Food Allergy Awareness Camp from Ohio Heads to N.J. for Eighth YearLast Edited:
A food-allergy awareness group based out of Cincinnati, Ohio, comes to New Jersey each year to educate the community, accommodate the needs of children with food allergies, and help provide a safe space for them and their siblings.
According to experts, food allergies affect roughly 15 million Americans. Out of those affected, about six million are children.
“I felt very alone," said Garrow-Holding. "I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, what does this mean? I don’t know anything.' Which is why I continued to educate myself, and our family, and our friends.”
And so began The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team and Camp TAG.
Garrow-Holding and her team have been providing a safe space and fun camp for kids not only with food allergies and their non-allergic siblings but also for children with asthma and certain GI disorders.
Families and children ages 4 to 12 come from all over the country to be a part of Camp TAG. Garrow-Holding felt it just as important to include non-allergic siblings in the camp because the allergy affects them just as much as their siblings. The camp strives to give the campers the ability to advocate for themselves and their family members when it comes to their limitations.
“We were constantly in advocating mode," said Jana DiNatale. DiNatale has two children that have been going to Camp TAG for all eight years. "It was nice to come to camp and not have to be in that mode, to just come to a place where just kind of everybody understood. Eleanor understood exactly what they needed. She understands what had to be done to keep them safe and instead of being ‘the kid with the allergy,’ she was just a regular kid here.”
“It’s nice to know that you’re not alone, especially for the younger ones this year. I think they now see that there are more kids like them," said Cara Kelly, a camp-goer.
The award-winning Tall Pines Day Camp in Williamstown is already peanut and nut free, so Garrow-Holding knew they would be the perfect place to host Camp TAG in New Jersey.
During the week, Camp TAG campers get to experience zip lining, obstacle courses, and other outdoor activities, but they also have a food allergy and awareness education session every morning.
As campers reach the maximum age, they are invited back to become a camp counselor.
Before becoming a Camp TAG counselor, every counselor needs to go through the proper training to learn how to handle allergic reactions.
Each counselor is also equipped with a cooler that holds water bottles labeled with every camp-goers name, hand wipes to make sure everything gets sterilized, as well as life-saving medication just in case of an allergic reaction. Each camp goer brings their own medicine with them to camp every day. Campers are not allowed to participate without it.
For more information on food allergies or Camp TAG, go to foodallergyawareness.org.
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