can be completely safe and care-free about the food.
Our team is committed to making camp fun and safe. The team includes parents of children with food allergies, several allergy doctors from around the state, a former camp director, an outdoor educator, an elementary school counselor, and a communications professional. We are working with WA FEAST, a support group in Washington State for children with food allergies, and the Oregon Food Allergy Network. The staff at Gales Creek Camp, where our camp is being held, is an invaluable and gracious resource.
I received a letter today from another camper. She gave me 7 reasons why she wants to go to Camp Blue Spruce. I will share a couple with you:
- “I am excited to get to eat whatever I want without having to ask questions.”
- “I am excited because I have never met anyone else with celiac disease.”
- “I am excited because we are going to get to go swimming and play capture the flag and do crafts!”
Register your child now for this great week where allergic kids and kids with celiac disease can be normal campers!
Learn more about our camp located in Banks, Oregon:
Bio: Louise Tippens is the founder and board President of Camp Blue Spruce. She is a consultant for non-profit organizations and the mother of a 13 year old with life-threatening food allergies. Louise and her husband are committed to making life with food allergies as “normal” as possible! They live in Portland, Oregon.