Diabetes camps are in many ways similar to the hundreds of other camps that will be hosting kids of all ages this summer. There are hikes, water activities, campfires, games, and all the other activities that make the camping experience unique. The one noticeable difference: every camper has diabetes. That means diabetes camps typically have a staff of medical professionals on hand who are experienced in diabetes care. Some of the camp counselors may also have diabetes. Together, the staff typically takes extra precautions to ensure that each child is monitoring his or her glucose and insulin so they remain safe while they have a good time. Here are five good reasons to consider a diabetes camp.
1. To help your child develop diabetes management skills
The central goal of most diabetes camps is to help your child improve his or her management of diabetes. They do this by keeping your child on a schedule for testing glucose, teaching appropriate insulin dosing and injection and how to eat healthy meals. Camp personnel understand that for many campers this is their first extended time away from home and are typically very available to help with diabetes care or comforting a homesick camper.
2. To help them gain new confidence
As a result of building these skills, many campers gain a new confidence in their ability to manage their diabetes. They learn that it is not a condition that needs to control their lives but one they need to learn to manage well. Many children leave camp with the understanding that good management decisions lead to good glucose control. This is a lesson that older children and teens are most likely to take away from their camp experience.
3. To help them feel normal
Chances are good that your child only knows a few other children that have diabetes, if any at all. Being at a diabetes camp for an entire week normalizes having diabetes. Everyone is checking their blood, giving themselves insulin injections, talking about low blood sugar and checking up on each other. The result is that children with diabetes don’t feel so different from other kids their age. They learn that their health needs are different from other kids but that they can still do most of what they want in life.
4. To make friends
Having common ground with people creates bonds. Many children develop friendships with other campers that last a lifetime. Some of these friendships may be with children who are local. This means your child is able to have a friend with diabetes close by to continue the process of normalizing what it means to live with diabetes.
5. To have fun
Diabetes camp is also about just having fun. The vast majority of the time is spent in activities that will create a rich and memorable experience for your child.
Diabetes camps are offered in nearly every state, in Canada and in many other countries. The American Diabetes Association offers a directory of camps it sponsors. For a more comprehensive list of diabetes camps you might check out the Diabetes Education and Camping Association that includes a directory of U.S., Canadian and international diabetes camps.