It’s that time of year again here in the United States for diabetes camps. Sara goes again in 2 weeks and is SO excited! She looks forward to camp every year. She says it the highlight of her year, better than anything else, even Christmas and vacations! She’s even recruited a new girl to go with her this year from our new town we’ve moved to.
Why does she like camp so much?
She has developed lifelong friends from camp. These are kids with diabetes who know what it’s like to live with diabetes every day of your life. These are friends who know what a low or high blood sugar feels like, know what putting infusion sets in and giving shots is like, know what checking your blood sugar all the time is like, and they know this is what they have to do to stay alive.
Having diabetes is a huge responsibility, one that all of us parents wish we could take away from our children. They or we never asked for it. Frequently kids with diabetes feel like they are the only ones who have it and who have to do all that comes along with it. They sometimes get singled out and bullied at school, or at least asked multiple questions about it and feel different. Camp is where they are not alone.
The camp where Sara goes is not an educational camp per say for diabetes. It is a church camp and one week out of the summer they hold a diabetes camp. It has been around since the 70’s. I work with the pediatric endocrinologist who founded it way back then and he has a huge heart for these kids. All these years he has stayed the whole week at camp to oversee these kids and adjust insulin doses or whatever they need the doc to do.
They also have counselors in each cabin who live with diabetes and can really relate to the kids. These counselors carry a backpack everywhere they go with meters, low blood sugar foods, glucagon, and other things for all the kids in their cabin. They have volunteer nurses who are there all the time checking their blood sugars, even once or twice every night. These kids are sometimes better taken care of at camp than at home. They come home doing things like giving injections or inserting pump sets themselves, trying new spots for pump sets, and so much more that they learn from others. They come home feeling like someone understands them.
Educational or Just Fun?
There’s not educational sessions they attend, but rather as they go through their day, they are educated as they do things. When they eat, they all sit around the table and count carbs and determine their insulin doses. When they check their blood sugars, there’s a nurse to show them how to properly do it and talk about the targets and what to do if it’s high or low. When one of them has a low, they stop and let them eat or drink, and the counselor talks about what to do for highs. They check ketones each morning and talk about why and what to do for ketones. They are in the midst of just having fun and getting and getting education without really knowing they are being taught.
What about the parents?
Parents can sometimes feel lost at home and worry about how they child is doing. Don’t do it! We parents have so much extra responsibility with our kids, especially the younger ones. Take time to enjoy your freedom and do something special for yourself! Enjoy your week of not having to take care of your child! Remember that to take the best care of your child, you need to take care of yourself. Know that your child is in great hands and you can take a week off.
So from my experience with my children plus others that I have worked with, diabetes camp is a great experience. Look up diabetes camps for your area and check them out! Comment below on your experiences or hesitations about camp! We all learn from each other!
Here’s another post written in 2011 about Sara’s camp experience. Read about here!