Summer Camp Options for Food Allergic, Gluten-Free and Vegan Kids

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Summer Camps for Vegans and Kids with Food Allergies, Intolerances, or Celiac DiseaseUpdated for 2016! Sending a child to camp for the first time can be a scary proposition for any parent, let alone the parent of a little one (or teen!) with special needs. Fortunately, there are now enough food allergy camps, gluten-free camps, and even vegan camps to warrant this pretty lengthy listing (which we update annually!).

Big List of Gluten-Free, Vegan and Food Allergy Camps for Kids

Children with food allergies, intolerances, or diet-related conditions like Celiac disease require special care in the camp kitchens, dining halls, and anywhere food is involved. Several of the camps listed below have emerged with programs specifically designed to create a safe environment for free-from tots.

In addition to Celiac aware and food allergy camps, there are now many camps that also offer, or focus on, vegan food (dairy-free, egg-free, meat-free). These camps tend to emphasize wholesome kid-friendly cuisine, social responsibility, and many even grow quite a bit of the food on site.

See the listings below for more information on the various summer camp programs that cater to kids with special diet needs (the food allergy / celiac friendly ones are listed first, followed by the camps offering vegan options), and be sure to register soon! Many camps have already opened their registration for the coming summer, and some camp rosters can fill up quickly …

Big List of Gluten-Free, Vegan and Food Allergy Camps for Kids

Camp Emerson

Website: www.campemerson.com

Location: Berkshire Mountains, MA

Description:

Wow, I wish camp looked like this when I was a kid (see photo above). For the full blown summer experience, Camp Emerson looks like the place.

Though it is a somewhat “traditional” sleepaway camp (if by traditional you mean tennis, waterskiing, and martial arts classes are par for the course), Camp Emerson is described as “The Food Allergy Specialist”. They support dairy, nut, wheat, soy, egg and fish allergies, and gluten free foods are always available. They even have a full time Registered Dietitian who works with each food allergy family to prepare their child’s own menu for camp. You can see their very detailed Food Allergy Brochure for more details.

Camp Blue Spruce

Website: www.campbluespruce.org

Location: Banks, OR

Description:

Camp Blue Spruce is a “worry-free camp for kids with food allergies” – according to their website and information provided. It is a 5-day, sleepaway camp for kids ages 10-14 that promises all of the traditional camping activities, such as hiking, campfires, swimming, field games, and arts & crafts. But unlike “ordinary” camps, Blue Spruce only cooks up meals and snacks that are free of the top allergenic foods, including: dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, soy, gluten and sesame.

Their cooks prepare most of the food from scratch, using fresh ingredients. All the manufactured products at Camp Blue Spruce are carefully vetted and will mostly come from allergen-aware companies. Plus, a professional team of medical staff will be on hand – 24 hours a day throughout the camp session. All this, and a beautiful Oregon camp setting, too!

Camp TAG

Website: www.foodallergyawareness.org

Location: Lebanon, OH; Atlanta, GA; Big Bear City, CA; Williamstown, NJ; Hinsdale, MA

Description:

It’s back! Camp TAG, now run by FAACT, was created as a safe place specifically for kids with food allergies, eosinophilic disorders, asthma, and non-allergic siblings, ages 4-12. Teens, ages 13+, can serve as volunteer teen counselors and receive community service hours for the week – about 35-40 hours for the week.They describe it as a “bonding and empowering” 5-day camp for kids and their parents with “95% fun and 5% educational” activities. Kids are divided into two activity groups (ages 4-8 and ages 9-12), there are two full-time nurses on staff, and the curriculum was designed and reviewed by FAACT’s Medical Advisory Board. As of 2016, Camp TAG now has 5 locations (each with a single 5-day sessiono) across the U.S.

Camp Ye bik’ehgo

Website: www.arizonafoodallergy.org

Location: Tempe, AZ

Description:

Ye bik’ehgo (pronounced yeh-bee-kheeh-goo) is the Native American Apache word for RESPONSIBLE. This is a 3-day half-day summer day camp for kids with food allergies, and their friends & siblings. They mix typical day camp activities with lessons emphasizing things like self confidence and how to deal with bullies. The camp has on-site medical professional to handle medication and food allergy action plans, no more than 1:6 adult:child ratio, adult and child training regarding signs of allergic reaction and anaphylaxis, and more.

Camp Wingate*Kirkland

Website: www.campwk.com

Location: Cape Cod, MA

Description:

We received this great email directly from the camp: “We are a peanut, tree nut and sesame-free camp located on Cape Cod, MA. We easily accommodate other food allergies as well including, dairy, egg, soy and wheat.” This is a is a co-ed, overnight camp (with long sessions ranging from 2 to 7 weeks) for children ages 7 to 15.

Camp Sloane

Website: www.campsloane.org

Location: Lakeville, CT

Description:

Viewer Mary emailed this recommendation: “This post for food allergy camps prompted me to finally bite the bullet and contact the summer camp director at the YMCA camp where my older two non allergic children are going this summer. It is a sleep away camp (with day camp as well) in the Berkshires in Lakeville, CT and also happens to be the place where I met my husband. It is an incredibly special, positive place and I have been so afraid to find out whether my youngest could ever go. I heard back from the camp director tonight with a wonderful response letting me know that the camp has been entirely nut free since 2009 (!!!!!) and that they do not allow any products with nuts or risk of CC into camp!!! So, so happy that my kiddo will have this option but also wanted to share in case anyone is looking for a nut safe camp that happens to be about the most special place on earth.”

The handbook at Camp Sloane also states: “We can accommodate most food allergies, and encourage parents to contact camp if their camper has special dietary needs.”

The Center for Courageous Kids

Website: www.thecenterforcourageouskids.org

Location: Scottsville, KY

Description:

The Center for Courageous Kids® is designed specifically for the child living with medical challenges who could not attend a traditional camp. A 501(c)(3) not for profit organization, we are dedicated to uplifting children living with chronic or life-threatening illnesses. Our campus includes our Medical Center and helipad, Equestrian Center, Bowling Alley, Indoor Swimming Complex, Gymnasium and Climbing Wall, Lodges, Dining Hall and Theater….and so much MORE. But it’s the amazing children and their wonderful families who fill these 168 acres with the sounds of laughter, singing and silliness.

They used to offer a weekend sleepaway retreat for severe food allergies, but we didn’t note that on their schedule for this year. However, they have special weekends for kids (and their families – yes parents attend too!) with autism, Celiac disease, and various other conditions, and their application form for all camps includes providing information about food allergies.

The YWCA / AAIA Outdoor Education Center

Website: www.ywcayowochas.org/summer_programs.htm

Location: Edmonton, AB

Description:

In partnership with Alberta Allergy Information Association, the YWCA center used to host one sleepaway camp a year for children with severe food allergies. Unfortunately, that specific camp was discontinued, but for all of their camps they still reportedly run a nut aware facility. Their kitchen does not use any products that have nuts and “we avoid food suppliers who list that their products may contain any nuts.” As a result, they have many children who are anaphylactic to nuts attend their summer camp and have a great experience. They also do their best to accommodate other food allergies.

Camp Interlaken

Website: www.campinterlaken.org

Location: Eagle River, WI

Description:

This is a Jewish sleepaway camp, and according to an article I read on camps for food allergies, they are nut-free. This isn’t stated directly on their website, so I would contact them directly to clarify. They are probably able to accomodate other food allergy issues, particularly milk, since some camp attendees may keep strictly kosher. Again, contact them directly to find out.

NJY Camps

Website: www.njycamps.org

Location: Milford, PA

Description:

Directly from the camp: “Located in the beautiful Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, NJY Camps are able to work with almost every food allergy and food allergy combination. With a dedicated GIG (Gluten Intolerance Group) certified kosher kitchen, NJY Camps offers children the opportunity to go to camp with their non-allergic friends. Meals are matched to the main kitchen menu and campers eat at their bunk tables with their friends. The kitchen is supervised by a celiac mom and every staff member, whether food service staff, bunk staff or head staff, is trained in working with campers with food intolerances. There is a full medical staff including eight nurses and three doctors on staff fulltime to ensure the health and safety of all of our campers and staff. NJY has four camps that offer a variety of options for attendance from one week to full summer (see their website for dates). They also offer family weekends in which the whole family can come and enjoy playing outside!!”

Challenge Camp

Website: challengecamps.com

Location: Rye, NY

Description:

From my friend Cheryl: “I had an amazing experience with a chef who totally ‘got it’ for my son, at Challenge Camp in Westchester County. Wrote a piece about it – if you want to be filled with hope that chefs like that exist, I recently shared it on freedible. My sense was it was a mix: the camp supported the chef (who has worked at the camp for years) in her amazing approach – and when I say supported, I mean that she was authorized to order top-8 free blueberry pops for the WHOLE camp because it was the only one of the options that worked for both my son AND the several kids there with celiac diagnoses. Frankly, that’s impressive!”

According to the camp’s website: “If your child has a food allergy(s) or concerns please let us know and Chef Carrie will ensure that a meal consistent with your child’s dietary restrictions is available. Challenge Camp is a Nut Free camp, and can accommodate most dietary requirements. Our caterer will work directly with concerned parents to ensure we can meet your camper’s needs.”

Camp Celiac – Rhode Island

Website: www.campceliac.org

Location: N. Scituate, RI

Description:

As the name implies, this is a sleepaway camp catering specifically to kids wit Celiac disease. Therefore their entire menu is gluten-free, and they can accomodate lactose-free needs (as many with Celiac are lactose intolerant). However, the camp no longer caters to other food allergies (including milk allergies) or sensitivities. It seems that was a bit too overwhelming for them. But if gluten- and lactose-free are your child’s needs, then they can handle it.

Camp Celiac – California

Website: www.celiaccamp.com

Location: Livermore, CA

Description:

Camp Celiac serves up three meals a day of gluten-free food while offering traditional camp activities (ropes course, rock climbing, ziplining, boating, swimming, archery, arts and crafts, skit night, and outdoor sports). As for other dietary needs, “There are dairy-free and nut-free alternatives at every meal and ingredient lists are posted for all menu items; campers sensitive to other foods need to review the lists for their additional dietary restrictions. Nuts and nut flours are used at Camp; we do not operate a nut-free facility.”

GIG Kid’s Camps – East and West

Website: www.campkanata.org (East) and www.campfireseattle.org (West)

Locations: Wake Forest, NC – Vashon Island, WA

Description:

Once a year, the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) descends on Camp Kanata in Wake Forest to professionally support children with gluten intolerance or celiac disease. And Camp Sealth on Vashon Island has two full sessions supported by GIG for gluten intolerant kids. For these camps, GIG dietitians work with volunteers to prepare meals in a separate kitchen to assure kids get nutritious gluten-free meals and snacks. We have been told that the GIG kitchen staff can accommodate most other food sensitivities with the gluten-free diet, and assume that dairy-free would be easily accomodated since so many children require a GF/CF diet.

Children’s Medical Center Food Allergy

Website: www.childrens.com

Location: Gainesville, TX

Description:

At Camp Sweeney by the Children’s Medical Center for Food Allergy, campers, ages 7 to 15, have fun, increase their confidence, affirm their virtues and build lifelong friendships. At this camp, having a food allergy is just another part of life. The registered dietitian from the Children’s Food Allergy Center creates menus individually tailored to each camper’s need. The top eight allergens– milk, egg, wheat, soy, peanut, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish — are avoided completely at camp. Tasty and safe meals are prepared for the kids along with two snacks daily.

AFAA Camp

Website: www.minnesotafoodallergy.org

Location: Mound, MN

Description:

AFAA Camp provides a traditional camp experience, both overnight and day options, for children, who – because of their food allergies – might otherwise be unable to safely participate in a mainstream camp program.

AFAA Camp provides a safe camp experience for children with food allergies; food allergy & anaphylaxis education for children, their siblings and their parents; and leadership training for food allergic teenagers and young adults. The camp is unique in that it promotes improved self-care, self-image and independence for children with food allergies; and normalizes food allergies among a group of peers.

In addition, AFAA Camp reduces anxiety in parents; provides respite from social & medical stressors commonly involved in participating in group functions while managing life-threatening food allergies; and provides an opportunity for parents to network with each other to gain mutual emotional and social support. Campers interact with nature and gain appreciation of the environment in an experience that reduces the worry of food anaphylaxis.

Camp Exploration

Website: www.vegancamp.org

Location: Encino, CA

Description:

Otherwise known as “Vegan Camp,” this experience for kids is 100% dairy-free, egg-free, and “animal cruelty-free.” Non-vegan kids are of course welcome to attend, and the camp draws campers from all over the world. I found the following information on the food, “The meals at Camp Exploration are often planned around a theme: garlic bread and spaghetti on Italian night, tacos piled high with vegan cheese and guacamole at the taco buffet, and even a roll-your-own-sushi dinner. Kids also enjoy campfire classics as well, including vegan franks and beans, chili, and s’mores made with amaranth crackers, organic chocolate, and vegan marshmallows.” Camp Exploration offers several day and overnight camps.

YEA Camp

Website: www.yeacamp.org

Locations: Molalla, OR – Ben Lomand, CA – High Falls, NY

Description:

Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp is for kids and teens ages 12-17. From their website, “YEA Camp focuses on helping campers develop the knowledge, skills, and confidence required to take inspired action on the issues that matter most to them. Our program inspires and develops youth leadership. In addition to the educational and cultural enrichment this process provides, campers will work with a supportive community of their peers, and will be mentored by nurturing and experienced counselors, with whom long-term friendships can be developed.”

YEA camp has an all-vegan food policy (even though  most of the attendees are not vegan), so dairy-free and egg-free campers can fully enjoy the cuisine. Sample food includes French toast, pancakes, and vegan sausage for breakfast, and veggie-loaded stir fries and pizza parties for dinners.

Camp Common Ground

Website: www.cgcvt.org

Location: Starksboro, VT

Description:

This unique camp is for kids of ALL ages! Yes, it is a family camp that welcomes wee little ones, teens, and adults. Expect a plethora of camp-style events in addition to some unique and relaxing activities, and of course, good food. The camp food focuses on local and organic, and the menus are all vegetarian. They have an abundance of vegan offerings (dairy-free, egg-free, etc.), and also have a special gluten-free camp.

Camp Woodbrooke

Website: www.campwoodbrooke.org

Location: Richland Center, WI

Description:

This is a Quaker-based camp for youth of all ages that includes an emphasis on community service, cooperative decisions, and fun. This family run camp is vegetarian with several vegan / dairy-free / egg-free foods (meat options are by request). Many of the meals use produce from the camp garden and are made from scratch. They also reportedly cater to special diet requests, including food allergies.

Picking Other Celiac or Food Allergy Camps Near You

If the locations above aren’t accessible to your family this year, consider your options locally. Many summer camps, whether day or overnight, can accomodate food allergies, intolerances, and special diets. For helpful tips on how to safeguard your child while allowing them to enjoy the interactions of summer camp see the following articles: Preparing to Send Your Allergic Child to Camp and The Allergy-Friendly Camp Packing List.

Big List of Gluten-Free, Vegan and Food Allergy Camps for Kids

Have another allergy-friendly camp to share? Leave a Comment!

About Author

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Senior Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

25 Comments

  1. My kids have been to Camp Blue Spruce and they loved it! First time my youngest ever got to eat from the cafeteria, just like everyone else. And they’re great with allergens outside the top 9. Btw, the age range for campers is 9-17 and the teens get to do more adventurous stuff like white water rafting and ropes courses.

  2. Gate Hill Day Camp in Stony Point, NY accommodates diverse food sensibilities as well. My son is vegan & we’ve been going there for 6 years.

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  5. Camp Cultivate at UT Gardens on the University of Tennessee ‘ s Knoxville campus has food allergy friendly day camp sessions for children. This is a great summer program sponsored by local allergy practices and the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee (FACET).

  6. Camp Wingate-Kirkland does an unbelievable job with special diets and food allergies. They managed my son’s multiple FA with ease and care. The Rubenstein’s really put their heart and soul into making camp home to every camper

  7. My son has attended the Children’s Medical Center Food Allergy Camp in Gainesville, TX twice. He had such a great experience! Dr. Bird and staff really take their time and bond with the kids in addition to taking great care of them!

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  10. Love this! I went to YEA camp two years ago and it was so incredible! Im glad to see so many summer camps are beginning to help make sure everyone is included 🙂

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