camp catch 22

Posted on: Mon, 06/25/2007 - 12:57pm
hopechapel's picture
Joined: 12/11/2005 - 09:00

I did not think I would try to do any structured organized activity this summer so as to lick my wounds and recover from preschool. Relax. forget PA, etc. for awhile. But, short on babysitters and my boy short on friends.... I gave into temptation.

Camp 1 -- Sportsplex -- my dh's gym. - I figure - one week.
my husband talks to them and they say they have a PA boy there and he eats with the counselors in a P-free room. I talk to the lady at the front desk one week later ans she says they had a child so sensitve - airborne and contact -- that they had big signs on the door asking all gym members to not bring in PB. (I don't see sign). She says PB is banned. GREAT. I think. So this week I talk to the Director and she says that they do have some children with nut allergies but no one is allowed to administer EpiPEN -- that is the job of a nurse and there is no nurse. So, I say - what do you think you will do in an emergency? She says the children are not that allergic. I say that if a child is prescibed Epipen, then you cannot predict the severity of a reaction. I say, does this mean that allergic children cannot participate in your program? She says - they are not barred! We have allergic kids here -- we just cannot administer EpiPen.


Next camp -- classier than a gym camp. An outdoor Quest camp. I ask: Do you have experince with children who have peanut/nut allergies? She says YES! We have havd several children here with nut allergies. BUT -- the counselors cannot administer EpiPen -- your child will have to self administer. I say my child is four. She says: Can he self-administer? I say no. My child would never willingly give himself a shot (not to mention if he is distressed or vomiting, etc.). She says well the counselors cannot do it. I ask how about you? She says she can. I ask if she has w walkie talkie and is she within reach of campers. She says yes. She aslo tells me that she carries Epi for her own bee sting allergy. So, I calculate, the risk is not that great on a hike. No, my child cannot be without coverage -- but maybe it is okay if the director sprints. Overall she seems nice and she says the counselors alwyas carry EpiPen and inhalers on them for hikes. So, I bring my son over to collect the forms. We go up the stairs. I smile and introduce my self. The woman (not the director) looks at him. Does not say hello to him and she says loudly -- OH - the PEANUT ALLERGY! Can he self administer? I say no -- he is 4. Her and sidekick make a little fuss on front of him about how no one at the camp can. I tell her the Director said she could. They make faces and say "Is she EpiPEn certified????" Must talk to her about that. My son spills water on their desk and then their floor. (Yes he has a habit of acting out).
We leave. I am choked up and want to cry. Son is in back. He says mom -- I do not want to go back there tomorrow . I do not want to go there ever. I mumble and the I burst out with an immaturity. " Those are just stupid office ladies, I say". He likes this and yells STupid stupid office ladies. I deide what the **** and I tell him " They are just stupid, ignorant people. He repeats this. We curse away together. He tells his daddy - we saw some stupid stupid people today.

Okay - as an adult I should not teach him derogatory name-calling. But it made us both feel better. He sat at dinner telling me there were nuts in everything he was eating.

Okay, once again, how do I survive this?

BTW -- this is New York State. Has this certification thing become a great big loophole around the ADA? Are we now barred from everything?

Posted on: Mon, 06/25/2007 - 1:32pm
Sarahb's picture
Joined: 01/22/2007 - 09:00

I love how you handled him.
I have no other answers except that I totally get where you are and I am so sorry. It really sucks sometimes.
I'm in WA and have never heard of needing certification to give an epi.

Posted on: Mon, 06/25/2007 - 1:50pm
hopechapel's picture
Joined: 12/11/2005 - 09:00

Thank you for your reply. It is late here and sometimes I only have here to go to with my pain over this stuff.
Don't know what little boy does with it.

Posted on: Mon, 06/25/2007 - 3:05pm
Sarahb's picture
Joined: 01/22/2007 - 09:00

Are there any allergy support groups where you are....maybe you can try to hook him up some other pa or fa kids to play with?
btw - I'm orginally from jersey - so I would have probably taught him to say "what are you STOOPID lady?".....and then gotten in big trouble with my dh who has to sometimes remind me that I am not actually 16 anymore! Really....I am mostly well behaved in public.
We had a play date this weekend and one of the moms was quizing me about pa and looking at the other mom like (she's crazy huh?) and I was just like...uh...ok you two can barely understand each other (both are from other countries) and I am translating your broken english to each can't make fun of me unless you learn to communicate better. It was kind of funny. But it all just makes me very sad sometimes.

Posted on: Mon, 06/25/2007 - 10:11pm
TwokidsNJ's picture
Joined: 05/28/2005 - 09:00

When it comes to camps, I don't have quite the same expectations as schools. I guess because camps are optional and school is not, by law.
I have these conversations without my child present (otherwise it would give him anxiety). I assess the situation and risk.
We do short "camps" where there is good supervision and little/no focus on snacks. One example was a lacross "camp" 1.5hr int he AM for a week. Another example is a "Nature Camp" 1.5 hr each morning. Another example is Swim Team -- I recommend this sport as the lifeguards/pool director etc are all certified in CPR/FirstAid and are comfortable w/ Epipen, and calling EMT is also a standard procedure.
I tell the director I HAVE TO leave his medications. In the backpack I have the Food Allergy Action Plan which (I think)serves as medical authorization and instructions. I tell them to call EMT if ANY hives or symptoms. EMT can arrive in 4 minutes. I figure since they are not eating, this is a reasonable risk to take. I also don't go far...I stay in town and even drive by and see DS from afar once/twice during the class.
It's not relaxing for me, but he feels like a normal kid.
The all-day camps haven't been in my comfort zone yet...although I did see a couple advertised with nurses on staff...but they were way expensive and we don't need all-day anyway. I've focused on activities that are age-appropriate, reasonable, and low risk. I've also learned to make it manageable for THEM, not acting overly dramatic, because that scares people off. It IS scary, so I figure that is understandable. Serious allergies are becoming so common, which really helps.
Hope that helps.
ETA: My boys are just-turned 7 and 5.5; they cannot self administer and probably won't anytime soon.
[This message has been edited by TwokidsNJ (edited June 26, 2007).]

Posted on: Mon, 06/25/2007 - 10:30pm
runmom's picture
Joined: 04/18/2006 - 09:00

I agree with you! Stupid, stupid office ladies!!!
My ds is only 2.5 so we have a couple of years before having to work through the whole camp issue.
Our family does going skiing every year in Colorado and I have been pleasantly surprised that all of the day camps there are peanut/TN free. They do not allow anything nut related. So there is at least one place we can go as a family and I know he will be taken care of.
Sorry about your experience. I have never heard of "epi-pen certification". Our church nursery is now peanut/TN free, because of ds, and all of his teachers were trained by a visiting nurse on how to use an epipen... I do not think they got a certificate and it was not "official".
Maybe in a few years people will be a little more informed. Karen

Posted on: Mon, 06/25/2007 - 11:00pm
saknjmom's picture
Joined: 04/02/2003 - 09:00

Hi, yes, very, very stupid ladies!!
Anyway, I send my son to two camps. This year only one, but both have nurses on staff, don't serve pb, but kids can bring it.
One is YMCA. The director and the vice director are both nurses. There is also a full time nurse on site. They did a great job the last three years with my son.
The other is a local church camp. Again, there is a nurse, the counselors are fantastic.
The other football camp is run by the hs coach, there is an athletic trainer and the coach has a pa daughter. They gladly took the epi yesterday.
I am interested to know more about the duties of these camps to accommodate and plan on researching more this summer for future reference.
Maybe try one of those types of camps...ymca etc.
my friend sends her son to a camp in NY which is pn free and allergy friendly. I'm going to ask for the name.

Posted on: Mon, 06/25/2007 - 11:14pm
hopechapel's picture
Joined: 12/11/2005 - 09:00

One of the unpleasant shocks I am getting from my camp encounters is that the camps are all saying the same thing "We are not doctors or nurses". These are camps (i.e. Sportsplex) who have had experience and training and who are deciding to not bother with it if they can help it. So, my happiness to find places that had dealt with it has given way to realizing that they have deided TO NOT bother next time. I spoke with the Director again this a.m.and she said that she cannot administer Epipen. She told me that they have kids with food allergies but that their parents decided that it was okay for them to come and self-administer if needed. I told her that the idea that a child in distress would not be helped in a proactive way was NOT a reasonable accomodation. She told me that was the parent's preogative. I told her that if the child needed Epipen in an anaphylactic emergency and there was no adult to assist a sick child -- leaving the child there (kids bring their own snacks) -- was neglectful at best. She told me that the Orange county health dept. told them this at the certification --- they are not Dr and nurses and cannot administer (only encourage aelf administer). Does OC think children are Doctors or nurses? Does training in EpiPen mean training to NOT use it? Anyway, I told her she may be right but I am going to check with DOJ and health dept.
[This message has been edited by hopechapel (edited June 26, 2007).]

Posted on: Tue, 06/26/2007 - 12:05am
Adele's picture
Joined: 01/31/2005 - 09:00

This is easy for me to suggest because I don't have any little kids at home. I also don't know your circumstances....if you work, etc.
Have you thought of putting together a day camp for your son and a couple of other kids, hopefully also PA? It would give your son friends to play with and you can make the rules.

Posted on: Tue, 06/26/2007 - 12:36am
anonymous's picture
Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Any place of public accommodation, such as summer camps, cannot deny access because of disability status. If your child needs to have an adult with Epi-Pen training present at all times to effectively "have access", then by refusing to train their staff, the summer camp is in violation of the ADA and probably your state's disability discrimination laws. Tell the camp that you will file a formal complaint with the state's office of civil rights and/or the DOJ unless they agree to train their staff on the use of the Epi-Pen. A parent is qualified to train the camp staff, but they can also seek training from the Red Cross or even your child's allergist.
Don't let these morons off the hook. They are ignorant of the law.

Posted on: Tue, 06/26/2007 - 12:59am
TwokidsNJ's picture
Joined: 05/28/2005 - 09:00

Quote: I have never heard of "epi-pen certification".
Epi-Pen Certification is now part of the American Red Cross CPR/First Aid. So yes, you can be certified.
But in most states, you can also be "trained" and have the Good Samaritan Law apply.
Camps should be complying with ADA...many don't until educated BUT...
I wonder about things like "Sports Camps" which are really clinics run by Rec Depts etc. Are they required to comply with ADA?


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