What We Discovered in 24 Hours of Diabetes Camp

Things To Know About Type 1 diabetes and camp                                                                Photo courtesy of Harold Hamm Diabetes Center

The DDG set out for their very FIRST diabetes camp adventure (despite only being 24 hours in duration, it still felt like an adventure). Really, with over 50 years of diabetes experience under their belts, what more was left to learn at camp? As Advisory Board Members for Camp Blue Hawk in Oklahoma City, Amber and Ryan went to school… well, summer school for a few more diabetes enlightenments.

Q: What’s your big takeaway?

  • AC: Camp Blue Hawk fostered lifelong friendships. The T1D campers were surrounded by folks who “get” what it’s like to live a day in their shoes. I believe there is comfort in realizing they’re not alone. There should have been a juice box cheers at some point… maybe next year.
  • RF: Given the space and independence, kids will straight take over the diabetes management process. Putting in sites, testing sugars, monitoring CGMs, and finding snacks were all tasks I saw done seamlessly by 11 year olds when given the chance. That’s the power of camp!

Q: If the camp doctors weren’t around, what kind of advice would you give to these kids?

  • AC: People with diabetes are similar, but not the same. It’s okay to question the doctor… ask questions and feel confident in expressing your hesitation/desire to try a new form of treatment.
  • RF: You’re the expert. Trust your body. Trust what works for you. Be flexible, take ownership of your ratios. Learn how to temp basal on your own. Be the disease!

Q: Now having been to diabetes camp for the first time, what would you have gained as a kid?

  • AC: Man, this would have changed my life. Seriously! I never talked about diabetes because no one around me had it or really knew about it. It would have given me the confidence to talk openly with my peers and family about the disease.
  • RF: Knowing that those really tough times weren’t just my own experience. Sharing what it feels like to be in the 500s to your family is one thing, but for the person across from you to have felt it, that would have meant the world. There were many times growing up where I would have liked to give a fellow camper a ring!

Q: Having been behind the scenes, do you have any reassuring words for parent?

  • AC: Your kids are stronger than you could ever imagine. Have faith in their ability to take control of their diabetes management and support them as they deal with the highs and lows.
  • RF: The medical staff at Camp Blue Hawk could not be more qualified. Stacked with endocrinologists, CDEs, dieticians, and medical students, I was overwhelmed by the commitment to safety. Plus, all of those folks weren’t even the most educated on the disease (that would be the fellow campers)! It was wonderful hearing the back and forth exchanges from older to younger kids on literally every aspect of the disease.

Special thanks to Camp Blue Hawk volunteers and staff for letting us emcee/crash camp this year. Team DDG had a wonderful time and are incredibly grateful for this experience.

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