Diabetes Summer Camp for Kids

Kerri Sparling Health Guide
  • When I was a kid, I went to the Clara Barton Camp for Diabetic Girls and spent five summers in a row hanging out with other kids who had diabetes. For me, a girl from a small town with no other diabetics roaming around, it was the coolest place ever.


    There, I fit in.


    Early in the morning, before we would all head down to the mess hall for breakfast, one of the counselors would roll in this medical cart filled with glucose meters, test strips, vials of insulin, and syringes with their orange caps, all lined up. As a cabin, we'd all rub the sleep from our eyes as we lanced our fingertips and took our morning doses of insulin.

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    During our meals, the whole camp would come together and sit at these long, wooden tables. Food would be served in accordance with our pre-designated meal plans and as the dishes were placed in front of us, we'd sing goofy camp songs and taunt one another and generally act like completely silly fools. (See also: awesome) Granted, we had to eat every morsel on our plates, because at that time, kids weren't all pumping. I can't remember seeing a pump at camp back in 1987. We were all on some kind of peaking insulin, so our doses were scheduled in careful calibration with our estimated food intake. I can remember sitting at the table, longer than my cabin mates, forcing down coleslaw because "I'd already dosed for it." Now, with the options for long-acting insulins that mimic basal rates, rapid acting insulins like Humalog and Novolog, and the huge rise of insulin pump use, the old-school practices of NPH and Regular seem downright archaic.


    (Whoops - bit of a digression there. Sorry. But we have come a long way in the last 20 years, dagnabit! :) )


    At CBC, we played softball and kickball. We went on hikes and practiced archery and put on skits at the end of the sessions. We made up songs and had late-night gossip fests and we laughed like little girls should. The amazing part is that despite all the focus on diabetes, from the simultaneous testings every morning to the mandatory snacks before bed, it was the place were I felt the least diabetic of all.


    Everyone was just like me, in that way. We had different backgrounds and different schools, lived in different states and some of us had different accents, but we were the same where it counted - in the pancreas. We didn't have to explain what "that black zippered bag" was for and finding a syringer plunger cap under your bed wasn't a big deal at all - it was all expected and anticipated and completely normal.


    One of the counselors at CBC was a singer/songwriter, and she wrote a beautiful song about camp. I can remember it clearly to this day, and one of the lyrics was "It's the most wonderful place in the world ..." That's one true lyric.


    I miss the "good ol' days" at CBC, but I'm very thankful to have found something so similar here in the diabetes online community. Even if we aren't all "shooting up" together every morning, being part of a group that knows what real life with diabetes is like is just as good.


Published On: November 13, 2009