Camp Celiac Vendor Day: A Gluten-Free Feeding Frenzy!
Have you ever been at the center of a feeding frenzy of hungry Celiac kids? Kids at a week-long Summer camp designed especially for their unique nutritional needs? In other words, kids – normally restricted by the stringent dietary requirements of Celiac disease – firmly empowered by the knowledge that they were in a place where they could eat whatever they liked? If you are the parent of a Gluten-Free kid, you probably know what I mean.
Celiac disease is an auto-immune disorder caused by the body’s inability to process Gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. For those with the disease, Gluten accumulates on the villi in the small intestine, preventing the body from absorbing nutrients, and triggering auto-immune reactions that can run the gamut, ranging from diarrhea to acid reflux to skin problems such as dermatitis herpetiformis and even psoriasis! Current medical estimates are that approximately one in 100 people have Celiac disease, and it remains one of the most under-diagnosed illnesses in the world.
So you can see why Celiac kids feel different – and if you remember being a kid, you know that feeling different is the last thing they want. Imagine being a kid – going to your best friend’s birthday party and not being able to have a piece of cake! That’s just one of the myriad challenges facing children with this potentially life-threatening disease. That’s why Camp Celiac and other camps like it are so important – not only for Celiac kids but for their parents and families as well. In fact, a study at the University of California, San Francisco showed that Celiac kids reap many measurable benefits from just such an experience! The Taylor Family Foundation in Livermore, CA organizes camps for kids with all kinds of life-threatening illnesses, and after the founders’ diagnosis with Celiac, started camps for kids affected by this disease as well. Apart from providing camaraderie and fun in a totally Gluten-Free environment, Camp Celiac teaches kids the life skills they need to navigate in a world which does not cater to, and often doesn’t even understand, their Gluten-Free dietary needs.
Being at this camp was inspirational. If you are a Celiac adult reading this blog, you were probably diagnosed later in life – after the joy and wonder of childhood were behind you. You and all of us like you know how difficult it was to accept the diagnosis and dietary change at first. Put yourself in the shoes of a child, and then think about it again. These kids are faced with being different and not being able to eat what everybody else eats from childhood! Make no mistake – they are lucky to be diagnosed so early. They may be escaping a lifetime of ill-health, or even potentially life-threatening consequences from the adverse auto-immune reactions of Celiac disease! It is their fortitude and aplomb that makes these kids remarkable. They understand their condition, and they know what they can and cannot eat – and they know why. They go about life armed with the knowledge that they have special needs and knowing the simple choices that will keep them healthy.
With that degree of consciousness about their health, they are at a tremendous advantage over the millions of kids who grow up eating mass-produced processed food without thinking twice about it! And seeing this increase in Celiac awareness – starting in the youngest of generations – provides hope that people with Celiac disease will not feel so much like outsiders in the future. With more and more people being diagnosed from such a young age, the market of Gluten-Free food is sure to continue to expand.
Crave Bakery was proud to be among the vendors to participate in this year’s Camp Celiac. On the final day of camp, as parents arrived to collect their happy campers, Gluten-Free food vendors from all over the country gathered to provide samples and sell product to the campers and their parents. Our table attracted quite a crowd! But then what would you expect … a table filled with brownies, cookies, chocolate cake, and other goodies – all Gluten & Dairy-Free – in a room full of kids? (Hence the feeding frenzy…)
We’d hoped to be able to take photos of the day to share with our readers – but frankly with that many enthusiastic and hungry mouths to feed, we couldn’t cut up the samples fast enough! There were so many curious parents and happy kids to talk to…. So many people saying our Gluten-Free/Dairy-Free Cupcakes were their standby for kids birthdays… So many Moms and Dads eager to hear about our custom wedding, birthday, and party cake program, and so many parents who just wanted to know where they could buy our products… it was a busy day!
We look forward to going back to Camp Celiac next year!