Gathering Round the Diabetes Campfire

For children and parents with diabetes, diabetes camp is a saving grace. When everyday life can leave you feeling isolated, diabetes camp provides a comradery and a normalcy to life with diabetes, along with your normal camp experience including arts and crafts, bonfires, late night bunk gossip, and a lot of singing!

We bring this up now because it’s the time of year again when parents will need to start considering signing children up for all types of summer camps.

I am a veteran diabetes and I strongly believe that moving there during my first and second year of diabetes was probably the best thing that I could do.

When I was diagnosed at age 8, it didn’t take long before my diabetes practice brought us to the neighborhood diabetes camp, Gales Creek Camp. There was enough time to get me signed up for a session since I was diagnosed in January! This was especially wonderful in my “early phases,” because testing blood glucose and carrying insulin became a lot more regular than it was when I was at home with my worried parents. Considering that the team were trained nurses and doctors, neither my parents nor I had to perform any of their believing. Talk about a vacation!

All diabetes camps are somewhat different, but the principles of an enjoyable camp environment blended with employees makes for an ideal getaway for both children and parents. I managed to experience camp, spend a week away from my parents, and have fun swimming, hiking, and hanging out with new friends and “cool grown-ups,” all while having my diabetes professionally managed. I’d wager my diabetes control was actually better at diabetes camp because of the constant attention and alterations from physicians and CDEs who had been on-site 24/7.

The support aspect is also crucial. In my experience, a few of the kids became very good friends I spent some time with outside of camp. Now with Facebook, it’s even easier to keep in touch with camp friends and find the same “real life” assistance online, too. For children, this is their one and only chance to spend much time with other children with diabetes. We know that diabetes can be an experience, and it can be transformative to be among others who are currently going through precisely the same thing. Diabetes camp was a great learning experience. For instance, during my first summer at diabetes camp, a fellow camper who had diabetes more than me, encouraged me to inject insulin into my belly (I was sticking to legs only until afterward). I was scared of injecting in my stomach because I believed it would sew! I didn’t realize at age you can not tickle yourself, and injections do not actually “tickle” anyway. But I didn’t understand that… I saw that this woman inject within her stomach, then bravely did it myself. It didn’t sew. And it didn’t hurt! I’ve been hooked on belly spots.

Does diabetes camp sound good? In December, we introduced one to Lorne Abramson, President of the Diabetes Education and Camping Association. DECA is a great resource for finding a diabetes camp locally — and they are all over the nation! Additionally, but the majority of them are reasonably priced, or they supply scholarships for people in need, so there is no reason. So it’s important to investigate and apply for camp asap however, wind camps up early. You do not need to wait too long for camps or camps with spots.

Is your child shy? Unsure about sending your kid away for such a long time? Some camps have “household weekends” or “day camps” where your kid is exposed to camp life in tiny pops or with you alongside. It’s a great way for both camper and parent .

For those who have hit at school age and are being spat out of diabetes DECA has launched , a series of weekend retreats for young adults with diabetes. They are hosting three D-Treats. Info is still TBD, which means you’ll want to “like” their own FB webpage to maintain the loop.

America and Canada aren’t the only countries with diabetes camp, Even Though the concept may seem different depending on what state you are in:

1 camp in Mexico is named Diabetes Safari, and it invites children ages 7 to 18 to return to Oaxtepec for four days. It’s a co-ed camp at Spanish and English. The founder of the camp, Dr. Stan p Loach, is a bicultural and trilingual diabetes teacher and was one of the earliest diabetes educators ever certified in Mexico, in addition to a clinical psychologist.

Over in Europe, Diabetes UK hosts several “vacations” throughout the year for children with diabetes, which are much like US-based diabetes camps. Meals are planned and nurses and doctors are supply oversight. Camps are based all over the United Kingdom, and include activities like canoeing, kayaking and archery — sounds like fun!

In Germany, there is a camp for teens with diabetes, and one for youth and young adults sponsored by Bayer and Novo Nordisk. I’d imagine most countries have something moving in this area. Should they have any recommendations, if you’re looking in or near it would be worthwhile to start Googling, and/or ask your diabetes organization.

Diabetes camp was for me growing up, an experience, and I am wondering: Who has gone to diabetes camp? Or do any of you have concerns about it? Please talk to us.

Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For additional information click here.

Disclaimer

This content is made for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content isn’t medically reviewed and does not stick to Healthline’s editorial instructions. To learn more regarding Healthline’s venture with Diabetes Mine, please click here.

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