Can Children with Cystic Fibrosis Go to Sleepovers or Sleep-Away Camps?
Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: September 2019 | Last updated: April 2021
Friendships broaden horizons and serve as the bedrock of a happy life whether you’re healthy or dealing with a chronic disease like cystic fibrosis (CF). As your child with CF ventures into the world and begins to make friends, there are some guidelines to help your child experience their friends’ houses safely while still having fun.
Friendship and cystic fibrosis
Whether your child visits for the afternoon or stays overnight at a friend’s house, you’ll need to educate the parents about:
- The basics of CF
- Coughing and that it’s not contagious
- The importance of infection prevention and control through handwashing
- Enzymes and why your child must have them with every snack and meal
- Your child’s treatment regime, if they are staying long enough to need airway clearance
- How adherence to the treatment plan keeps your child healthy
- Why they can’t be around secondhand smoke, people sick with colds or flu, or unvaccinated people
Balancing cystic fibrosis needs with friendships
Young children may not mind if their friends know about their CF, but tweens and teens may want to avoid sharing details in an effort to appear like everyone else. You should always discuss disclosure with your child first.
Missing a single dose of medicine or the occasional breathing treatment while having loads of fun probably won’t hurt your child’s overall health, but many missed doses or treatments may.
The psychological well-being that comes from play and social connections needs to be balanced with their CF needs.
Planning for and attending sleepovers
Staying overnight with friends or going away to camp lets your child have fun while learning independence. It also requires preparation and planning. The same recommendations for how to handle sleep-away camp apply to sleepovers and slumber parties with friends. An overnight stay does not require the same depth of discussion and preparation that a multi-night stay at camp does. However, the other parents should be made aware of the basics of CF, that the coughing is not contagious, why your child can’t be around second-hand smoke, and why they must avoid other children who are sick or are unvaccinated.
Pack with a plan
Your child will need enough enzymes for snacks and meals, their medications, airway clearance supplies, and back-up quantities for the most frequently used supplies. Depending on how long they’ll be away from home, this could require significant time for packing and extra luggage. Your child should help with this process so they can learn how to prepare for outings and trips on their own.
Considerations for attending camps
Children and teens with CF should be encouraged to attend camps related to their special interests. Examples include band, cheerleading, or soccer camp. Parents will need to communicate with the camp organizers about the need for infection prevention and control, their child’s treatment regime and the need to maintain it, and request any necessary accommodations such as longer meal times or extra time waking up.
If more than one child with CF is attending the same camp, these precautions should be taken to prevent cross-infection:
- Children with CF should not sleep in a cabin with another child who has CF.
- If multiple campers have CF, they should be scheduled for activities at different times whenever possible.
- Campers with CF should maintain a distance of 6-feet from one another at all times.
Since CF-specific germs have been passed between those with CF at CF-specific camps, recommendations now discourage CF-specific camps.