Research has now confirmed what anyone with a gluten-free child probably already knew: being around other kids with the same dietary restrictions helps GF kids feel normal. Kids who attend dedicated a gluten free summer camp are buoyed even further. They leave the experience with a more positive outlook and self-perception, as well as an improved sense of well-being and emotional outlook.
“All seemed to benefit from camp, no longer feeling different from other kids or feeling frustrated with a restricted diet,” reported researchers in the journal Pediatrics. While all of the children enjoyed the camp experience, those who had been on a gluten-free diet for less than four years benefited the most. These children left camp no longer feeling embarrassed or isolated from other kids because of their restricted diet. Campers also learned new coping mechanisms from others in camp who had been living gluten free for a longer time.
All this is to say that gluten-free camp is a worthwhile endeavor; luckily many camps around the country are answering the call! There are even “camperships” available to help those who could not otherwise afford to attend.
♦Tune into my Gluten-Free Voice radio interview with Celiac Disease Foundation Director Marilyn Geller to learn more about how some of these programs work.