After days of preparation for my daughter to eat gluten-free on a weekend church retreat, the verdict is in.  As many of you may have read in an earlier post, my 11-year-old went on a church retreat last weekend for catechism.  They drove 4 hours away to the Ingham-Okoboji Camping Ministry in Iowa.  I was very concerned about her diet as this is the first time it has been managed for days without me, a grandparent or celiac camp to watch over her.

Letter from the Camp's Top Chef!

Letter from the Camp's Top Chef!

The verdict is in.  The food went very well.  Chef Kevin, from the camp, and I agreed to modifications (and in some cases specific cooking or food prep instructions) for Emma for each meal, I provided some and he purchased some.  I thought that was a very fair deal.  She definitely did not starve. On Saturday, Emma had gluten-free french toast and eggs for breakfast, noodles and toasted gluten-free bread for lunch and a chicken breast, potato chips and carrots for dinner. By Sunday she had gluten-free pancakes and eggs for breakfast and gluten-free pizza then ice cream.

I did get a call with a last-minute question from Chef Kevin, which we resolved quickly.  But during that conversation he asked if Emma might be homesick.  He said she was very quiet and didn’t laugh at any of his jokes!  I explained that since this whole retreat is a new experience she’s a little quieter than normal, then to throw on the uncertainty of each meal (even though she knows I arranged everything for her), she’s particularly nervous during meals.  He did send home a nice little note with her gluten-free leftovers.

As for Emma gaining some gluten-free maturity, I still don’t think it’s happened on this trip.  Yes, she is mature enough to say no to something she’s unsure she can eat, but she doesn’t yet feel empowered to take control.  It is possible that if she had been working with Kevin on her dining menu that she would have felt much more comfortable during mealtimes.  But she’s still 11 and that’s a lot to ask I think at this age.  For now we’ll just have to keep working at it!

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4 Responses to “The Return from the Church Retreat; Was it Gluten-Free Friendly?”

  1. My daughter is 13 and is just starting to take control of her food experiences. It is definitely a challenging situation to not want to be a bother but also to not want to get sick or to not know what to do in a situation if someone doesn’t “get it.” When you tie trust with food so closely together, it can be very scary, especially when they know mom will always make sure nothing bad happens.

  2. Amy, I’m so glad it went well for Emma’s sake and yours. It sounds like the chef was a great guy to work with.

  3. I loved your story. My son with CD is 8 years old. It is so hard to NOT be there micro-managing every detail. It’s a journey we are on together. We’ll win some and we’ll lose some, but we’ll learn together along the way. I think Emma’s camp was one of those victories!

  4. Kelly I completely agree with your thoughts— dealing with celiac ebbs and flows for all of us. And we need to celebrate those victories!

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