Saturday, April 23, 2016

Tales of a diabetic father: the importance of camps, for both the children and the parents

For several years, our seventeen-year-old son has attended Camp Sioux--an American Diabetes Association sponsored camp just west of Park River, North Dakota.  Our eight-year-old daughter went for the first time last year for the entire week.  Prior to this, she has gone to their day camps, which have been typically on Tuesdays.

The day camps for the younger children are more personable for the parents, as we spend the entire day at the camp.  The last time I went, two other families were in attendance, and I was struck by the notion that we've been battling type 1 diabetes with our children for a long time.  My son was diagnosed in August 2001 (one month before the dreaded 9/11) and my daughter in November 2009.

Yes, a long time.

I was also struck by the notion that children with diabetes are alone in their battle.  Typically, unless they live in a larger city, they may be the only one in school who has it.  Hence the reason why diabetes camps, like Camp Sioux or Camp Needlepoint near the Twin Cities, is very important.  The children not only bond with other diabetes children, they learn to be more independent in their diabetes care.

The two families I met both had children who were just recently diagnosed.  They held some of the same fears as my wife and I had in the beginning--not that we still don't have fears, because the minute we let our guard down, life throws us a curve ball.  As you can see, the camp is important for the parents too.  I only wish there was more of a bonding time with the other parents who dropped their children off.

I'm sure they all have lessons to teach as well.

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