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Accommodating Special Diets

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Ok, so I thought I'd try the "spin-off" button since the peanut-allergy thread caught my attention.


I wasn't sure whether to put this in Camping or Summer Camp, since it applies to both.


I would really like to hear ideas about how different troops handle special diets -- from food allergies to diabetes -- when camping with their troops.


I'll start with my specific situation, but I am extremely interested in hearing about others' experiences, whether similar or different from mine.


In our troop, we have at least two adult leaders who are sensitive to wheat and one (me) who is sensitive to gluten. At various times we have also had boys who have been allergic to milk. During the cub scout years one of my boys had a fellow cub in his den who couldn't eat anything that came from cows -- neither dairy nor beef. Based on family history, my younger son's counselor has suggested a gluten-free diet for him to see if it alleviates some ADD-like symptoms. I don't know whether to hope that it solves all his problems, or to hope that after his 6-month trial is over he goes back to a regular diet. It's easy enough for me to take along my own food for short-term camping trips, (and it's no big deal at home because my mom and sister are also acutely gluten-intolerant) but it's much harder to know how to handle it at summer camp.


Before my son went GF, I asked one of the camp directors at one of our local Scout camps whether I could bring my RV (and therefore my kitchen) to summer camp (parking it in the parking lot) so I could provide my own food (this is a mess-hall style camp). I wasn't told "no" but I was assured that all I had to do was talk to the kitchen staff and they'd accommodate my diet; but I don't see how it's possible knowing that they buy everything off the truck in cans from Sysco. As with a nut allergy, almost the only way to eat gluten-free is to avoid processed foods all together... and unprocessed foods don't keep well without refrigeration, hence my desire to bring my own kitchen to camp. I become completely useless as a leader if I get one contaminated meal and have to spend the rest of the week in the KYBO. It becomes even more important if my son is still GF by the time summer camp rolls around, even though his symptoms aren't as severe as mine... this is the camp our troop is going to next summer.


I could cook meals (possibly for myself AND the other adult leaders who have to avoid wheat) and bring them to the mess hall so we could eat with the boys, but I've seen that kitchen and I don't believe for a moment that they could provide me with anything I could live on for the week. (Part of what complicates things for me is that I ALSO have other food allergies, so even the idea of sitting down with a camp chef and trying to explain what I can and can't eat and how hit can and can't be prepared is really daunting).



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One thing you can do is get their menu and see what you can/cannot work around. For example if they are having sliced ham, scalloped potatoes, a roll, and green beans you can ask them to check on the ham and scalloped potatoes with Sysco and once this information comes back you can make the items (or their replacements) on your own and bring them in.


Of course they can always tell you your diet is too difficult to accommodate, but if you don't talk to them you'll never know :)


I ran a Gluten Free camp for twenty kids who also had various other allergies last month for 25 kids while we had several other groups at our camp and we were able to make it work. It can be done but they have to be willing to work with you. One way to convince them is to suggest that any information they gather regarding gluten free menu items for you can be utilized to help them throughout the rest of the year for any other celiac campers they might have.




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That's a good point. I might be willing to sit down with them at the start of the summer and help them figure out how to accommodate those with wheat or gluten issues. The nice thing is that anything they do to remove gluten from a kid's menu would also work for anybody with a wheat allergy -- so it kills two birds with one stone. BUT -- I am concerned about their ability to avoid cross-contamination as well.


In your example, I would guess that Sysco ham would be somewhat questionable, and I would be absolutely floored if the scalloped potatoes didn't contain wheat. I can eat baked potatoes and bring my own pasta and sauce (which don't require refrigeration), but whether they can be cooked in a way that doesn't contaminate them is another issue.


They are saying now that Celiac Disease affects about 1 in 150 people in the U.S., although diagnosis is just starting to catch up. At a camp the size of this one, that means at least 4 or 5 campers each week (including adults and Scouts) probably suffer from CD... and as awareness grows and diagnosis becomes more common, more and more of them will know it and need accommodation. So I think I will contact the camp again and volunteer to meet with the head cook at the start of the summer.


I have a friend with C.D. who is also a nurse... maybe if I brought her along that would help, too. I think her son is a boy scout, too (although he's not C.D.)



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Just get the Troop to start outpost camping for summercamp. It has ben years since our roop has stayed in main camp or went to the dining hall. We do all of our own cooking. My son has red dye and dairy intolerance's, not true allergies. They interfere with his neurochemistry. When we go camping, our family usually will supply his cheese and rice milk. Dan is good at checking out labels for red dye.


A few years back, Dan and I went on a 50 miler with another Troop. They went way out of their way to accommodate Dan. They bought the rice milk and cheese. They used the rice milk in their recipes that called for milk. That made for some different consistencies. We found out that rice and soy milk doesn't set up well in pudding.


While working on camp staff the last two years, the kitchen made every effort to accommodate him. We would send the milk to camp. They offered to run out to the nearby grocer and order rice or soy ice cream for him.


Good luck.

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