Reviewed by Robert Ehrman, MD
Summertime means freedom from the pressures of school, time with your friends and maybe even a family trip to a favorite vacation spot. For many kids, summer also means going to camp.
Just because you have diabetes doesn’t mean that camp is not for you. It is possible for kids with diabetes to go to camp. In fact, most states have camps just for kids with diabetes.
What is a diabetes camp like?
Camps for kids with diabetes are fun and have the same activities as other camps: games, crafts, swimming, boating, hiking and other outdoor activities. For many campers, it is a chance to try new things and make new friends.
If you go to a school where you are the only one with diabetes, it can feel lonely. You may not have anyone your age to talk with who can really understand what it is like for you. You also may feel different because you have to do things while you are at school to manage your diabetes. At diabetes camp, all of the kids have diabetes. Many of the counselors do, too. You don’t have to worry about feeling different or trying to fit in. Just think, you won’t be the only one checking your blood glucose before a meal. Everyone does it!
Along with all of the fun activities, you get the chance to manage your diabetes on your own. Although there are doctors, nurses and counselors to help, it is a good time to feel more in charge of your diabetes. There are lots of chances to learn from the other kids and to teach them what you know about being a kid with diabetes.
Should my child go to diabetes camp?
Camp gives many kids with diabetes a chance to blossom and feel like just a kid—instead of a kid with diabetes. They have a chance to be with others like themselves and learn the skills they need to take on more of their own diabetes care. For example, many children give themselves their first insulin shot at camp with the support of the other campers and help from the nurses and doctors. Camp also can give you a needed break from the day-to-day work and worry of your child’s diabetes. Although camps often charge a fee, there is usually help to pay for them. Many camps have a policy of not turning anyone away because they cannot pay.
What’s the best way to find a camp?
Two websites to help find a camp for your child are childrenwithdiabetes.org and diabetes.org. There are both day camps and sleep-away camps. There also are weekend camps in the winter and camps for whole families.
You can find an accredited camp from the American Camping Association (acacamps.org).