his is the first year that both of my young kids are in summer camps. They are just in preschool camps at ages three and five, but it is quite daunting with the options and trying to schedule every week to have childcare with two full-time working parents. My son has a nut allergy and every week I drop him off, I leave his epi pen and discuss what foods are being served and/or bring things from home for him to eat. With the widespread awareness of nut allergies these days, I feel a little more confident to leave him.
I cannot imagine all the emotions a parent of a child with diabetes must have to leave their child, for even a day, in a new environment. Food allergies are mostly a concern at snack and meal time, but diabetes can be a challenge at any hour! That’s why diabetes camps are amazing for kids. The staff are trained and parents can be confident that their child is in good hands. In central Kentucky we have a couple of local options for diabetes camps. We have a one-day camp that is put on by our AADE Local Networking Group and the Lexington Lions Club. We also have a week-long camp called Camp Hendon.
Melissa Kleber, RD, LD, CDE, MLDE with Diabetes Education Consultants, LLC out of Louisville Kentucky volunteered at Camp Hendon this summer and shared her experience:
“I love Camp Hendon! This is my eighth year volunteering at camp, and it's been a life-changing experience for me. I hear time and again from the kids at camp that they love to be there and feel 'normal' for a change. I'm 'odd' because I don't have diabetes! They also develop life-long friendships through Camp Hendon.”
I have had the opportunity to work at the day camp several years in the past and it has always been a great experience to see kids making new friends where every child has diabetes. It also helps that the camp is onsite the day before the local fair and carnival opens so the kids get exclusive VIP access to all the rides. Numerous diabetes educators are there to do blood sugar checks and monitor insulin doses and carbohydrate intake throughout the day.
Even though it’s mid-July, there are still tons of camps between now and when school starts next month! There’s a really good chance they could still use some extra hands, especially if you are a licensed health professional. If you are a student in the field I’m sure they could use your help too.
Here are a few websites I found to locate camps around the US. It would be a great way to give back and you will find it equally rewarding for yourself!
About the Author
Amy Campbell is a dietitian and certified diabetes educator. She currently works in public health in Lexington, Kentucky and has been working in diabetes for over seven years.