Over the weekend, I was out coordinating a diabetes camp for families with Diabetes Victoria. We had 21 kids aged between 4-8 years old with a parent or carer, nine volunteer leaders, four diabetes nurse educators, two volunteer coordinators, one dietitian, one photographer and one staff coordinator. Family Camp is one of my favourite camps as I get to hear different perspectives of living with diabetes from both kids and parents. This is two-part series that will be continued next week, after the second Family Camp!
Looking after kids is a full time job. I can’t imagine the level of time management and organisational skills parents must acquire throughout parenthood. Kids need to be fed, washed, dressed, sent to preschool/kinder/school/activities/play dates in between household chores, other kids, work, or whatever life throws at parents. Now throw a diabetes diagnosis for the child. Carbohydrates in each meal needs to be considered, giving insulin shots and testing BGs sometimes becomes a war, sleepless nights worrying about their child’s BG becomes the norm and sleepovers and parties become a nightmare to coordinate. Suddenly, keeping them alive, happy, healthy and still letting them be kids becomes 100x tougher.
Many parents on camp have never met another parent with a child with diabetes. So for many parents, Family Camp provides an unique opportunity in a safe environment to debrief, vent their frustrations and share their experiences on looking after a child with diabetes. They also learn more about the latest evidence-based research and technology in diabetes management from healthcare professionals and have opportunities to ask them questions outside of a clinical environment where no query is too silly.
Parents also get to meet and chat to many leaders who also live with diabetes and hear their experiences and stories. Leaders with diabetes provide inspiration, motivation and relief to parents that their child can grow up healthy and adapt to life with diabetes while achieving their goals. On the other hand, leaders without diabetes also provide a different perspective as they share their reasons for volunteering on camp.
As an added bonus, yummy meals are provided, carbs have been counted and there are volunteer babysitters looking after their kids while they attend information sessions.
One of the kids on camp said that she had “dropped all her messes” when she was clearing up after a scone-making activity. And it feels like a good metaphor for what diabetes throws at us and for our parents. So I hope that after Family Camp, parents go home feeling more capable of dealing with the mess that is diabetes.