Summer Camp for Kids with Asthma: Special items for the packing list

While my first year at camp proved to pack double the socks needed (because they'll be used for a camp challenge and go missing), going to camp with asthma requires some thought beyond the list most camps provide to campers. If you’re sending a kid with asthma to camp, there may be some special items to consider to keep them healthy while they're away from home that go beyond the "medication" listed on their camp provided list!

The extended packing list: What to consider

  • Medicine - this seems like a given, however, it may be helpful to pack duplicates of asthma medications, just in case. Ensure all inhalers or prescriptions have pharmacy labels on them, including your child’s name and dosing instructions. Epinephrine injectors (ie. EpiPens), if prescribed, should also be
  • A spacer - If your child uses a spacer, ensure at least one is packed along with the inhalers that they use.
  • A small bag to carry medicine. Drawstring backpacks for older kids, some appropriately sized pencil cases, or carrying cases specifically made for inhalers/spacers that can be clipped to belt loops should be used to ensure your camper can keep their meds with them, and their hands-free. Ensure medicine bags are labeled with your child’s name and have space to write their cabin name or number as well in case they are left behind at the climbing wall or beach.
  • Asthma Action Plan - Many camps may require this, but providing camp medical staff an asthma action plan can mean less guessing if a camper’s asthma spirals out of control, which ultimately means control can be regained faster or appropriate actions like calling a parent or doctor can occur faster.
    Another note is that it may be worthwhile to step-up treatment before camp if there are any concerns with your child’s asthma control, just to stay one step ahead—talk to your doctor about this one.
  • Nebulizer - Even if your kid does not use a nebulizer regularly, pack up your child’s nebulizer and compressor, along with any necessary power cords or medications. The asthma action plan should include when breathing treatments should be given and how often. (When I went camping a few years ago as a support worker for a kid with a disability, fires burning meant I needed to visit the nurse for a couple neb treatments—I was happy it was with me!)
  • Antihistamines: Find out from the camp about environmental triggers that may affect your child. Starting up on antihistamines before camp and keeping them up during camp may assist with allergies and allergic asthma symptoms.
  • A medical ID bracelet or necklace. The camp I used to attend asked on their forums if campers with medical issues wore medical identification. Medical ID can ensure your child’s counselor, as well as those that don’t know your camper as well, are aware of their medical needs. Ensure medical ID bracelets are durable, waterproof, and fit snugly enough to not catch anywhere—beaded bracelets may not be the best choice for an active camp experience!

Some of the things on this list may seem like overkill, but that’s the point. The more prepared your child is to go away, the less both of you will have to stress out about asthma and allergies at camp, and the more fun they’ll be able to have—and the more peace of mind you, as a parent, will have while you’re back at home wondering to do with all that free time!

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