Islets of Hope for persons with diabetes
Article by Lahle Wolfe, Founder, Islets of Hope.
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Why attend a diabetes camp?
They are fun. They are safe. It is a chance for your child to participate in “normal” childhood activities that are structured in such a way as to maximize participation without compromising good health. Your child will make new friends who understand diabetes. And camp administrators and counselors who have diabetes can serve as positive older mentors to children who need to see that life goes on even after a diagnosis of diabetes.
Sending your child to diabetes camp can also provide some respite care for tired parents, and even offer more time for other non-d siblings. All in all, if you choose the right camp for your child, it adds up to a good thing for the entire family.
Another add plus to choosing a diabetes camp over a non-diabetes camp is that you will not have to educate the staff about diabetes care, ask for special accommodations, or worry about canulas popping out during swim time (if they do, a diabetes camp knows what to do!). And diabetes camps will have medically trained personnel accessible all the time … not just 911 to handle emergencies.
How to find a camp
You can use one of the referral directories listed below, but a better place to start is by trying to find one “word of mouth.” Poll support groups in your area, ask your endocrinologist. Since any camp can advertise for a fee, do not automatically assume that just because a camp is listed on an organization’s website it is the best one for your child.
Once you have chosen a camp that seems to fit the needs and interests of your child be sure to contact the camp directly. Is the staff helpful? Friendly? Do they return calls within a reasonable time frame? Do they seem rushed, impersonal, either unable or hesitant to answer your questions? A staff that is too busy off-season to answer your questions may be a camp to put lower on your list of choices.
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Dealing with homesickness
Any child can get a little homesick while at camp. Children with diabetes may have special apprehensions about whether or not they will get care as good as Mom and Dad provide at home. It is important to reassure your child ahead of time that you are confident in the camp staff’s ability to help them with their diabetes care plan.
Plan to write to your child as often as the camp permits (preferable daily). A camp that does not permit contact between parents and children (some do limit contact so be sure to ask about contact rules) is probably not the best choice for young children.
If your child is simply too young, or not ready emotionally for away-camp, there are also diabetes day camps and even diabetes family camps where the entire family can attend! Explore all options available and discuss them with your child; a child who feels like they have some say in where to attend camp is more likely to have a positive attitude about attending camp for the first time.
The cost of camps depends on the type of camp, the programs offered, and how long the camping period lasts. Ask if the camp offers a payment plan, or if scholarships (sometimes also called “camperships”)are available.
Many camps do not advertise scholarships but often hospitals and drug/diabetes product manufacturing companies offer limited diabetes camp scholarships. Ask your doctor if he/she is aware of any programs in your area. You can try searching the Internet using keywords like “press releases diabetes camp scholarships” because major companies offering scholarships like to brag about them!
Kids can go to Diabetes Summer Camp Thanks to New Scholarship Program ... read the LifeScan Press release... 10 Winning Entrants To Be Randomly Selected-Entry Deadline April 15
..."MILPITAS, Calif., February 15, 2000 - Ten children with diabetes can now enjoy a summer camp experience tailored specifically for them, thanks to a new diabetes camp scholarship program sponsored by LifeScan, Inc., the leading maker of blood glucose monitoring products for people with diabetes, and ChildrenWithDiabetes.com. The ten randomly-selected winners will each receive a $500 scholarship to the diabetes camp of their choice, as well as a free FastTake® Blood Glucose Meter from LifeScan with 100 test strips, and a disposable camera. According to the American Diabetes Association, attending a diabetes camp is important for children with diabetes because it promotes greater self-confidence in managing their diabetes, as well as personal independence. "
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Diabetes Health Magazine
Page Updated 03/17/2006