Going to camp can be one of the most memorable experiences a child can have. For a child with T1D, you can choose a diabetes camp or a traditional camp. While both can be great experiences, we’ll focus here on the benefits of diabetes camp.
Benefits of a Diabetes Camp
Diabetes camp gives children with T1D a chance to experience traditional camp activities while connecting to other children with T1D. A team of health care professionals manage their care while at camp while also teaching them how to make good diabetes management decisions. According to a recent study by the American Diabetes Association, children who attended diabetes camp showed “improvements in self-confidence, diabetes-related stress, knowledge of diabetes management, and overall diabetes management.”
Finding a Camp
When considering a diabetes camp, you have many options:
- The Florida Diabetes Camp – offers summer camps, weekend camps, sports camps and a teen weekend
- American Diabetes Association Camp – offers summer camps nationwide
- Children with Diabetes website has a list of diabetes camp nationwide
Many diabetes camps offer financial assistance such as full or partial scholarships. Check their individual websites for details.
After a child is diagnosed with T1D, parents may wonder if going to a traditional camp is possible. Traditional camps can be great option, but there are some necessary steps you will need to take to make sure it’s a safe and positive experience for you, your child and the camp.
- Research – contact the camp to see if they have ever had a camper with T1D. If not, speak with the camp’s staff to determine their capabilities to take care of your child. Some camps do not have full-time medical staff and they may or may not have experience with T1D.
- Educate and Train – If the camp has not had experience with a child with T1D, you will need to work with the camp to decide who will be in charge of their care and train them (and other staff coming in contact with your child) prior to the start of camp. You can refer to the ADA’s position paper on the management of diabetes at camps.
- Communicate– Plan to communicate often with the camp about your child’s diabetes care. Often, a child’s activity level at camp is increased so insulin levels may need to be decreased during the week and blood glucose checks may need to occur more often.
- Plan for Special Accommodations – Discuss with the camp any special accommodations that may need to be made such as having snacks/juice in the cabins at night.
- Pack – Double up on supplies and decide where the supplies, such as insulin, will be kept.
With good planning and preparation, you can ensure that you child stays safe at camp. You’ll be setting them up to create lifelong memories and you may even be able to relax and enjoy some freedom while they away.