Camp Emerson – An Extraordinary “Allergy Aware” Summer Camp

 

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I had a great childhood. I played baseball, rode bikes with friends, played hockey on the pond and played maybe one too many video games! However, there was one common connection to everything I did – I was close to home.

With all of my food allergies, summer camp was only something I heard about through movies. Although my summers were great, they were generally confined to an area that circled around a particular epicenter – my kitchen.

This is why I am THRILLED to hear of places like Camp Emerson in Massachusetts.  As a proclaimed “Food Allergy Specialist”, they pride themselves in providing a worry-free experience for campers and parents alike.

What’s really impressive is that they “walk the walk” too…and then some with incredible attention to details. Here are some of the things that impressed me most about Camp Emerson that could give peace of mind to prospective parents:

The Food Situation

  • They are peanut, tree nut, shellfish and sesame free.
  • They have successfully supported children with up to 9 anaphylactic allergies.

The Kitchen Situation

  • A team of Registered Dietitians prepare the menu with you prior to camp.
  • Parents are able to review the menu in advance and read all labels.
  • They have dedicated equipment and kitchen area to avoid cross-contamination.

 The Staff Situation

  • All staff are trained on anaphylaxis emergency procedures (including EpiPen training)
  • There is on-site medical staff (pediatrician, nurses) trained in allergies.
  • The directors have food allergies and truly “get it”.

I can go on, but I recommend you take a look at their brochure all about campers with allergies: http://www.campemerson.com/future_families/food_allergy_specialist.

It wasn’t until college that I entered the summer camp world as a staff member at a camp in Ontario. It was an incredible experience that kept me coming back – 5 summers in total! It opened my eyes to the value of camp and the countless benefits it provides children. Camp Emerson has generously supported my tour and DVD as a sponsor, and I am thrilled to endorse them, as I believe they are trailblazers setting gold standards for how camps can accommodate allergic campers. They share my belief that food allergies shouldn’t be a barrier for summer camp.

I know their spaces are filling up fast, but here are more details for this summer:

Camp Sessions:

  • 6 weeks – Sunday, June 28 – Saturday, August 8, 2015
  • 4 weeks – Sunday, June 28 – Saturday, July 25, 2015
  • 2 weeks – Sunday, July 26 – Saturday, August 8, 2015

For more information, visit http://www.campemerson.com, or pick up the phone can call:

Sue Lein, Owner & Camp Director (she’s so friendly and fantastic!)

directors@campemerson.com
800-782-3395
203-894-9663

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Allergy Awareness Poster – Featuring YOUR CHILD!

There was ONE really cool reward that was added so late in my Kickstarter campaign, it practically went unnoticed….

A food allergy awareness poster featuring your child’s photo!

Talk about a unique gift! 20 SPOTS LEFT, $25 to reserve yours + receive two 11×17″ copies. All $ directly supports DVD project.

Grab yours at http://www.foodallergyvideo.com/poster-reward.html

Awareness-Poster

Image is a mock-up. This will be created by a professional graphic designer.

 

 

 

Red Plate Foods = Delicious

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I first met Becca from Red Plate Foods at the Portland FARE walk in August. I remember it like it was yesterday, as that was the day I ate the BEST cupcake of my life! (With an nut + egg allergy, this is a big deal!) Becca offered my wife (gluten-free) and I both a sample cupcake as we left the event. We ate them while driving away, and after only a few bites, started giving each other those wide-eyed “this is incredible” looks, and the “Mmmmm’ing” out loud sounds! We realized we hit baked allergy-friendly gold!

Fast-forward to October when I was back in Portland to perform at local schools. Sure enough, I ran into Becca again! This time, more samples….cookies, cupcakes and muffins. ALL were simply amazing. I offered a few cookies to a family I was staying with, and they looked at me like I was handing over the keys to a Porche! They TOO knew of Red Plate Foods and were giddy about receiving the samples!

Becca’s company might just be the best kept secret out there. She just expanded to offer shipping of her baked goods. With the holidays coming, grab some of these treats and be the hit of your allergy-friendly holiday party! PS – please invite me and save a cupcake! :)

www.redplatefoods.com

New Holiday Song – “Nut Free Christmas”

It’s been two years since I’ve done a Christmas video. I figured it was time to do another since it really is my favourite time of the year, and have had the urge to do a song with my puppets ever since reading the Jim Henson biography (what an inspiring guy!).

He's no Bing Crosby, but it was a pleasure duetting with EpiMan!

He’s no Bing Crosby, but it was a pleasure duetting with EpiMan!

There is truly one musician who can get me into the Christmas spirit like no other year after year. Elvis. If you don’t have his Christmas CD, get it. It might be the best Christmas mix I’ve ever heard on one CD. There are songs like “Santa Claus is Back in Town” that can get your Xmas party rocking, “Here Comes Santa Claus” that is the grooviest dinner music, and “Silent Night” that can give you chills.

My personal favourite, “Blue Christmas” is pure Elvis at his best in my opinion. I really don’t think any cover version of this song will ever come close to being as good.

So what did I go out and do? Cover “Blue Christmas”! However, I gave it a twist. I did use the original music to sing over, but made a parody that the allergy community would appreciate titled “Nut Free Christmas” with my pal EpiMan.

I wanted to create a fun little reminder for family members to be mindful of allergies during the holiday season. I hope you share it with your family and friends and have an overall “allergy free” Christmas this year.

Lyrics

Nut-Free Christmas

I won’t have a blue Christmas without you
It’ll be so cool, eating without you
Every Christmas you appear, but that’s gonna change this year
Let’s start a new tradition Where you’re not here with me

And when the party guests start knockin’
They’ll find some new treats in their stockin’
You’ll be doin’ alright, you won’t miss them for one night
Cuz I want, a nut and peanut free Christmas

[EpiMan Talking Bit] Family, friends, this year, I have one Christmas wish…on top of world peace, and a meet and greet with Batman…I’m asking you to be mindful of others allergies. You know what allergic reindeer say “If you have nuts to serve, first check with the herd.” Christmas time is about togetherness, where we can laugh, sing and talk, and…feed the nutcracker a sock…haha

You’ll be doin’ alright, you won’t miss them for one night
Cuz I want a nut, and peanut free Christmas
Cuz I want a nut…a nut free Christmas

[Banter at the end] Who roasts nuts on an open fire anyways? Isn’t that a safety concern?

 

Educational Video about Food Allergies AND Celiac Disease

Celiac Disease Allergy DVD Video
I’m mostly known for my songs about food allergies, but am also passionate about educating people about celiac disease and intolerances. Have you heard my song “Gluten-Free Blues“? I think there is a lot of confusion out there about the differences, but I also think it’s important to highlight the similarities.

For children, knowing the exact difference between food allergies and intolerances is not essential. Is it fair to expect that a 4-year old knows that anaphylaxis initiates in the immune system, and celiac disease occurs in the digestive system? Of course not. Keeping things simple for kids is the key when educating about such complicated things.

This is why I focus on four key messages that are universal to both conditions when teaching about them to children:

1. No sharing Food

2. Wash your hands before and after you eat

3. Respect for each others differences

4. Speak up and tell an adult if you see someone feeling ill

This type of messaging does not scare kids, yet empowers them to help people with allergies or intolerances.

This is the approach I am taking in my upcoming video “Kyle Dine & Friends” which will help educate children about food allergies, celiac disease, and intolerances.

The Kickstarter campaign to fund it ends on Dec. 21st. Pledge and get a limited edition reward today!

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