Thursday, April 22, 2010

To Go, Or Not To Go!

I remember a time when my daughter was too little to go to a diabetes camp. I waited for years till the time she would finally be able to attend. When she finally hit the age to go several things happened. First she didn’t want to go! Second I was afraid to let her go overnight after all she needed me! (even if the camp has doctors and nurses I somehow thought she wouldn’t survive without my presence ).

So the first year which I remember clearly because it was my husbands & my wedding anniversary and instead of shipping her off and going away we stayed local and I volunteered at the camp (you know just in case she needed me). We settled on a local 3 day camp to see how she did. I volunteered in the kitchen (those who know me, will recognized the dedication to my daughter because I hate to cook or even be in a kitchen).

The camping experience for her was so wonderful I couldn’t believe how easily she fit in and how good she felt about being around others just like her. Since I was working in the kitchen and they did a lot of things in the big room there I got to see first hand the interaction between little ones and older experienced kids. How they all encouraged each other and feed off of the smallest accomplishments. These kids became excited about simply testing an arm rather than a finger! Nikki and Patrick's First overnight camp is the “Circle Of Life Camp”. I mention this camp because I know first hand the quality of care and entertainment that my daughter and my son have received. It's funny that something like going to a diabetes camp can really shape your child and build them relationships that can last a lifetime. My son attended this camp (thankfully not on on the same days as Nikki , you know he was a teenager then and didn’t want to mix with the little campers (I guess they like their own space). My Patrick has made so many friends through this camp that even as he prepares to go away to college he still stays in contact with several of them. He has actually stayed in contact with so many of these kids that some days he has more friends with diabetes around him than not! The other cool thing is that now that the kids are getting older they are volunteering at these camps and giving back to the community that has helped them so much.

I guess what I am trying to say is that if you have the opportunity to let your child attend a camp and there are some great ones, such as the Sugar Free Gang, Circle Of Life, and The Barton Center another truly inspiring camp that’s worth letting your child attend. The Barton Center gave Nikki a group of friends to bond with and build a relationship with. I know that some of the camps are quite costly but be aware you can do fund raisers to send your child to camp and you can also contact your local groups such as Rotary & Elks Clubs (some of these local clubs are happy to help a child go to camp) and many camps also have a scholarship fund they can draw to.

It is worth every penny to have your child involved in a diabetes camp, they learn, they thrive and they grow! Oh and Nikki told me right after I finished volunteering at the Circle of Life Camp that it was ok if I didn’t volunteer again because she wanted to be on her own like the big girls! (whew, no more cooking for me)!

Camp Information

The Circle Of Life Camp

The Barton Center

DLife List of Diabetes Camps

Mom of Nikki Tyler (12), Patrick (18) & Adam (21) All Type 1

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