We dropped my son at diabetes camp recently and while I’ve been to sleepaway camp for years and my daughter has also been at that sleepaway camp, diabetes camp is slightly different. It’s still a sleepaway camp but it’s a great place for children who have Type 1 Diabetes to go and still have that backup to help them take care of themselves. This is our experience and if you are sending your child to diabetes camp for the first time, I hope this puts your mind at ease. WThis post is just about Packing for Diabetes Camp.
My son was diagnosed over 4 years ago and really doesn’t know any other kids that have Type 1 Diabetes. He feels weird if I talk about it in public or if he has to manage his Diabetes. It’s rare that he’ll ever meet someone with Type 1 out in the wild and it has been slightly isolating for him. We finally got him to agree to go to a Diabetes camp…and then Covid hit. We did the diabetes camp online last summer and while that was great because he could talk to other kids about Type 1 Diabetes, he didn’t make any lasting relationships. We sent our son so he could realize that other kids manage their diabetes and take care of himself better, plus we needed a break ourselves. I really have not relaxed since he’s been diagnosed because it’s been such a roller coster, plus with Covid, we all needed a slight break from each other. As my son will be 16 this fall, he needs to be able to have that independence.
We were going to do two diabetes camps this summer, but Covid forced one of them to close. So last weekend we drove my son to New Jersey to attend his first diabetes camp for 12 days. We were told to allow around an hour and half for drop off, as he had to do an intake.
We got a PCR Covid Test before my son went and I had filled out many forms and sent them in before we went. That being said, it took us 2 hours to get my son checked in and set up.
Driving Into Camp
When we drove into the camp, our temperatures were all logged and my son was given a rapid Covid test. We had to remain in an area until he was cleared (not a big deal). We got lucky that the temperatures were in the mid-70’s and it wasn’t a sweltering day. We even had some rain drops!
Then I had to check my son into the health center and go through several stations. His height and weight were checked. His bare feet were checked. He was checked for lice. There was another room to check that all our forms were done and tell them what insulin brand he uses. Then we took his insulin pump and CGM supplies into another room and they gave us a clear plastic shoebox with his name labeled on them. That was put into a room and every time my son will need a pod change, he will come grab his shoebox.
At camp they change pumps every two days, which works for us because my son is in puberty and usually changes his pump every two days anyway. We were asked to take any extra insulin that we had with us home because campers were not allowed to have any insulin on them. The camp supplies insulin, we didn’t need to bring that.
Then we went outside to more stations. We checked in with a nurse (that we knew from our practice, Hi Jaki!) and she stopped my son’s Dexcom CGM from sharing with me. To be honest, it was hard getting that turned off. For the past 4 years, I’ve always monitored his blood sugar, even on the rare times that I was away from my son. For the time at camp, they handle everything and that was hard to get used to (but a good thing).
All his devices were logged and passwords were either taken off or written on the back and then we met with a nurse. I told her about the scary incident we had recently so it was on record. I told them about his recent bike accident. I met the Endocrinologist who could make pump adjustments (they run the pumps on 10% less insulin to account for camp activity and heat). We checked insulin to carb ratios, correction factors, basically every setting that my son’s insulin pump had. This can get boring for kids, so you may want to bring something they can do while they wait. It’s not boring to me because I have lived and breathed his Type 1 Diabetes for the last 4 years and I was very happy that I was treated as a partner in this.
Then we went to the dining room and checked in his other medication and went to two more stations. They have a file on each kid and a binder on each cabin. I gave in the last two weeks of his medical CGM and pump records. At this point we were slightly tired to the stations, but we were happy to see everything I had a question about was answered and taken care of.
While it was a long check in, I feel that it was very thorough. The camp is small, but the dining hall and health center were very centrally located. As in if there was an emergency, kids could be taken to the health center very quickly.
I also noticed that there were carb counts for the salad bar! We like that it was posted and we hope that they will teach my son to carb count better. We don’t restrict him or make him go low carb, but we do ask that he knows the carb amount and servings that he is eating and we are hoping that camp will help him learn how to do it more easily.
We’re used to always having him with his insulin, 1-2 pumps, glucose tabs and fruit snacks, finger pricker (Genteel) and his meter on him, plus his phone and Insulin pump PDM in his diabetes bag, so having him rely on going to the health center to change his pump may take my son some getting used to, but there are reasons why the camp does it this way. It will also get my son ready to go to his other camp (not a diabetes camp) in August, where most likely he’ll follow similar rules.
While B and I were doing the intake, my husband set up my son’s bed and cubbies for him. The cabin was clean and large, with a bathroom right around the corner from where my son was going to sleep.
We left our son at diabetes camp, hopeful and excited about the next 12 days. While it was hard not to know what his blood sugar is when he is at camp, I think ultimately this will be a good thing for him.