Checking Blood Glucose Levels at a Diabetes Camp

Dr. Fran Cogen Health Pro
  • At 3 am SHARP, Our camp resource coordinator (an energetic college student) woke up the kids and staff with the song: "Hello Muddah, Hello Fuddah: Here I am at Camp Granada." No worries about me waking up: I never went to sleep!


    1.     All campers were required to check blood sugars at 3 am. The counselors woke them up and our medical staff treated lows with rapid acting carbs and string cheese (no peanut butter because a camper had a peanut allergy).

    2.     At breakfast, and every meal thereafter, we reviewed blood sugars and made appropriate adjustments with insulin doses (insulin/carb ratios, etc.)

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    3.     Blood glucose levels were checked prior to the big dance on Saturday night, a camper birthday cupcake snack provided (free- no insulin required- in anticipation of frenzied dancing; and then rechecked 2 hours later prior to lights out!

    4.     On the final day of camp in which our campers did the ropes course and zipline, blood sugars were checked prior to the activity and lows were treated with rapid acting carbohydrates.

    5.     Blood ketones were checked when blood sugars were greater than 250 mg/dl twice in a row and rapid acting insulin administered.

    6.     We were prepared with an extra vial of insulin for every type used by the campers, including an extra glucagon kit as well as extra pump supplies. (We did have to use rapid acting insulin when one of the campers' insulin pen did not lower blood sugars as expected due to loss of potency.) Extra pods for the omnipod pump also were available for a pumper on the omnipod.


    We tried to prepare for the expected and unexpected.

    -KETONES: A hit of rapid acting insulin and extra fluids; gone in 3 hours in one of our young ladies!

    -Only 4 lows at 3 am after the Saturday night big dance! (Treated with string cheese after one of our intrepid nurse educators made a midnight run for extra string cheese!)

    -A bee sting: treated with Benadryl and "after-bite." No allergic reaction (we were prepared with an epi-pen if necessary).

    -Who would anticipate that someone would step on a rusty nail? (Fortunately, her Tetanus immunization was up-to-date.)

    -Who would expect 3 sprained ankles? Our PT did a great ace wrap job on all three for their mild sprains. R.I.C.E. (rest/ice/compression/elevation) treatment performed immediately and the kids were back on their feet relatively fast.

    Teen Romance?


    -AND who would expect that my staff and I would be changed by the camp experience?


    My 3 nurse educators and myself were "on" during the entire 4 days and 3 nights. We went from meal to meal, recorded blood sugars, trouble-shot highs and lows and arose at 3 am to check blood sugars and treat lows. I literally made rounds on the golf cart provided by the camp to pick up kids who had the "issues" described above. I even provided transportation down the hill for tired campers (Hidden agenda: I was able to eavesdrop on all the teen gossip and find out who was "hot," "cool," etc.)


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    We were physically and emotionally drained due to the anxiety of possible severe highs and lows as well as other physical ailments. We also were amazed and gratified regarding how much FUN the kids were having and how they did absolutely everything that campers without diabetes could do. We were pleasantly surprised that everyone checked blood sugars as directed without complaint, counted carbohydrates, and injected insulin without nagging. Everyone did it together: no one felt different. The talent show was a hoot and the dancing was exhausting. There was a solidarity that developed among all campers (and staff) that transcended diabetes. New friendships were tentatively developed with the promise of communication after the camp experience. The kids found others like themselves who had lived through the same collective experiences and felt "normal." Diabetes self-care skills were considered "routine."


    And, there was respite for the primary caregivers- at least for 4 days and 3 nights.


    I think we will do it again next year- despite the bugs, skunks, and exhaustion!


    Missed Part 1? Read it here!

Published On: August 31, 2010