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how to handle peanut allergies on camping trips?

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You need to give the scouts more credit than to just say He needs to bring his own food.


As said above take it as another lesson for the scouts in his patrol. Food Allergies need to be delt with in this world.


We have taught our kids about peanut allergies because they have a friend that is allergic. They are actually better at remembering about the allergy than we are some times.


Give your scouts credit and teach them how to deal with it and what to do if he has a reaction.

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From what we've been told here in this forum, the boy is severely allergic. For the boy, this is a life and death issue. I don't think it's the time to play scout and worry about the patrol method.


My son has a classmate who has a severe peanut allergy. One day a boy sitting at the lunch table with the boy opened a snickers bar. Within minutes the boy with the allergy ended up in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.


This is very real for some people and it is not something to take lightly.

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If the boy is this allergic, then the boys do need an education in how to handle allergies. There should be NO peanut containing foods allowed on/at Scouting events. Bringing his own food won't be the solution either. As leaders, it would be our responsibility to check snack and make sure that nothing contains peanuts of any kind.

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If the Troop continues to do Troop cooking, make him the grubmaster. Then you know for sure that peanuts won't be making an appearance.

As others have said, give the Scouts credit and teach them about the allergy.

I would teach everyone in the Troop how to use the epipen, not just the older Scouts and leaders. He may be on a hike with the younger ones when someone pulls out homemade trailmix, and the others might not be around. As stated, talk with the GP, or see if one of the parents is a RN or medic. Have them help train everyone and use oranges for real injection practice.

Find out where the kid keeps his epipen. Does he have one or two pens.

When we go camping my son always has one on him, and I have a spare just incase, he looses his or it gets broke. We have had both happen. Last year while on camp staff, he had a coon grab his fannie pack that had his pen and a candy bar in it. They last saw the pen and coon making a fast exit into the woods never to be seen again.

I have a friend that over the last two years has developed a similar airborne allergy to chocolate. I didn't find out about it until Labor Day at a powwow at her rez. when I walk into our canopy with chocolate syrup on something and my wife and other friends informed me. Later when I asked Sandy about it and where she kept her epipen, she took my hand and patted her thigh. It was in a pocket hanging on the inside of her full legnth skirt. I would have never thought of looking there.

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  • 3 years later...

I found this post looking for ideas and feedback on how we can transition our 11 year old from Cub Scouts into Boy Scouts.


When our son was in Cubs, it was fairly easy to ask parents to not bring snacks with nuts, and very quickly, some of the boys became our son's advocate, telling their parents that their friend has allergies (our son has various levels of allergies - nut and shellfish are the epi-pen and hospital trip kind, soy, wheat, and others are less severe, but all in all add up to a mostly fruit and veggies diet).


Now that he is entering Boy Scouts, we have been working with the leaders to come up with a reasonable plan for overnight camp-outs, and next year, how to handle back country and Scout camp.


As a rule, people have become much more informed about Allergies over the last five years or so, and we rarely run into people who don't believe or want to challenge it.


We just completed our first overnight with the troop, I attended and we brought our own food, so he can cook and eat with the troop, but safely.


We are looking for ways to handle Scout camp next year and in the near future, a 50-miler. I appreciate the thoughts and feedback of everyone on the boards, and I am happy to share what we learn.



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I think for the backpacking and other long outings, you have a pretty big challenge. Finding non-perishables without nuts, soy and wheat is going to be tricky.


Does he have any issues with dairy products?


My only real suggestion is to find your local freeze dried food supplier and read the heck out of the labels. Granola (even nut free) is out, protein bars are mostly out, jerky is out.


I think for Scout camp, you'll probably be ok for the most part...but he has to be able to identify the foods and be assertive enough to ask questions (even being rude about it) until he gets answers.


The longer more isolated trips should be the bigger concern...if you have had to use the Epi-pen in the past, do you recall how long it is effective? That would dictate how far from communications your Scout can be, how many Pens have to be carried.


Depending on how fast he reacts, all the adults in the troop and most of the Scouts have to be trained on the Epi-pen...assuming that your boy cannot react fast enough to self-inject.


Good luck.



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Since you have been given responsibility, I think this is a reasonable request.


There was a study done in New Zealand a couple years ago where they proved that about 90% of peanut allergy tests yielded false positive results. THe only way to really know for certain was to check into the hospital and eat a bowl of peanuts. If there is a reaction, it can be treated swiftly and safely. If not, you're not allergic to peanuts.


I've been doing a lot of flying for work recently and was given a bag of peanuts on every flight. Airplanes aren't known for having the freshest air, so it would stand to reason that with all the anecdotal stories of people swelling up and dying from airborne peanuts allergies, it if was really that serious, no airline in the world would risk the lawsuits.


We know a kid who has a peanut allergy and his parents did hte hospital test to prove it. He is on a team with my son. One day at a team meeting, someone brought in a 5 lb bag of peanuts in the shell which everyone proceeded to eat over the net few days. This boy was not at the first meetings but we called his mom and she said not to worry about it.


We were kind of looking for an excuse to try out the epi-pen (just kidding)


Seriously though, before you have to make every other person in the troop change their habits to handle the one scout, ask them and their doctor to prove to you the validity of the problem.

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Raisin - I know that there is a non-negligible occurance of false positives for food allergy tests, but I'm not familiar with the particular study you're referring to (and a cursory Google search didn't turn up anything) - can you point me to a reference to that study? Most of the studies I've found cite a "false positive" statistic much lower than the 90% you refer to.


I think there's a good point to be made: That severity of peanut allergies can vary widely between mild to life-threatening. And mild allergies are far more common than the life-threatening variety.


My advice in this type of situation is for the parents, the Scout and the troop's adult leadership to have a frank conversation about the severity of that particular Scout's allergy; the Scout's dietary needs and restrictions; and how to handle emergency situations. If the Scout has an EpiPen, he should have it with him at all troop outings, and the other scouts in his patrol should be familiar with how to use it.


I think you'll find that it's pretty easy to make accommodations for weekend "plop and drop" camping, as well as summer camp. For troop outings, the patrol needs to determine what meals are appropriate for the whole patrol. It may be that your son will need to bring or prepare food for just himself, if it's not feasible or fair to the patrol to make a whole-patrol meal that can accommodate him. At summer camp, if food is provided by the camp, the camp shouldn't have any problem providing special food for your son, provided you share accurate information with the camp staff in advance.


Backpacking and other high adventure activities may prove to be more of a challenge. It depends on the types of food your son can eat, and whether the nutritional value is adequate for the types of activities on the trip. If more than a "normal" amount of food is required, or if your son requires separate food from the rest of the group, you may have a problem. But that type of situation is probably a little ways off for a brand new Scout, so you should have some time to see how his patrol does with menu planning at "normal" camp outs, and see how much creativity will be needed for high adventure.



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I'm fairly certain that going into your local hospital and performing a peanut challenge test on a child would considered child endangerment or child abuse.


It issue with skin testing has been improper testing methods and subjective interpretation of results.


Skin tests are based on a visual analysis of comparative results. There are many variables.


1) Presence of histamine or leukotriene inhibitors in the patients system.

2) Other allergies that may be causing a histamine response.

3) Accuracy of the control and test serums.


The determination of a positive result is a comparison of the skin response of the two control serums vs. the test serum. If the test serum response is greater than the control, then the patient is considered allergic...the size of the response indicates the level of sensitivity.


In my daughters case, the negative control produced a 1 mm response, the positive control produced a 3 mm response and the peanut serum produced a 34 mm response. Even today, at age 20, skin contact with peanut products produces hives on her hands.


There is also now a blood test for peanut allergy that is 97% accurate...




Doctors, being fearful of malpractice suits, are more likely to suggest positive results on marginal interpretations.


Also, the Epi-pen is not a 100% solution. Even with Epi-pen's a severely allergic patient can die anyway.


If you have anyone who demands a challenge test for Scouting....do not walk, run.



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Food allergies.....


How many are imagined and how many are real?????


Had a mom fail to tell me her wolf son was "allergic" to carrots. Took the young man hiking, pulled out my stove and made a big pot of ramen noodles with dehydrated veggies and added chicken. Well young man didn't eat his lunch but ate half of mine.....Got back to the drop off point, he was telling mom about the delicous lunch he had that had these orange things in it......mom was mad and told me that her son was deathly allergic to carrots.....really?????? Same lad peanut butter, the kid ate all my nutterbutters and half my reese cup.....


It has been my experience that most food allergies are made up, the kid or parent doesn't like a type of food so he is allergic.....


Had one mom tell us not to feed her son veggies because it gives him gas.....guess what pepper, onions and jalepenos on the faijtas got me too.....

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I appreciate the feedback from everyone.


While I understand the frustration of the Scouters who who have experienced 'made up allergies', I am dealing with the kind of kid that carries an epi-pen, that I have seen have reactions such as hives, wheezing, difficulty breathing, etc. dozens of times and have personally made numerous trips to the emergency room with.


As some advice for all the Scouters who I get the feeling are tired of dealing with the

fake allergies', I would treat each one as a serious allergy and have a sit down meeting with the Scout and the parents. They need to list the allergies, list the reactions, explain and show the treatment. If a parent can do all of this and the boy wears a medic-alert bracelet and carries a fanny pack with epi-pens, benadryl and emergency contact info, you can be sure that no one is 'faking it'.


If they can't produce all of it, than perhaps you are dealing with a food intolerance (yes, onions give you gas) or a dislike of a specific food. Either way, you are ensuring the safety of the boy and making the parents accountable without you ending up in a bad situation for a real allergy 100 miles from the nearest hospital (which is the only place that can deal with anaphylaxis).


Thanks again all.

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As I read through this thread, I was thinking how great the lesson potential is for the other scouts that don't have exposure to these things, to learn how to deal with them.....


.... but also i was thinking that it's a real shame that the other boys would have to so severly alter their diets and actions.... no trail mix, no PB&J, no snickers bars..... at the risk of using an 'f' word I don't like, it's not really 'fair' to the other boys....


Someone suggested that the troop be educated, but not by the parents. I was thinking the same thing. I know not realistic, but wouldn't it be great if the parents of the alergic kid could arrange to have his doctor, dietician, or some other proffesional that is knowledgeable about his condition (re how real it is, and how severe..) make a troop presentation? It could be a real learning moment....

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> We are looking for ways to handle Scout camp next year and in the near future, a 50-miler.


Hopefully, the Scout camp kitchen will accommodate you. We have one that did but stopped (we'd always go the first week to make it easier on them). When they stopped, the family made their own food and stayed out of the dining hall. The other camp we normally attend will also work with us.


As for the long backcountry trips, your son will likely need to fix and eat on his own given the amount of stuff that affects him since nearly all typical backpacking food will contain some of those ingredients.


Our troop has a father and 2 sons that are severely allergic to peanuts and less so with a few other things. Our troop has banned nuts at any event and we make sure all Scouts and parents know that when they join and we often remind them. We do it even if those 3 do not attend an event. We've only had one incident in the 5 years they've been with us. Went cabin camping and apparently some residue left on a tabletop sent one boy to the hospital and he missed a week of school.

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A friend of mine and their daughter were in the original trials for the peanut treatment mentioned in that link. at first they started with microscopic particles of peanut, smaller than what you'd get as a residue on a table after eating peanut butter sandwich. They worked up very very very slowly from there, so now their daughter can eat peanut butter sandwiches but she doesnt' really like them. She has to eat something with peanuts every day in order to keep from having a reaction, which is interesting, because I also know some small kids with peanut reactions that seem to crave the peanuts, so there may be something in the immune system telling them to keep the exposure level constant to avoid worsening symptoms somehow.


We have a peanut allergic scout in our troop.

He does have an epipen, he hasn't had any recent reactions and he's 12.


He and his family are getting a bit non-chalant about it, hard to explain why I get that feeling, but like well if he has a rection we have an epi pen so we aren't goin to make sure everyone knows of the allergy or ask for an allergy free troop, even though I know they made the pack they came from be completely nut free for their kid. I'm not sure if they think he's old enough to handle it, or if they think he's outgrowing it, or something else.


For the most part, the scout only eats things his parents bring. seems not just because of peanuts but because his parents like to go on most of his outings and they bring his favorite food, and even if his patrol is peanut free, the food his parents brought is always better.


There is another scout in the patrol whose mom is peanut allergic, so that scout brought food for the patrol campout before last and it was difficult to get the scout to eat with his patrol. Last weekend's campout the scout who bought food promised to read all labels and they remove peanut butter and jelly from the menu even though they thought maybe they'd just change to sunbutter and jelly. so the scout ate with them on that campout a little bit. He may not trust anyone else, I understand that.


But I know when we have food at courts of honor, there is always something with peanuts, often peanut butter cookies or fudge. Because the parents don't want to make a big deal out of it, and the committee and scoutmaster doesn't see the need I guess. It seems like an accident waiting for a place to happen.

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