Until recently I did not even know Type 1 Diabetes Summer Camp existed. I am so excited that my grandson may be able to experience similar fun adventures as I had when I was a kid.
I remember as a kid, a big part of our summer was heading off to summer camp. Sometimes it was a day camp or a weekend and once it was a whole week. Whichever camp we attended it was great to have that time away from our parents, developing new friendships and learning new skills. It was almost like a right of passage telling scary stories by the campfire and it was something we really looked forward to every summer.
I was ecstatic when I discovered there are actually summer camps designed with the challenges of Type 1 Diabetes in mind.
I knew immediately I needed to learn more about these specialized camps and send my grandson.
Let’s just dive in and see why I am so excited about the possibility of sending my grandson to a Type 1 Diabetes Summer Camp.
What Exactly Is a “Type 1 Diabetes Summer Camp”?
A “Type 1 Diabetes Summer Camp” is a summer camp for kids designed to work around the demands of Diabetes Management. All of their activities are scheduled for diabetes care. Many of the Camp Councillors are Diabetic themselves so they are completely comfortable with everything Diabetes related.
In Canada there are four main types of programs:
- summer camps
- family camps
- leadership camps
- day camps
These various types of camps are available at various locations across Canada and each runs a unique program ideal for various ages.
What Do They Do?
At Diabetes Summer Camp the kids will participate in many of the same events other kids experience at any camp.
There will be events such as:
- fun campfires
- sharing stories and developing friendships.
All these events will of course revolve around proper diabetes management. The kids will be encouraged and taught how to manage their own Diabetes and will be supervised as they learn new skills and accomplish many “firsts” which will be celebrated by all.
Can They Handle Diabetes-Related Emergencies?
Regardless of the type of camp, you choose you can rest assured they are well prepared to handle emergencies.
The camp staff is made up of Diabetes educators, nurses, physicians, registered dietitians, and medical students.
In fact, many of the staff are Diabetic themselves so they are quite familiar with the demands of Diabetes management.
What Are The Benefits?
We know that Diabetes is something that is always there, day and night, it never goes away. For children with Type 1 Diabetes life is a constant battle of trying to keep Blood Glucose and A1C levels within or at least close to range. The benefits of attending Summer Camp can be huge.
They will be surrounded by other kids who are also Type 1.
They can speak the same language and share stories, calm each other’s fears.
Just realizing they are NOT ALONE can make a huge difference.
At camp, the kids are encouraged to manage their own Diabetes with the supervision and direction of the knowledgeable camp staff. Often many “firsts” are celebrated. Maybe the first time injecting insulin by themselves or changing a pump site for the first time. These firsts won’t go unnoticed and will be celebrated by staff and fellow campers alike.
The growth and sense of acceptance the kids develop at camp can’t be replaced by any other experience. To make friendships with others who share the same daily struggles and understand exactly what you mean when you say you feel “LOW” is something I believe every Type 1 kid should experience.
Where Can I Find A Type 1 Diabetes Summer Camp?
There are summer camps located in several provinces across Canada. Check with each one on the required age for participation and the type of program they offer. You can find the contact information for each camp on the Diabetes Canada website.
If you are an American there are also Diabetes Camps throughout many states in the US. Check with the American Diabetes Association for the location of the camps there.
Here is a list of the Canadian Diabetes Camps:
- Camp Briardale – Manitoba
- Camp Jean Nelson – Alberta
- Camp Kakhamela – British Columbia
- Camp Kornder – Saskatchewan
- Camp Lion Maxwell – Nova Scotia
- Camp Discovery – Ontario
- Camp Hondura – Ontario
- Camp Douwanna – Newfoundland and Labrador
- Camp Morton – Nova Scotia
In my opinion, it is well worth it to send our grandson to a summer camp when he is old enough. He will have fun while simultaneously learning to manage his own Diabetes is something we can’t give him any other way.
Another bonus is that the parents can get a much-needed break to reconnect with each other and with friends Knowing their Type 1 Diabetic child is being cared for by a competent team dedicated to ensuring their well-being.
I still cherish the memories I made at Summer Camp as a child and feel strongly that Diabetes should not prevent a child from experiencing all that Summer Camp has to offer. I believe it is even more important for a Type 1 child to have the opportunity to meet and develop friendships with other kids who are experiencing the same type of daily struggles.
I sincerely hope this helps you learn that there are camps specifically designed for a type 1 Diabetic child to have a safe and rewarding experience. Check out the camps in your area and decide for yourself.
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