Gluten-free summer camps can provide an incredibly valuable experience for children with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, giving them the chance to feel "normal" and to enjoy summer activities without constantly worrying about food (and feeling different from their peers).
If you want your child to attend a gluten-free summer camp, most camps issue their schedules in January (or at the latest, in February). Here's a rundown of various gluten-free summer camp sessions for 2013.
Location: Camp Arroyo, San Francisco Bay
Dates: July 23-27, July 27-July 31
Details: Back for its seventh year, Camp Celiac's counselors and attendees (ages nine through 17) eat gluten-free food and do camp activities such as a ropes course, rock climbing, zip line, boating, swimming, and outdoor sports. According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, which supports the camp, enjoying three meals a day without having to ask if any of the foods are gluten-free is life-changing for many campers and staff. The camp costs only $25, since most expenses are covered by the Taylor Family Foundation, the East Bay Regional Parks District, and the YMCA, along with the Celiac Sprue Research Foundation and the Celiac Disease Foundation.
Registration for the 2013 sessions opened Feb. 1, 2013.
Location: Campfire USA Camp Nawakwa, near Big Bear
Dates: July 15-19
Details: The Celiac Disease Foundation is holding its own gluten-free camp for the second time in 2013. The camp, located in the San Bernardino mountains near Big Bear, is open to campers ages 7 to 17. Campers will enjoy gluten-free food and regular camp activities, including enjoy archery, arts and crafts, canoeing, cookouts, drama, hip hop dance, nature lore, swimming and wall climbing. The camp costs $450.
Location: Camp Aldersgate, North Scituate, R.I.
Dates: Aug. 11-16, 2013
Details: Camp Celiac, supported by the Celiac Sprue Association, is open to children ages 8 through 16. All food provided is gluten-free, and two full-time registered nurses will be onsite to take care of non-emergency medical needs. The cost of the camp is $430. The camp fills up very fast, so make reservations as early as possible.
Registration for the 2013 session opened Feb. 1, 2013.
Location 1: GIG Kids Camp East, Camp Kanata, Wake Forest, N.C.
Dates: Aug. 4-10, 2013
Details: GIG Kids Camps are mainstream, integrated camps, where kids must be aware of what foods are safe and not safe, ask questions and talk to others about their eating restrictions. Camp counselors are trained by GIG Staff. Gluten-free substitutions are available for meals and all activities. Some scholarships are available. Spots at Camp Kanata frequently fill up by February, so it helps to get your application in early.
Location 2: GIG Kids Camp West, Camp Sealth, Vashon Island, Wash.
Dates: July 31-Aug. 5, Aug. 6-9, combined July 31-Aug. 9, 2013
Like Camp Kanata, Camp Sealth is a mainstream summer camp that features gluten-free food options. Camp Sealth also is peanut-free, and can accommodate campers with both celiac and diabetes.
Location: Camp Twin Lakes in Warm Springs, Ga.
Dates: June 23-28, 2013
Details: Camp Weekaneatit (We-can-eat-it get it?), sponsored by the Georgia R.O.C.K. group, provides children and teens ages eight to 17 who have celiac disease and gluten sensitivity the chance to participate in a traditional summer camp. Activities include swimming, kayaking, archery, rock climbing and arts and crafts. Everything on the menu and at the snack canteen is entirely gluten-free, and the camp will work to accommodate other food allergies and intolerances. Because cabin space is limited, campers will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. The fee is $600 per camper, although you can get an "early bird" special of $550 if you register and pay before Feb. 15. Siblings also receive a discount.
Location: Camp Westminster, northern Michigan
Dates: June 16-22, 2013
Details: Camp Westminster provides a Christian summer camp experience that includes retreats and outdoor summer worship in an allergy-friendly atmosphere. In 2011, the camp's gluten-free week is called Free to Be Me. It's aimed at children in grades 1 through 9 and costs $455. Camperships (i.e., scholarships) also are available. During the gluten-free week Westminster also can handle other allergies, and the camp staff says the camp can accommodate children who need a gluten-free diet during any week of summer camp with prior notice.
Location: Camp Gilmont, Gilmer, Tex.
Dates: June 16-21, 2013
Details: The Dallas chapter of R.O.C.K. sponsors the Great Gluten Escape to provide campers the opportunity to participate in all camp activities without any concern for the gluten content of the food provided. The camp is open to children ages 7 to 15, and costs $450 for five nights. The camp cannot accept children with diabetes, autism or Down syndrome.
Registration opened in February for the 2013 session.
Location:Jameson Camp, Indianapolis.
Dates: June 25-28, 2013
Details:Camp Gluten Freedom is an entirely gluten-free camp for children and adolescents ages 8 through 14, sponsored by the organization Gluten Free Living Now. It's also open (by request) to friends of gluten-free campers who do not follow the gluten-free diet, but all food served will be gluten-free. Campers will participate in traditional camp activities such as swimming, ziplining, rock wall climbing and hiking. Cost is $350.