My Diabetes Inklings

Junior Camp – A fly on the wall

I couldn’t think of a better way to start the year than with diabetes camp! Junior Camp is organised and run annually by Diabetes Camp Victoria for kids with type 1 diabetes aged between 10 and 12 years old. This year, 65 kids had the opportunity to camp at Anglesea YMCA and did activities such as surfing, big swing, indoor rock climbing and had a day out at Geelong Adventure Park. Camps are a fantastic opportunity for kids to make friends with other kids their age living with diabetes. Often I overhear kids exchanging experiences and encouraging each other, which is what camp is about. For this camp, I went with my health professional hat on as a dietitian’s assistant rather than a leader or coordinator. I was grateful for this opportunity as this position is highly sought after but it also gave me the opportunity to sit back and observe camp with a different perspective.

There were many aspects of being a leader that I missed such as opportunities in getting to know the kids. On this camp, my role as the dietitian’s assistant was mostly to go through the amount of carbohydrate campers had on their meal trays or negotiating extra serves of carbohydrates into their meals. Although it was a vastly different role to what I’m used to, that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it! Observing camp also gave me a renewed appreciation for the coordinating roles on these camps. Having coordinated two Family Camps last year, I can imagine how much background work these guys would have done to get the camp running as smooth as it did. I paid attention to what the coordinators did and took away things that worked well. Hopefully I will get the chance to apply it in future coordinating roles.

There definitely was no shortage of shenanigans on camp though! Especially with creepy scarecrow Santa popping up in random places, giving us mini heart attacks!
There definitely was no missing out on shenanigans on camp though! Especially with creepy scarecrow Santa popping up in random places, giving us mini heart attacks!

The most beautiful part about being a fly on the wall was the chance to watch friendships blossom. Not just between campers, but also between leaders and health professionals. The bonds formed are another reason why many of us have a special place in our hearts for camp. I saw kids (and parents) at check-in who were a nervous wreck. For some of them, this would be their first camp away from parents (or vice versa). Over the 4 days on camp, I continuously heard the amazing accomplishments they achieved. From doing their first injection or line changes by themselves to going all the way to the top on the big swing, these kids gained something each day. I’m pretty sure I also saw magic happen at the disco when the quietest kid broke out with the craziest dance moves! For many of these kids and parents, diabetes camps is a life changing event. They go home with new diabetes management skills as well as good memories. One of the campers told us that although she didn’t bring a camera, she had many good memories in her head, which were even better than photos. To me, hearing statements like those meant equated to a successful camp. Diabetes is a cruel blow for these kids as they are forced to grow up way too quickly, facing the notion of life and death. But their positive attitude and strong will and determination will always continue to inspire me never to give up.

Diabetes Camp - a special family that campers, leaders and health professionals hold dear. Also an opportunity to go to Adventure Park!
Diabetes Camp Family – a special family that campers, leaders and health professionals hold dear. Also an opportunity to go to Adventure Park!

5 thoughts on “Junior Camp – A fly on the wall”

  1. My son is 10.5 nod he’s never successfully spent the night anywhere except relatives. I soooooo want him to be able to participate in something like this in the future. It sounds like a wonderful experience. I loved church camp as a kid and I can only imagine how great a diabetes camp would be! Thank you for sharing your experience!

    1. Hi Melanie,

      Thanks for dropping by. Many first time kids and parents share the same concerns. At least with diabetes camps, there are nurses and doctors around to give parents that extra peace of mind πŸ™‚ definitely a worth while experience to be a part of!

      Cheers,
      Ashley

  2. My son, Harry attended this camp as well! He had an AMAZING experience. After a year and a half of having diabetes, we are into the swing of things, but things can get testy and the routine can make him angry. But at camp everything was FUN. Everything. He came home with more confidence and a greater understanding that having diabetes is no barrier to leading a great, positive life. Seeing the leaders, many of whom have diabetes as well, was great for him. Thanks for being part of it! It was great to read your post. Mandy

    1. Hi Mandy,

      Thanks for dropping by. It was an absolute pleasure having Harry on camp! I’m so glad it has had such a positive impact on him. It also gave me the motivation to keep working on my carb counting skills rather than guessing my carbs most times. So it works both ways! I look forward to seeing him on future camps πŸ™‚

      Cheers,
      Ashley

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