Last week I spent my Summer vacation in the Sequoia national forrest. I went to diabetes camp; family camp. My youngest daughter was diagnosed about three years ago, it was quite a life altering event.
In my youth I went to a camp called Camp Odyssey. It was somewhere in the Sierra Nevada mountains near a lake called Ice House Lake. I can never remembered exactly where it was, but I went for three years in a row. It was so much fun.
This year my wife informs me that we are going to diebetes camp. The drive to Bear Skin Meadows was going to be about five hours. I knew about regular camp, but I had no idea what to expect in this situation. The idea of Family Camp seemed kind of weird. But it turned out to be another life altering event.
At camp we were about thirty families spread out over a couple of acres. We were grouped to about four or five families per deck. The sleeping arrangements were 40 x 40 foot decks with a small covered area for storage. We slept under the stars. Thankfully, there was no rain. In fact the weather was perfect the whole week.
The schedule was very planned, but not ridged. Usually after breakfast the parents would separate from their children (both diabetic and non-diabetic). The parents would go for an 90 minute education class and the kids had a rotating schedule of swimming, sports and games, archery, crafts, and drama. Then a communal snack, then more education for the parents and another event for the children. Then lunch was served, then free time where parents could do one of the above activities with their children, or go off camp. Later would be another snack and then dinner.
On some nights the children would be taken back to the decks by their counselors and other staff would stay with the parents and we could talk in the dining hall.
Parents come with their children to family diabetes camp because there is no way we would ever think of leaving our children in the charge of strangers. Usually friends and family have to go thru a twenty to thirty minute teaching lesson before we will leave our diabetic child with them. And forget about sleep overs. But at Bear Skin Meadows the first night everyone is gathered around the stage and the counselors are introduced and the children in their group are called down. And then they go off. For me this caused a little bit of panic. Who are these teenagers and young adults taking my diabetic child? The camp director tells everyone that 90% of the counselors have diabetes and they are all trained in emergency procedures, they all have “low bags” that include blood glucose checking kits and candy. After a week of this schedule and being around the staff and counselors I can attest that this is true. I have never before been around a group of young adults that have my implicit trust.
I’ve found a place where, for a week each summer, I don’t have to worry about my daughter’s diabetes.