If you have a child with Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity, you may think that a traditional overnight summer camp would never be an option. How could you trust that your child would be safe with someone else preparing their meals for the week? What if they got sick? Well, I'm here to assure you that there are plenty of safe options for you to consider if your son or daughter has been begging to attend an overnight summer camp.
Just as many restaurants -- both chains and independent -- have put processes in place to accommodate gluten free diners, many camps have also realized the importance of welcoming gluten free campers AND keeping them safe. Now located in virtually all regions of the country, these camps have been accommodating gluten free campers for years. Many have separate gluten free kitchens, others have a special area of the kitchen reserved for gluten free meal preparation, and still others are completely gluten free for certain weeks -- or even the whole summer.
There are even some camps that can accommodate more than just gluten free needs. Check out the listing below for camps that cater to many other dietary restrictions (dairy free, nut free, shellfish free, etc.).
I encourage you to consider one of these camps. They can truly make a difference in the lives of kids with dietary restrictions. Kathy Dix, Director of the Ogichi Daa Kwe Camp for girls, recently told me, "I was at a camp fair this winter and one family came through with twin celiac daughters. You should have seen their faces light up when I told them our menu was gluten free. The little girls couldn't stop smiling, and the mom had tears rolling down her face. The dad said, 'I think we've found our camp, girls!' It's pretty heartwarming to be in a position to offer an option for families with this eating difference.”
Our own son has attended a gluten free week-long camp for the past 8 summers, and that one week is among the highlights of his year. He has made so many friends who, thanks to social media, he keeps in touch with year round. He doesn't know many kids at his school on gluten free diets, so it has been so transformative for him to have had this experience bonding with other gluten free kids each year. These campers can just be kids, enjoying all the activities and friendships of summer camp, without having to worry about what they can or cannot eat -- or bringing and preparing their own food (as our son has had to do at many other summer camps over the years).
Keep in mind these camps DO fill up quickly, so be sure to check to see when registration opens.
Date: August 4-9, 2019 (online registration is open beginning at 9:00 am on Saturday, February 2, 2019)
Location: Camp Aldersgate, 1043 Snake Hill Road, North Scituate, RI 02857
Contact: [email protected]
Camp Celiac began as a weekend sleepaway camp in July 2000 and quickly evolved into a 5-day sleepaway camp that has grown in attendance each year. The summer camp is for youth aged 8-16 with Celiac Disease, and campers come from all over the United States as well as abroad. Camp Aldersgate's kitchen is thoroughly cleaned TWICE before Camp Celiac campers arrive, and the kitchen is entirely gluten free for the 5-day period. Two registered nurses are on site at all times. The property sits on 230 acres of woods, trails, fields, and a lake. A variety of traditional camp activities, sports, and team building games are offered. NOTE: Camp Celiac is not able to accommodate any dietary intolerances/sensitivities or allergies other than gluten free and lactose free.
Dates: Full Season (June 26-August 3, 2019), 4-Week Session (June 26-July 21, 2019), or 2-Week Session (July 21-August 3, 2019)
Price: varies based on session, age, and how early you register
Location: White Oak Road, Elizaville, NY 12523
Contact: Email Jesse Scherer at [email protected]
This traditional summer camp now has a dedicated Gluten Free Kitchen and dedicated Chef for children in need of a gluten free diet. The camp is open to first-time and seasoned campers ages 6 -16. Camp Eagle Hill is a 200 acre facility that blends a perfect mixture of open grassy fields, rolling hills, and woodlands. A large range of instruction in sports and activities is offered.
Dates: August 14-17, 2019. Registration opens around February 1, 2019, and there are only 60 camp slots available.
Price: $225 (an $25 early bird discount is available if you pay by April 15, 2019)
Location: Camp Cherith in Hunt, NY
Contact: Email Sabrina DeVos at [email protected]
This camp was started five years ago by Sabrina DeVos, a Girl Scout with Celiac, as her project to earn her "Gold Award" in Girl Scouts. Originally started as a weekend camp, it has now expanded to 3 nights. It will be a worry-free camping experience for boys and girls, ages 7-16, and the camp will be able to accommodate both gluten free and lactose free diets. For more information, visit http://www.celiacstrongcamp.org or email Sabrina directly at [email protected]
Dates: (Weeks 1-2) June 22-July 6, 2019; (Weeks 3-4) July 6-20, 2019; and (Weeks 5-6) July 20-August 3, 2019.
Price: $3,650 for a 2-week session. Pricing for 4 and 6-week sessions is available on the website. Limited scholarships are available.
NOTE: There is also a Family Camp from August 12-15 for $299 per person. Children under 6 are free. Infants to grandparents are welcome. Many families like Family Camp as a vacation destination. They know that all the food will be safe, and they don't have to travel with food or make it themselves!
Location: 212 Longview Avenue (P.O. Box 808), Hinsdale, MA 01235
Camp Emerson welcomes campers that are gluten free and strives to make sleepaway camp worry free for kids and their parents. Gluten free foods are always availalbe. Plus, they support ALL food allergies and special diets. They are completely peanut, tree nut, shellfish, and sesame free.There is a Food Allergy Kitchen area with separate equipment, and professional chefs are trained in cross-contamination. Sue Lein, owner and Camp Director, will speak with you personally about your child's allergies and dietary needs and come up with an individual plan based on the specific allergies, as well as food likes/dislikes. At Camp Emerson, campers will enjoy 170 acres in the Berkshire Mountains, complete with lakes for swimming, sailing, water-skiing, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and ziplining. There's also a heated pool, ropes courses, an art center and ceramics studio, outdoor stage, theater and performance hall, dance studio, rock band studio, media studio, commercial kitchen for cooking classes, and science and engineering labs. Sports enthusiasts will enjoy the six tennis courts, gymnastics center, baseball/softball fields, basketball courts, an archery range, soccer fields, hockey arena, and golf driving range. Campers stay in wood cabins chaperoned by counselors. For more information, visit http://www.campemerson.com or call 800-782-3395. Details about their gluten free/allergy free meal program can be found on this page: http://www.campemerson.com/food-allergy-specialist
Dates and Pricing: All information about the different camps they offer, including a "Family Camp" (May 31-June 2, 2019), is available on their website. Gluten free meals are available during all sessions.
Location: 570 Sawkill Road, Milford, PA 18337
NJY Camps offer "exceptional Jewish camping" and a dedicated, GIG Certified, Gluten Free Kosher Kitchen. The camp is a co-ed resident camp, and their philosophy is that EVERY child should be able to enjoy the overnight camp experience without any restrictions. There is a gluten free compatible menu with a separate serving line and salad bar to avoid the potential of cross-contamination. Specific staff is hired to meet the dietary, emotional, and medical needs of the gluten free campers. Short or extended stays are available for children in Grades 1-11. Located just 1.5 hours from New York City in Milford, Pennsylvania, NJY Camp facilities include a full athletic complex, an Olympic pool, a lake, ropes courses, science labs, numerous art shops including a woodshop, ceramics studio and pottery wheels, horseback riding trails, plus hundreds of acres of natural wooded hiking area. Specialty camps are offered for sports, sciences and the arts. There are also a variety of family camp weekends, and the gluten free kitchen is open for those. One weekend is exclusively for gluten free families only. Visit their website for more information, or call 973-575-3333, ext. 113 for more information. You can also email the camp at [email protected]
Dates and Pricing: Sessions run for 2, 3, 4, or 7 weeks. All session dates and pricing are available on the website at www.perlmancamp.org. There is a first-time camper discount as well as financial aid available. Gluten free meals are available at all sessions.
Location: 661 Rose Hill Road, Lake Como, PA 18437
Contact: Camp Director Rachel Levine (also the parent of a child with food allergies) at (301) 231-5300 or email [email protected].
Perlman Camp is located on 400 acres in the beautiful Poconos Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Perlman offers a wide range of activities including athletics, arts, aquatics, outdoor adventure and more. Perlman Camp provides a non-denominational Jewish camp experience for children, which celebrates Shabbat and Jewish values while participating in a traditional camp environment. Perlman Camp is a warm and welcoming community that fosters transformational and enriching summer experiences. Learn more at www.perlmancamp.org. Perlman Camp has a Kosher kitchen and provides gluten-free and allergy-friendly meals throughout the entire summer season. Our Kitchen Manager/Executive Chef supervises the preparation of special meals for campers requiring a GF diet or food allergies in a separate area of the main kitchen. Campers requiring a GF diet should discuss this upon the camp registration process. Our Director and Kitchen Manager/Executive Chef are available to speak with parents prior to and throughout the summer.
Dates and Pricing: There are sessions offered throughout the summer. Dates and rates are available on their website. There is a first-time camper discount.
Location: 1100 Twin Lake Road, Stroudsburg, PA 18360
Contact Rick Coxe, Executive Chef (and who happens to have Celiac Disease) at 570-620-2267 or email him at [email protected]
International Sports Training Camp is a 500-acre facility located along the private Trout Lake in the heart of northeastern Pennsylvania's beautiful Pocono Mountains. It combines traditional camping experiences with the one-week sports camp experience. They offer 1-week All Sports camps for kids ages 8-16, 1-week soccer camps for ages 8-16, and 1-week sports/adventure camp for ages 15-17. All camps accommodate Gluten Free campers. (Campers disclose their GF status in their medical history form, and the Chef is given that information. Chef Rick is happy to talk with parents prior to registration.) Prices range for the various overnight camps, depending on which camp and the number of days. Coaches stress sportsmanship and team play while teaching life skills in a fun and safe atmosphere. Campers improve their play and also make friends and try new experiences, which help them to grow as individuals. Modern cabins all have individual bathroom and shower facilities and are staffed by live-in counselors who take an active role in each camper's day to ensure they get the most from their camp experience. Executive Chef and fellow Celiac Rick Coxe personally overseas a dedicated gluten free area of the main kitchen.
Date: June 30-July 5, 2019. Register now...space is limited. Application must be complete (with fees due) by March 15, 2019. Sibling discounts are also available.
Location: Camp Twin Lakes/Camp Will-A-Way, 210 S. Broad Street, Unit 5, Winder, GA 30680
Contact: For more information, contact Jill Waddell at [email protected] or 770-312-9722
This overnight camp is organized by the Georgia Celiac Foundation annually, and it welcomes kids aged 7 to 17 with Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity -- and their siblings. Camp activities include swimming, boating, archery, ceramics, and, of course, all meals and snacks are entirely gluten-free. There is also a 24-hour on-site health center.
Dates: There are nine different 6-night summer sessions starting June 16 and running through August 17, 2019. Gluten free and regular food is offered at all overnight sessions.
Location: 13524 Camp Kanata Road, Wake Forest, NC 27587
Contact: You can contact the Gluten Intolerance Group's (GIG) office: 253-833-6655 or email [email protected] or contact the camp directly at: [email protected] or 919-556-9459
This is a mainstream, integrated overnight camp for kids ages 6-15. Celiac and gluten free kids must be responsible for informing others about their eating restrictions, asking questions, and being aware of what they can and cannot eat. During each week, gluten-free meals are available, but the kitchen is not entirely gluten-free.
Date: July 21-27, 2019.
Price: $595, and discounted rate of $395 for each additional child
Location: 6075 State Hwy 155, North, Gilmer, TX 75644
Contact: James Hilliard, Program Director, at 903-797-6400 or email [email protected] with any questions.
This 7 day/6 night camp is designed for kids aged 7-15. It provides campers with an opportunity to participate in all traditional summer camp activities like swimming, canoeing, archery, arts and crafts, cooking, sports, and nature. Older campers also take part in high ropes, zipline, power pole, and mountain biking. There is a registered nurse on site at all times, and nothing but gluten-free food will be served. Cooks are trained and supervised by a certified dietician, and the camp can also accommodate campers on dairy free and soy free diets.
Date: There are 4 one-week sessions for Summer 2019, but gluten free food os only offered at Session One, which takes place from June 23-28.
Register online today at www.tulsacampfire.org/CAMP.
Discounts available for multiple campers in one family (they do not have to attend the same session/week).
Location: 706 South Boston Ave., Tulsa, OK 74119
Contact: 918-592-2267. Eric Meier is the Camp and Outdoor Program Director and can be reached at [email protected].
Accredited by the American Camp Association, Camp Waluhili is an overnight camp for ALL kids ages 8-17. It is located on Fort Gibson Lake, 45 minutes outside of Tulsa. The camp is owned and operated by Camp Fire Green Country, a nonprofit organization and Partner Agency of the Tulsa Area United Way. Camp Fire believes all children deserve the opportunity to find their spark, lift their voice, and discover who they are. Camp Fire kids gain essential skills that equip and empower them for success in school, work, and life. Gluten free campers are welcome during all three weeks of camp. However, only gluten free food (utilizing Safe and Unsafe Food Lists published by Celiac.com) is available during Week 1 (June 23-28). You can also find more information on the camp's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/campwaluhili
Date: June 16-22, 2019
Price: $489-$695 (tiered pricing). Early bird registration discounts available.
Location: 116 Westminster Drive, Roscommon, MI 48653
Contact: Deanna Seng at 313-341-8969 or [email protected]
Experience a world with new friends, new experiences, and great adventures all in and around beautiful Higgins Lake during Free to Be Camp, a camp for kids following allergen-free diets! Children ages 7-15 can take advantage of all the fun Camp Westminster offers with rock climbing, archery, hiking, arts & crafts, canoeing, kayaking and swimming in Higgins Lake, while enjoying great food free from worry. The camp is able to satisfy your camper's dietary needs with menu options that support a wide variety of food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances. Their Special Foods Team has experience safely preparing meals free of various allergens including gluten, wheat, dairy, casein, soy, egg, tree nut, peanut, and others. With trained staff and an on-site registered nurse, they'll handle the food so your child is "Free To Be" just a kid at camp!
Michigan Gluten Free Overnight Camp (at Camp Manitou-Lin)
Date: June 16-22, 2019
Price: Costs range from $625-$725. There is a discount when more than one family member attends.
Location: Greater Grand Rapids YMCA Camp Manitou Lin, 1095 North Briggs Road, Middleville, MI 49333
Contact: 888-909-2267 if you need special information.
2019 Camp dates, rates, and other information can be found on this page. Please select Week 1 Gluten Free Camp. For questions, email Karin Denman at [email protected]
This YMCA-run camp welcomes kids who have finished grades 2-8 for a one-week overnight session. Campers are divided into groups based on age. While some non-gluten-free campers attend at the same time, gluten-free meals are served separately. All meals are cooked by volunteers who work in the kitchen to make sure all the food for the gluten free camp will be safe. They also accept children with additional food allergies. You can also visit their Facebook page.
Date: July 21-26, 2019. Camp registration opens February 1, 2019
Price: $525 per child if paid in full by April 1, 2019. $550 per child if paid in full by June 1, 2019. $600 if paid in full by the check-in date. A $150 non-refundable registration deposit is due with your application.
Location: Camp Courage, Annandale, MN
Contact: Elizabeth Roach at [email protected]
Visit the website for more information, or you can watch their video.
Located on 305 acres of beautiful lakeshore, woods, and fields near Maple Lake, Minnesota (about 50 miles west of the Twin Cities), campers aged 8-17 are welcome to enjoy a safe, gluten free environment. The goal of the Gluten -Free Fun Camp is to allow campers to forget their eating restrictions and enjoy a traditional summer camp experience. Activities include Dance Party, Ropes Course, Tubing, Archery, Night Games, Tie-Dying, Pool and Waterfront Swimming, Campout, Bonfires, Chocolate Fountain, and much more.
Date: Different programs and dates available throughout the summer.
Location: 2144 County Road 137, International Falls, MN 56649
Contact: 513-772-7479 or email Kathy Dix, the Director, at [email protected]
An all-girls overnight summer camp that empowers the strong spirits of young women through wilderness tripping. Activities foster teamwork, confidence, perseverance, integrity, leadership, and respect. Located near Voyager's National Park, girls live in eight newly built cabins and use newly built washhouses. Sessions vary in length from 10 days to Full Summer, depending on age group. Programs are available for girls ages 8-18. Camp Ogichi Daa Kwe has transitioned to a naturally gluten free menu of organic meats, dairy, fruits and vegetables. The new Great Lodge was built with a totally gluten free kitchen, offering only a gluten free menu, so there are absolutely no cross contamination concerns. The 14, 10, and 7-day wilderness adventure portion of the camp experience is also gluten free for any trip with a Celiac camper. The Wannigans (portable kitchen for trips) has not carried or been used to cook foods with gluten.
Date: Two sessions are available: July 21-24, 2019 or July 24-27, 2019. Registration opens February 1, 2019, and equal priority is given to campers registering between February 1-14, 2019. After that, spots are on a first-come, first serve basis. Campers residing in northern California have priority in registration. Registration for campers outside northern California are based upon date of completed registration (i.e. earlier in February is better) and space availability.
Price: $25 non-refundable fee (additional donations are welcome)
Location: Camp Arroyo, 5555 Arroyo Road, Livermore, CA 94550
This 138-acre camp, set amidst the rolling hills of the San Francisco Bay area, welcomes campers between the ages of 9 and 15 (junior counselor positions are available for 16-17 year olds) who are from northern California. Camp Arroyo is a spectacular facility managed by a joint public and private effort between the East Bay Regional Park District, the Taylor Family Foundation, and the YMCA. Campers enjoy traditional camp activities such as rock climbing, zip-lining, outdoor sports, boating, swimming, archery, art, and more while eating a completely gluten-free diet. Priority registration will be given to campers from Northern California.
Date: August 5-10, 2019 (Any session during this Session 6 week is available to gluten free campers. Register for any in-camp program during Session 6.)
Price: $715-$975 (varies by program). A list of all available sessions, including pricing, is located on their website.
To register, contact Michael McGrath at [email protected] or by phone at 206-826-8937.
Location: 14500 SW Camp Sealth Road, Vashon, WA 98070
This overnight camp welcomes kids from 2nd through 10th grade and provides one week of gluten-free meals. Campers, however, must be aware of their eating restrictions and able to communicate their dietary needs as non-gluten-free meals will also be served. Food is prepared in a separate GF kitchen. Most other special diets can be accommodated.
Date: August 18-24, 2019 (Summer camp for 2019 is already full, but you can join the waitlist by completing this form.)
Price: Tiered pricing, and based on age/program. Sibling discounts and financial assistance are all available. A $150 deposit is required to hold a spot for your child.
Location: Camp Tapawingo, 22505 Black Rock Road, Falls City, OR 97344
Contact: [email protected] or 503-726-8886
This sleepaway camp, located at the base of the Oregon Coast Range and surrounded by 160 wooded acres, gives kids with food allergies ages 9-17 a summer camp experience where they can be independent, confident, and care-free. Days and nights at camp are filled with fun indoor and outdoor activities like sports, swimming, canoeing, cooking, arts and crafts, hiking, campfires, talent shows, and scavenger hunts. The camp is organized by a highly qualified team of medical advisors, parents of children with food allergies, cooks and nutritionists, and camp professionals. Camp Blue Spruce is free of foods with gluten, dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, soy, and sesame. Favorite meals include a full Thanksgiving turkey dinner, taco night, and a BBQ. The fabulous allergy-friendly desserts are always a hit. For more details about the food and its preparation, visit this page of their website.