Family Camp is the only diabetes camp that runs twice a year to ensure every applicant gets an opportunity to attend. Last weekend, I headed back to help coordinate the second camp. As I mentioned last week, the thing I love most about Family Camp is the different perspectives of living with diabetes you get. In my last post, I spoke about living with diabetes from a parent’s perspective.
An observation I have made in the past is that kids with diabetes tend to mature a lot quicker than their peers with a fully functioning pancreas. Living with diabetes is a huge concept for kids to deal with. They know that they should sit out of games if their BGLs are too low or high. Many understand and acknowledge that without insulin they would die. Not to mention that ketones are their mortal enemies. Finger pricks and insulin injections become daily necessities to stay alive.
Diabetes camps give kids with diabetes the opportunity to meet peers and even adults who live with diabetes. If adults get excited seeing diabetes in the wild, imagine how kids react! There are always hushed excited whispers from kids to their parents in response to all the different colours/skins/pumps/pens they see from others. From there, we encourage conversations about diabetes and pretty soon, they realise that diabetes is normal at this camp.
Over the weekend we encourage kids (and even adults) to try something new with their diabetes. Of course we had lots of tears (happy and scared) in the process. But seeing kids and parents beaming with pride at their achievements was priceless. We saw many kids prick their fingers, give themselves insulin or try a new site for the first time. I joined the bandwagon and tried a new pump site too! Happy days for all.
On camp, it’s heartwarming to see kids comforting their new friends if they have a hypo or a high BGL. Sometimes, they sit with them until they’re good to play again. A leader even told me over one of the weekends that she had a camper gently rub her back as she was treating her hypo.
For these kids and their parents, and even volunteer leaders with diabetes, these camps is where our differences (in pancreatic function) brings us together. It’s where anything talking or seeing anything diabetes related feels normal. Even when the lead diabetes educator runs past a table and rips her own pump site out.