I’m packing my backpack, walking sticks and fishing rod as I head into the mountains for my annual volunteer work at an ADA camp for children with diabetes.
I will join a team of other professionals this week and again in another two weeks. I will lance dozens of little fingers to check for blood glucose values, organize the carbohydrate counting and make sure the kitchen is following the menus we have created for the coming months. A group of us will take the teens rafting and backpacking. We will spend sleepless nights as we check each child at least once so they and their parents can sleep soundly, knowing their child is safe with us. I will return on Sunday, so exhausted I will regret scheduling patients on Monday. And I will be so happy that once again, I added camp to my life.
For those of you that have attended diabetes camp, you are familiar with the huge learning curve. If you have not attended, put it on your “bucket list.” If you are unfamiliar with type 1 diabetes, you will learn more in one week than you could in a full semester at school. Even if you have a child with diabetes, the variation in outcomes associated with exercise, the dosing adjustments based on carbohydrate intake and the benefits of insulin pumps will all be part of your diabetes landscape for the week. If you are well versed in children with diabetes, you will still learn tons, and the volunteer crew will appreciate your expertise!
Going to camp also provides a wonderful escape from the day to day downloads of meters and pumps, education classes and paperwork. Kids have ah-ha moments and we remember again how great it is to be in the field of diabetes education, interacting with these kids who day in and day out are the real troopers.
There are multiple camps around the country that offer a variety of options for children with diabetes. If it is not the right year for you, put it on your list. You will return feeling the warmth of being a part of something very special.
How many of you have helped staff a diabetes camp? Did you love it as much as I do? What did you like/dislike about it? Why should other professionals make time for the experience? Share your stories with us!