School trip or summer camp: a helpful flow chart when your child is recovering from an eating disorder

How to give your child a safety net for a school trip or summer camp

In recovery?

When your child is in recovery from an eating disorder, you may decide he or she is safe enough to go on a school trip or summer camp. If this is your situation, read on. If you're confused and find it hard to work out the risks, check out Chapter 10 of my book.

The warning signs and the next steps

Even when your child seems to be mostly free of the eating disorder, there's an element of risk. Especially if this is his or her first spell away from home. What if 10 days away from your supervision is just too much? What if he or she eats without anxiety but not enough to compensate for all the physical activity on the trip?

When my daughter was in this situation, I prepared a flow chart to help me discuss measures with the teacher in charge of the trip. Your situation will be different, but I offer you my own notes here to help you get started.

My daughter was 13 at the time. She was very well, ate freely at school and in cafes with friends. So why worry at all? Well, at that time we were still giving her a measure of stability and security. For all her meals at home, she ate what we gave her.

So this flowchart is for a low risk situation. Two years earlier my daughter had been on a shorter school trip, at a time when anorexia dominated her brain, and we had many more precautions and did lots of planning with teachers and the holiday centre's cook.

School trip eating disorder anorexia flow chart
Feel free to copy this and send to others. If you modify it, please change the "Source" bit.

Back to this particular trip: the teacher was happy with our conversation, didn't show any signs of panic, and she took the flowchart with her. I guess that for the school it was a form of risk assessment.

Was the trip a success? A big resounding 'Yes!' Were any of the measures below required? I'm glad to say 'No'. Sometimes I am delighted when my hard work turns out to be a huge waste of time.

More help

I've written more on schools and school trips: follow these links:

* School trips: guidance for schools *

* School support: a checklist for parents * 

* Schools portal: lots of guidance for schools *

* More on school and getting back into normal life: Chapter 10 – The road to full recovery *

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