Diabetes Camp: From Camper To Camp Counselor
As a place to learn self-confidence, independence, be with other kids with diabetes, and simply have a wonderful time, diabetes camp can be one of the best experiences a child with diabetes can have. Exactly one month before her 13th birthday, MiniMed Ambassador, Tey, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and two months later, attended diabetes camp for the first time. After being a camper for three years, she became a counselor in training, helping younger kids and continuing to participate in the diabetes camp fun.
Q. What made you decide to first go to diabetes camp?
A. My endocrinologist told me about diabetes camp during my first visit with him. I was scared to go, but not enough to not want to attend. My mother had a really hard time letting me go my first year. I mean I had only been diagnosed for about two months when camp started, so I can understand her hesitancy towards the situation. The first day at camp is hardest for campers who get home sick. My counselors never let us get bored, so I never got home sick, but I’m not usually one to get home sick either. Going to camp and creating bonds with people who know what I’m going through and understand how annoying it can be to treat a midnight low is priceless.
Q. How do you prepare for camp?
A. Pack, pack, pack. It’s almost like a puzzle getting your bag packed for a week of crazy activities. Most camps send a letter ahead of time, welcoming you to camp and providing a list of clothes to bring. Bring at least two extras of everything. My camp is only one week long so that’s two or three site changes, so I bring five or six infusion sets and reservoirs, two bottles of insulin (in case one of the bottles goes bad). Make sure you bring books and stationary, or a note book, to write everything down!
Q. Tell us your favorite thing(s) about diabetes camp.
A. This year, one of my campers, who had been diagnosed two weeks before camp, said, “I love camp because I get to see people like me, and I know I will be great!” Things like this are the reason why I love camp and being a counselor. I love showing people just because you have this disease, it doesn’t mean you can’t be happy and healthy. We have a slight barrier, one we can climb over each day with a smile, if we try.
Q. What have you learned from attending camp each year?
A. The people at camp are just as much my family as the ones waiting for me at home. I know, no matter what time of year it is, they have my back and I have theirs. As a teen with type 1 diabetes, it’s amazing knowing I have a solid base of understanding friends to fall back as I get older.
Q. Tell us the most memorable experience you’ve had at camp.
A. This is the hardest question to answer. As a camper, I’ve had a lot of memorable experiences, and as a camp counselor, I have even more. With that said, my most memorable moments as a camp counselor, along with the one I mentioned above, is when I let one of my campers do my pump site in my arm, and she was dead set on me doing hers in her arm. I see the impact camp has on these kids, and it’s AMAZING. That’s the best part by far!
I’ve been a type 2 diabetic since 1996.
I’m on a minimed pump.
I still don’t understand why I can’t get my bg to a stable consistent reading. Are there any camps for adults in the hendersonville, tn. Area? It seams the doctor’s around here don’t understand about diabetes or can’t really relate. I get conflicting advice.
Can someone help?