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Scouts with severe food allergies

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  • Scouts with severe food allergies

    We have a boy that wants to join our Troop that has a SEVERE allergic reaction to peanuts to the point any contact could kill him. He wears an eppy (sp) pen 24/7. The problem is so many foods contain trace amounts of peanuts and his mother wants us leaders to read the ingredients on every single item we buy for campouts. I don't like the liability. He's a nice kid but the other leaders are also concerned. Anyone else have issues like this?

  • #2
    Never had this issue before but one way to approach this would be to invite one of his parents to take a leadership position. They will know far better than anyone else what might be harmful.


    • #3
      Been there and done that.

      In short there are no short cuts, if his allergy is that servere you have to get it right. That said it's not impossible. I don't know how realistic all the follow is in the USA but this is how we handled it in the UK.

      1. For the most part we cooked from scratch. Start everything off from scratch and you don't have to check the ingredients. A bag of onions is a bag of onions, it doesn't contain nuts. Ditto a pack of bacon, a jar of mixed herbs and so on.

      2. The most common things to contain nuts are cakes, biscuits, breakfast cereals and anything else baked. Avoid buying these. We found it a good opportunity to get the kids making their own from scratch to bring to camp. Cooking sauces often have trace amounts in as well.

      3. An absolute zero tolerance policy on kids bringing nuts to scouts or camp. Research in advance sweets, biscuits etc that are guaranteed to be nut free, there are some out there. Buy them in and run your own tuck shop (sorry, that'a a terribly English phrase!)

      4. You can't be 100% certain that you can keep them away from nuts. If you are out in public a member of the public might open a bag of nuts. You need to make sure that all adults, and patrol leaders as well, are properly trained to know the symptoms of anaphylaxis and how to treat it including how to administer the kids epi pen if needs be.

      5. Remember that the epi pen is not the solution. All it does is buy you extra time to get them medical treatment. Typically an extra 10-20 minutes. I don't know what it's like in the USA but here in an urban area 10 mins should be sufficient for an ambulance to arrive. In a rural area you might need 30 minutes. In a wild country area you might need an air ambulance to come. SO ensure that they bring multiple epi pens with them, sufficient to give time to get an ambulance or air ambulance to them.

      Remember that most kids who have grown up with this problem are well geared up for steering clear of nut based foods!

      Hope that helps.

      In another story we had a cub scout with a servere allergy to latex as well. Meant going through all the clothes in kit bags of other kids in his tent to check the labels for latex. Hours of fun!


      • #4
        My son has allergies to tree nuts, egg, and all dairy products. When my son started scouts my husband took on a leadership position, that way he was "in the know" about what was going on and would be in a position to keep our son safe. When he crossed into the troop we decided that we weren't going to put the responsibility of our son's health in the hands of other scouts. My son has his own chuck box, right down to cooking gear, stove and dish washing bins. I have seen how some of those boys "clean" camp gear and theere is just too much risk of cross contamination for me. We provide all my son's food and he prepares his own meals. We find out what the patrol has on their menu and we adapt his meals as close to theirs as we can. Breakfast is the worst as eggs are a staple on our campouts, but we make it work. When he had to cook for his patrol for a requirement he made chili, something he could have. My husband will cook for him occasionally but my son has gotten pretty good at meal planning can can cook better than most of the boys in the troop. My son also carries epi pens, always. He knows the signs of an allergic reaction and knows to point them out to someone. He has been trained with his epi pen but has never had to use it. Until I am comfortable that he can take care of emergencies himself or there is another adult who understands the seriousness of the situation, myself or my husband will be on all his outings. He is 12


        • #5
          You need to talk to Council about this.


          • #6
            Do what you are comfortable with. We are all volunteers. There should be no expectation, nor should you assume responsibility, for someone else's child with allergies. We have scouts that are REQUIRED to have an adult family member on outings with them (i.e. Autistic). If you feel comfortable taking on that challenge, by all means do. I am a licensed healthcare provider and if the food allergy is that severe - I'd opt for a famlity member to accompany and they cook their own stuff.

            I agree with the poster above that speaks of the risk for cross-contamination. We can try to accomodate, but its not mandatory that you take on responsibility for EVERY special situation that arises.



            • #7
              My son is in the same boat. I bought him a small Dutch Oven and his own cooking gear and he is very good at making (much the same thing) that everyone else is eating. This is something that We have been working at since he was 4. I would have a sit down with the parents and if your Scouts parents are not going to be involved with food purchase and prep as well as supervision; I would not hesitate to converse with them about priorities. I agree with Andy'sMom and would never shift that responsibility to someone else. Also, allergen free food is VERY expensive.


              • #8
                Our Troop has a Scout with a severe nut allergy, which also includes soy. We became a "no peanuts" Troop the minute he joined. His dad is very active and along on every campout, and the Scout is now old enough that he knows what he can have and can't have.

                I understand your concern. I hope you will be able to serve this Scout despite his allergy.


                • #9
                  Can we accept Darwinian ideals and accommodate these people?


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Scouter99 View Post
                    Can we accept Darwinian ideals and accommodate these people?
                    I beg your pardon?


                    • #11
                      I get what he's asking. I'm hoping that it was intended as humor (looking at that smiley thing).
                      The problem is the word 'ideals', as if someone is advocating for certain selective pressures as some kind of ideal situation. Fact is, we've been resisting selective pressures throughout all of our history, or at least trying to control them.


                      • #12
                        Darwinism...we may be evolving into the first known species whose body (immune and digestive system) killed it. Food allergies and intolerance (two different things) are increasing at an alarming rate. Currently about 1/4 of the scouts and adults in my unit have some food issue and for our unit peanuts is not the #1 problem, glutein is, followed by diary (lactose, casein, whey), then peanuts.

                        Back in the day, a PB&J with a glass of moo was the universal meal for kids.
                        Last edited by RememberSchiff; 06-20-2014, 06:09 AM.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by RememberSchiff View Post
                          Darwinism...we may be evolving into the first known species whose body (immune and digestive system) killed it. Food allergies and intolerance (two different things) are increasing at an alarming rate. Currently about 1/4 of the scouts and adults in my unit have some food issue and for our unit peanuts is not the #1 problem, glutein is, followed by diary (lactose, casein, whey), then peanuts.

                          Back in the day, a PB&J with a glass of moo was the universal meal for kids.
                          It's not a matter of evolution, it's a matter of living in too clean of an environment, IMHO. Kids aren't eating enough dirt as toddlers.


                          • #14
                            There are so many "studies" out there now that are showing that a lot of what we eat may or may not be an allergen. I just read a study that said that gluten allergen is a hoax, but Madison Avenue has made a fortune off of it.

                            With all the additives in processed foods today, who's to say which of the 50-75 ingredients in any one particular product is the culprit?

                            I understand such things as peanuts and shell fish are deadly and must be avoided at all cost. How many foods out there are processed with peanut oil? Good luck!

                            While it is noble to watch out for the other guy, turning one's own responsibilities over to another is a rather risky endeavor and I would not recommend it to anyone.

                            This whole thing came to my attention with one of my children. We moved to a new city when he was about 4 and within days my son developed a severe "allergy" to dairy. He loved cheese and butter, drank milk every day and all of a sudden he couldn't have any of these. Well, he would sneak them all the time and get violently ill. Well after 4 years we moved again, and my son kept on sneaking his dairy. Well, lo and behold, within days of moving, he NEVER has reacted negatively to dairy since. Well, I have no idea what was going on, but I think I can be pretty sure what we were calling a dairy allergy really wasn't.

                            To this day, I do not have a problem with mess-kit cooking and do it all the time. If I did have a problem with certain foods (which I do to a minor extent) then I can simply make the personal adjustments when I do my own cooking. Knowing that there are ingredients that will cause me problem in certain foods, I simply take a polite pass on them and do my own thing. Extra hot spicy Mexican/Southwestern meals will double me up in terrible pain, but super hot spicy Oriental will not. Go figure! I'm still trying to figure out what the difference is between the two.



                            • #15
                              I agree with DeanRx my son has HFA and I or his mother go on all outings just in case I think the kids parents should be in charge of the kids food and cooking if you charge of camp outs charge him less and let him and his parents deal with the food prep and cooking it is a great life skill that helps you get women.

                              I find it hard to believe that these parents are putting such and important role in your hands in the fist place. That just seems so wrong to me. If you child has needs that are that serous it is so wrong to ask untrained volunteer(not counting Scout training) to make sure my son is safe.

                              I tell all my sons Den leaders that he has HFA and things to say and do that stop his undesirable behaviour and I make sure I am close by just in case because I know they do not have any training in how to deal with someone in his case. So if he acts up they just need to speak loudly and I am there we do the same for Sunday school.

                              Long story short the parents and the child need to figure this out you are aware of the situation and yes banning peanuts might be a good idea but rules are also made to be broken.

                              This brings up a good point I might start a new thread about. Do you think that Cub scout and boy scout packs should be able to get epi pens for there first aid kits they such a life saving tool?