This is the fifth in a seven-part series chronicling a week of life at family diabetes camp.
Today is the day when our families need a break. They need to escape the education, the other families, and the routines of camp life. Although this session has only been three days thus far, today families are ready for some "me" time. They have been saturated with learning, sharing, and diabetes.
The staff need a break too. They have been sharing non-stop, giving it their all with the campers, and working with the families tirelessly to ensure that our participants walk away with a love for camp that will carry them through the year.
Today is all about Families in the Forest. Families and staff were given the instructions to leave camp after morning snack and not return until dinner time. This was their chance to go out and explore the beautiful environment where camp is nestled.
Where did they go? Some buddied up with other families and some went alone to explore the different areas of the Sequoia National Forest and Kings Canyon National Park. Some went on hikes, others went to the Park's visitor center, and yet others went to see some of the biggest trees in the world at the many Sequoia groves in the area.
Most families, however, went to a nearby resort-type camp five miles down the road to buy forest-famous milkshakes, burgers, and French fries at the burger shack that aptly sits on the main road through the park. Of course, before the start of Families in the Forest we always tell our families how many carbohydrates are in each size of shake so that the parents know how much insulin their children will need to cover what is consumed. We talk up the milkshakes and encourage families to go and check it out.
Now normally our camp is quite concerned with healthy eating, offering well-balanced meals, whole grains and whole snacks, but this is one exception where we encourage a little (OK a lot) of indulgence.
What's the big deal with a milkshake? Normally, nothing.
But, for a few of these families this is a huge indulgence of epic proportions. Many families come to us under the myth that their children must be limited in the amount of carbohydrates consumed, or cannot eat sugar at all. Typically these are the families that have very limited access to good health care either because they are in very rural areas, or because they simply do not have the resources. They don't know how to carbohydrate count, adjust insulin or veer off their meal plan.
At camp, we teach them how to do all of these things and this is their chance to really practice. The process of buying and consuming a thick, sweet milkshake can be very liberating, not just for the child with diabetes but for the whole family.
Our families and staff returned ready for our evening program -- The Family Camp Variety Show. Some families had practiced for this event for months, while others just slapped something together today.