My daughter Kait is now a Girl Scout (Daisies)! I remember the days of being a Girl Scout. It was so much fun doing crafts and, of course, camping!!!!!! Smells of wet glue and campfires…Tastes of Girl Scout Cookies and S’mores. Hit the breaks!!!!! Ok, so how do we proceed with the fun girl scout experience with these gluten barriers?! My girl would love to make S’mores and eat it too!!!! Fortunately, there are so many products (food and non-food) that are gluten free. The role of the parent is ESSENTIAL– educating the girls and the leaders (and service unit director) will be the parent’s job.
I am a co-leader for Kait’s Daisies Troop. I volunteered to do so, not because of KAit’s gluten-free lifestyle, but because the troop needed a co-leader. It wasn’t until I started going through my leader training and holding troop meetings (I’m also a co-leader for my older daughter’s Brownies Troop), that maintaining a gluten-free lifetsyle is challenging. Now, I’m not suggesting that parents become leaders for the sake of their daughter’s protection. Afterall, the point of girl scouts is to empower young girls.
I say lifestlye because having Celiac Disease involves more than just keeping to a strict gluten free diet (see earlier posts re gluten in non-food items). Children, especially, have to be careful of gluten exposure in what they handle (i.e. crafts). So, here is my advice:
If you’re the parent:
- Inform and educate the troop leaders ASAP
- Offer to substitute crafts with gluten ingredients, with gluten free ingredients– this is an issue when workin with paper mache and Play-doh
- Be familiar with the snack schedule (provide gluten free substitutes as needed) or inform the other parents of the dietary restrictions and provide examples of great gluten free snacks without trouble (cheese sticks, fruits and veggies)
- Work with your daughter in speaking up with potential gluten exposures (your child will need to learn to be her own advocate)
- Provide a plan to the troop leaders of what to expect when there’s a accidental gluten ingestion (especially important for campouts)
- In campouts, ask the troop leader about setting aside gluten free substitute meals/snacks (there are gluten-free marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate for S’mores!!!!!)
- Suggest plans to prevent cross-contamination
If you’re the Troop Leader:
- Maintain communications with the parent- inform the parent about crafts and snacks
- Plan, plan, and plan ahead for troop meetings. It is easier to inform the parent with advance notice so the parent can supplement or substitute if necessary (again, this goes for crafts and food)
- Work with the Girl Scout to educate her peers in the troop. Girls in a troop are more likely to be her advocate when they are on troop outings and campouts.
- Educate yourself- there are so many sites about Celiac Disease and a gluten-free diet
Unfortunately, Girl Scout Cookies are not available gluten free. So, while my Kait can’t enjoy the Girl Scout cookies, she can still enjoy the girl scout experience. I’ll just have to make gluten free Girl Scout Cookies!!!