Diabetes camp

My daughter has been a type 1 diabetic for almost 4 years ( she is 10) and i got a pamplet for diabetes camp yesterday. She wants to go but I am very nervous to send her.The camp is 4 hours away. She just had her first sleepover last weekend and did very well but I am not sure about a week away. I guess my question is do they check them during the night and keep the parents informed. She has had a seizure during the night because of a low so i am hesitant. She does have the cgms but it is still not making it easier to make a decision. Can anyone give me idea of how they are taken care of at camp. Thank you.

Leelee that’s a great question. I was Dx’d at age 11 in small town Oklahoma. They shipped me to Children’s in OKC (nearest pediatric endo’s office, which was over an hour and 20 minutes away) and when I got there, those folks shipped me straight to diabetes camp (b/c all the pediatric endos were out there at the time). So I was exposed early on to diabetes camp :slight_smile: The camps are very structured. They have councilors for each cabin group and I’m pretty sure it’s almost a prereq to have diabetes to be a councilor (who is an older teenager/young adult who’s been dealing w/ D for a while). They have regularly scheduled ‘testing’ times, they have pretty good food (and a breakdown of carbs, etc, in the food they serve) so the kids can accurately bolus. I don’t know about checking during the night. I think if your daughter was having lots of hypos then you’d need to let them know and they could make special arrangments maybe? Otherwise, maybe just a bedtime check and then again upon waking. I learned a lot that first year of partial diabetes camp (made it to the last 4 or 5 days of the week long camp), and I went back a couple more times too. I was the only kid at my school to have diabetes so it was a nice way to meet/see others who were living w/ the same thing I was. I think it could be a great experience for your daughter. They also have a full medical staff (usually at least one MD and several med students on an endo rotation) and nearly everyone who volunteers at the camp is very much ‘in tune’ with diabetes management knowledge. I would try to get some more info about the camp, maybe contact them and ask if you can talk to previous campers and/or their parents, etc. Could be a good way to get the ‘inside scoop’. Hope that helps!

My daughter went to Diabetes Camp (in British Columbia) at age 8, 10 months after Dx. She was very well taken care of during her 6 night stay. Prior to her attending camp, we had to fill out a medical form and have her Endo sign off on it stating that she was a good candidate. She learned alot at camp - came home able to do her own injections and with ideas about how pumping worked and how other kids dealt with their diabetes. In addition, she had lots of fun doing normal camp stuff - fishing, playing group games, swimming, hiking, etc. She came home with a bag of D stuff and with a log of her BGs for the week so I could see how things went. There were 2 pediatric endos, umpteen nurses/educators and dieticians on staff for the week. They tested through the night as necessary. At least one of the two counsellors in each cabin had diabetes. I was pleased with many aspects of her experience including the ‘normalization’ of her diabetes. She wasn’t the only one with diabetes (we live in a small town where she is literally the only child with Type 1 in the community) nor was her diabetes the ‘big deal’ it is at home/school. Camp was good for her self esteem. Certainly she experienced some home sickness but that would be the same with any first-time camp experience. I have full confidence in her safety at camp and will send her again. Given that your daughter wants to attend, this would be an amazing opportunity for her I think.

Accredited diabetes camps are fabulous. I went to one when I was 9. Great to be around kids and counselors who all whipped out their syringes and vials before a meal (back in the pre-pump days). But what was really great was the swimming, and crafts, and horseback riding … normal activities we all could do. Diabetes does not get in the way.

Most accredited camps have strict protocols for counselors overseeing meter readings, dosing, treating lows, etc.

To find accredited camps, go to this site. Also, read the posts about camps on ChildrenwithDiabetes.com. Ask for references and referrals. Then pack the sleeping bag and put a smile on your face.

Years later, my mom told me that the camp asked that parents not visit, unless in case of emergency. To foster the independence of the campers. My mom apparently snuck out to the camp and peered through a fence to try to catch a glimpse of me. Apparently I was happily riding my assigned pony. I think at that moment she realized I would be OK for the rest of my life! Sending you both best wishes.

This is the best gift you can give your daughter.

I have to give a big endorsement for diabetic camps, too. I was also diagnosed at 11 - 11 months before my first time at camp- and I still remember today, many years later, my first thought when I saw all those kids that they had diabetes, too. It was a great experience. I went for two years. The second year we went on a three-day canoe and camping trip. The camp, called Camp Needlepoint when diabetics came for two weeks - was on the St. Croix River in Wisconsin, near Minneapolis. My counselor’s name was Banana. A guy who gave us tips on archery was named Squirrel. Doctors - one of whom was the well-known and respected Donnell Etzweiler - looked at our test results each evening to tell us how much to take for a bedtime snack - this was in 1969 and 1970 - and a nurse came in the morning to watch us give our shots - at that time only one of good old Lente insulin was given. Again, it was a great experience. Every diabetic kid should have it.

My kids don’t have diabetes, but I send them away to summer camp. It’s good to let go.

You’re understandably nervous and concerned, so I suggest doing you homework about the camp and about other camps, try to talk to other parents who have sent their children, talk to a counselor or the camp director. Satisfy yourself first and find another parent who might hold your hand while both your kids are at camp.

As hard as it is, we’ve got to let them grow up.


SEND HER! I’ve had diabetes since I was 12, and the first two summers after my diagnosis, my parents sent me to Florida Camp for Children and Youth with Diabetes in Ocala, FL. I can honestly say it was the best, and most empowering, experience of my diabetic childhood. And they took ridiculously wonderful care of us – to the point where some of us were sleep-deprived because our counselors kept waking us up to check our blood sugars and shove granola bars down our throats. As I remember, they tried to keep all of us on the high end, just to be safe.

This is a wonderful chance for your daughter to feel normal and have fun with kids who “get” what’s going on in her life. It’s also a great opportunity for her to learn more about taking charge of her own condition.

I can’t encourage you enough!

Hi leelee.

I am a TIDM, diagnosed at age 18 (now I’m almost 20) and worked (with 10 and 11 yr olds) at a diabetes camp last summer for a week. It was a great experience for me AND the kids. We had three doctors (all pediatric endocrinologists), numerous nurses and nurses in training, a dietitian, etc, on-site at all times. These people are professionals…both in their careers and at managing the camp and caring for the children. Most of the counselors also had diabetes. I HIGHLY recommend sending your daughter to a diabetes camp.


I worked at a diabetes camp for boys as a nurse after I graduated in 1996. We were contstantly checking the kids -at off times if needed, including the dreaded 2 AM checks with flashlights in hand, prowling into the canins…lol… There are counselors int he cabins as well, many if not all had D. They also tested if needed and were very aware of issues relating to D. There was a endocinrologist on site at camp at all times, along with several peds endo fellows.

I also recommend sending her. I went to a diabetes camp in Baltimore, MD when I was about your daughters age back in the 80’s and everyone I remember was just on shots. At that point I had never even seen an insulin pump before. I also went for a week and it was about 2 hours from where I lived. I had a blast and it was great to be around other children who were all diabetic and so were most of the counselors. Everyone looked out for one another, tested together, took their shots together and there are highly trained staff there. There were times when kids would get low(including me) and they would just be taken care of and monitored until they were ok again. There were always emergency kits available with anything we did (horse back riding,hiking, biking, swimming, trampolines, camp fires, talent shows and more) I only remember good things about that camp and my experiences there. I just wish I had been able to go more then one summer. Thinking back on it makes me wish they had adult diabetic camps!! :slight_smile: That camp is probably one of the safest places your daughter could be as a diabetic really. I think I was monitored more with my diabetes at that camp then when I was even at home!

Each camp is individual, though the accredited camps have an oversight committee of doctor and CDEs. The Diabetes Education and Camping Association is the best place to go to find good accredited camps: www.diabetescamps.org. I went to diabetes camp as a youngster and LOVED it. I met some really great friends there. As I said, each camp is unique so I only know what my camp in Oregon did. My camp checks campers several times a day, including overnight, and has several nurses and a doctor at the camp full-time. They did not contact parents unless it was necessary. Most camps will go above and beyond even what a parent will do to keep kid safe, but camps are designed and organized so that the impact diabetes has on camp activities is minimal. Everyone does it, so you don’t feel like an outsider or have to leave something early.

Hi Leelee, I was diagnosed at the age of 3 in 1958. I went to Camp Joslin in Mass. I reside in Connecticut. It was a two week cycle. I went in 1964 at the age of 10. It was the best thing I did. I still remember it like it was yesterdy. I was part of the polar bear club. Up at 5:30am to go swim in the lake. That way you are the first ones to have breakfast. Back then I only took insulin in the morning as did all of us at camp… The staff was great. Alot to do. I don’t remember if I even thought about my parents and 2 younger sisters while I was there.
I have been giving it some thought lately to donate some of my vacaton time to help.
SEND her, she will never forget it.

I went to a diabetes camp shortly after I was first diagnosed (at 12) and had a great time. The camp counselors that my camp used were actually pre-med/med students from a near by state college and they would come through and check our blood sugar at least twice a night. All of the other people in charge of the camp were endocrinologists who would volunteer their time. I never had a bad experience while at camp as I was surrounded by people who were more than familiar with my disease.

Your best bet would be to call the organization that is hosting the camp and express your concerns. I’ve only had experience with the one camp in the central Florida area so I’m not sure if this is how all diabetes camps operate across the board.

i love diabetes camp, almost everyone there diabetic including the staff everyone checks there blood sugars together and takes insulin together! were i go there’s regular testing times (breakfast 10am lunch 3pm dinner bedtime snack midnight and 3am and anytime there’s a physical actvity) also whenever the camper wants!