Camp TAG (The Allergy Gang)
Camp TAG provides a safe place for children with food allergies, eosinophilic disorders and asthma and their non-allergic siblings to have fun – with no worries about allergic reactions – and meet other children who share similar experiences. It is a bonding and empowering week for all campers, including parents.
Camp TAG is 95% fun and 5% educational, with age-appropriate activities and games each day on food allergies, anaphylaxis, nutrition, the emotional impact of living with food allergies (for children with food allergies and their families), and how to stay safe at school and at home. The curriculum was designed and reviewed by FAACT's Medical Advisory Board.
Activities each day will include camp games, ropes course, climbing tower, canoeing, arts and crafts, music, swimming, pedal carts, miniature golf, Ga-ga, archery, mine chutes, and field sports such as soccer, basketball, baseball, flag football, lacrosse, and tennis.
This ONE-WEEK, DAY CAMP is designed specifically for children ages 4-13. For camp activities, children are grouped by ages to ensure experiences are age-appropriate:
- Ages 4-7
- Ages 8-10
- Ages 11-13
In 2019, camps will be held in:
- Lebanon, Ohio: June 10-14, 2019 at YMCA Camp Kern
- Nashville, Tennessee: June 24-28, 2019 at YMCA Camp Widjiwagan
- Huguenot, New York: July 29-August 2, 2019 at YMCA Camp Greenkill
REGISTRATION IS OPEN!
“Camp TAG was created because I wanted to send my son, Thomas, to camp, but worried about a reaction occurring during the camp day. I researched local camps, and none of them were able to accommodate his needs. As I continued my research, I found that there weren’t any types of specialized food allergy camps for kids anywhere in the country. I then decided to start our own camp. Camp TAG (The Allergy Gang) was actually named after my children. TAG stands for Thomas Andrew and Anne Garrow, and they share the “A” as they share their life experiences of managing food allergies on a daily basis. I also wanted the camp to include siblings because I have one child with and one child without food allergies. Siblings are also just as affected and advocate just as much for their affected siblings. I wanted my children, along with all of your children, to enjoy the camp experience together.” – Eleanor Garrow-Holding
Volunteer Teen Counselor Positions Available
Teens with food allergies, ages 14+, or a sibling of someone with a food allergy, ages 14+, may apply to become volunteer teen camp counselors. Camp TAG provides one counselor for every five children. We'd really like to see the teens apply for counselor positions because they can relate to the campers and act as mentors.
No tuition is required for volunteer teen counselor positions (except in New York). Teens may receive community services hours for their time, which averages about 35-40 hours for the week. If interested, please email Eleanor.Garrow@FoodAllergyAwareness.org for an application when registration opens in January 2019.
Medications are checked in each day in the morning and checked out each afternoon when you pick your child up from camp. We do not keep medication overnight. There are camp nurses on site at all times. The counselor of your child’s group will be carrying the child’s medications in a portable cooler on wheels (room temperature) so all medications are with your child the entire time. Every camper must have a medical/health plan completed, which is included in the registration packet.
Each camper is responsible for bringing his/her own lunch Monday through Thursday. To ensure the safety of campers with food allergies, some of the “top 8” allergens are prohibited at camp, including peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish. We stress the importance – and ease – of cleaning hands and not sharing foods to help build healthy habits for all campers. Campers and counselors must use WetOnes® hand wipes during check in each morning, before and after morning snack and lunch times, and any other time needed throughout the day.
* WetOnes® Ingredients:
Active Ingredient: Benzethonium Chloride (0.3%). Inactive Ingredients: Water, SD Alcohol 40, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, PEG-60 Lanolin, Quaternium-52, PEG-8 Dimethicone, Fragrance, Sodium
Caprylcamphopropionate, Disodium EDTA, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Citric Acid.
YMCA Camp Kern, YMCA Camp Widjiwagan, and YMCA Camp Greenkill already have a peanut- and tree nut-free policy in place, therefore, all food brought in must be free of those ingredients. Camp TAG provides bottled water for every camper each day to eliminate the need for parents to pack drinks for campers. No drinks are allowed to be brought in during the week.
- Foods with wheat, egg, milk, and soy are allowed, such as sandwich bread, crackers, and cookies (must be free of peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish).
- Milk/cheese-based foods are not allowed, such as cheese of any kind, Cheetos, Cheez-It Crackers, Doritos, yogurt, etc., to minimize the risk of cross-contact.
- Egg-based condiments are not allowed, such as mayonnaise, dressings, dips, etc., to minimize the risk of cross-contact.
In addition, Camp TAG provides allergy-friendly snacks free of the "top 8" (plus free from gluten, sesame, potato, sulfites, casein) in the morning and afternoon for every camper from Enjoy Life Foods.
Each camper will be required to clean his/her hands with hand wipes when they arrive at camp each morning and before and after snacks and lunch.
Please see the location you are interested in for the Registration fees. Tuition payments must be made in full online at time of registration or a check sent via mail to:
P.O. Box 511
West Chester, OH 45071
Please email Eleanor.Garrow@FoodAllergyAwareness.org with any questions!
Education for Campers & Counselors
There will be an education session implemented during the education portion of the week for the campers and counselors on how to recognize signs & symptoms of anaphylaxis and how to use an epinephrine auto-injector (with trainers).
In July 2011, the inaugural Camp TAG was launched at Tall Pines Day Camp in Williamstown, New Jersey. A second camp was offered in August 2011 at the Sandy Springs Friends School in Sandy Springs, Maryland. Created as a place for kids with food allergies to just be kids, the experience was made memorable not only by the fun activities but also by the fact that the kids felt safe and reassured in an environment free from their food allergies. Through the hard work of Camp TAG founder Eleanor Garrow, the camp staff, and many volunteers, we were thrilled that Camp TAG was a total success! However, don’t just take our word for it. Read what some of the parents and volunteers had to say about the experience.
“…it was AMAZING!!!! It was the most inspiring, empowering experience we’ve ever been able to provide [our daughter] with. It was the first and probably the only program we have ever sent [our daughter] to that we didn’t have to even worry about the food situation, and for [her] younger brother, it was a good opportunity to teach food allergy awareness and safety.” ~ Julie
“I can’t thank Eleanor Garrow-Holding enough for Camp TAG. It was a wonderful experience for my 4-year-old son to be educated by people (adults and children) other than myself, husband, and family on food allergies.” ~ Kerri
“I have to say that Camp TAG is not only great for the kids, but for us parents as well. It means so much to me to meet other parents of food allergy kids who know what life is like trying to keep our kids safe! Thank you so much for all your hard work!! This is the best week ever!” ~ Lisa
“My son had so much fun today and cannot wait to go back tomorrow. Thank you to Eleanor Garrow-Holding and all the volunteers at Camp TAG for making my son’s dream of going to camp come true!!” ~ Amanda
“Camp TAG is so amazing in so many ways. It’s already made a huge difference in my son’s life. We are excited for the rest of the week …I loved how the kids at my table were all comparing their allergy bracelets and loving them like accessories and not having to feel different – instead a new sense of belonging!” ~ Kim
“I just wanted to let you know that you did an OUTSTANDING job putting this together and that ALL the children left with a new feeling of comfort with both their feelings about their allergies and meeting new children who have the same conditions as they do.” ~Frank