Gluten Free Camps

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... Read more →

As I brainstormed ideas for this blog post, I pondered over what was happening in our family's "gluten free life" right now. It dawned on me that a big part of my own gluten free planning right now centered on working with our son Ryan to plan what food he would pack for a few upcoming camps and camping trips this summer. This isn't our first rodeo...our son has been to overnight boy scout camps for the past few summers, a week-long hockey camp, and many boy scout weekend camping trips in which they prepare their own food. While it's always more work for Ryan to take his own food, we're all getting it down to a science. So I thought I'd share some tips and thoughts, especially with those of you who are doing this for the first time. First off, my recommendation: If you have a choice of where to send your gluten free kid to camp, you may want to peruse our list of summer camps on our CAMPS page on GlutenFreeTravelSite. Each year we add to the list and update the information for the current year. What started as a handful of camps willing to work... Read more →

Summer sleepaway camp is a rite of passage for so many kids, but up until recently, the option just wasn't available for kids following special diets. Fortunately, things are changing. Some of you may recall me mentioning our family's own experience with gluten free summer camp. My son has been attending one for the past three summers, and I've had the opportunity to volunteer as a parent counselor (as with so many kids' activities, this camp depends on volunteers to help all aspects of camp run smoothly, even though they have paid camp counselors running the daily activities). It's been such a rewarding experience for both my son and me that I wanted to get the word out about the growing list of summer camps that either dedicate a week to gluten free campers -- or are able to safely accommodate gluten free campers with special meal preparation. The list of recommended camps now covers most regions of the United States, so it's likely you can find one near you -- or perhaps even near family or friends who you may be looking for an excuse to visit! With many families I've met, dropping the kids off at camp is... Read more →

I recently attended the Celiac Sprue Association's annual conference, held this year at the Hyatt Regency Hauppauge on Long Island, New York. In addition to the fantastic group of doctors from the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University (and other great presenters like Mrs. Alaska, Brandy Wendler, RN, MSN) who spoke, there was an Exhibit Hall featuring gluten free food vendors and other businesses serving the Celiac community. I was particularly glad to meet Jesse Scherer, owner of Camp Eagle Hill in Elizaville, New York (2 hours north of New York CIty in the beautiful Hudson Valley between Poughkeepsie and Albany). Last summer, shortly after one of his 7-year old twins was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, he added a gluten free kitchen and dedicated chef to Camp Eagle Hill in order to accommodate other kids wanting a traditional summer camp experience. Jesse's parents first started the camp back in 1963, so this is not only his business, but an integral part of his life. When his daughter was diagnosed, one of his first thoughts was how she would be able to safely attend his own camp. Last year was a way for Jesse and his sister, who runs the kitchen... Read more →

Last month I attended Camp Celiac in North Scituate, Rhode Island, along with my 9-year-old Celiac son Ryan. This was the second year we've both attended -- I a "parent counselor" and my son as a camper. Campers range in age from 8 to 16 (that's when they "age out"). As a Parent Counselor AND parent of a Celiac camper, I've had the priviledge of enjoying a unique perspective of the camp experience, and I'd like to share my thoughts on this camp -- and others like it. Although Camp Celiac was the first camp geared to gluten free kids -- and is still the largest -- there have been other, similar camps that have sprung up over the years (some cater to kids with other allergies/food intolerances as well). You'll find a list of those camps on a new page of our website, GlutenFreeTravelSite, devoted to Gluten Free Camps. (Just note that this PAST summer's dates are still listed, since the camps haven't posted their dates for Summer 2013 yet.) Most of these camps, like Camp Celiac, are just "ordinary camps" (i.e. they focus on fun outdoor activities and nature, not discussions about a gluten free lifestyle). The key... Read more →