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Summer camps specializing in diabetes

It’s winter and yet, for some families, it’s already time to think about next summer as registrations for day camps, or overnight camps, begin. However, it is not always easy for parents whose child is living with type 1 diabetes (T1D) to choose a summer camp, especially when the child is not independent in the management of their T1D and that the camp is not specifically adapted.

Fortunately, there are two camps in Quebec specializing in diabetes: Camp Carowanis and Camp pour enfants diabétiques de l’est du Québec (CEDEQ). These camps offer services and activities adapted to children living with T1D, and can thus help reassure parents!

Safety first

There are some things to consider when a child living with T1D registers to a summer camp. This is because changing their routine and increasing physical activity can impact blood sugar levels and increase the risk of hypoglycemia.

In a camp specializing in diabetes, these aspects are taken into account to provide a safe structure for children and adolescents. A good number of measures are therefore put in place to ensure the safety of campers such as training of workers on T1D and the associated risks, the establishment of protocols in the event of hypo or hyperglycemia, the availability of material, etc.

The team includes both healthcare professionals and people living with T1D:

  • Dietitians oversee carbohydrate counting and help children make choices based on their needs. 
  • Doctors and nurses provide education related to diabetes and monitor treatment (insulin administration, dose adjustment, change of catheters, etc.). 
  • Monitors living with T1D and/or trained by the medical team, ensure the safety and well-being of campers.

All of these measures are in place so that diabetes is not a cause for concern, and the child can have fun with their peers!

Meet people who live the same realities

While staying in a diabetes camp, children will meet, sometimes for the first time, other people who are living with T1D. The camp environment ensures that diabetes is lived as a positive experience by promoting learning through play and sharing. They can thus exchange their experiences with others. As a result, the summer camp is generally a good opportunity to learn and is less formal than the doctor’s office.

There are also family stays that allow the child and their family to learn about camp life together for a weekend. Children participate in activities while parents attend various workshops and conferences.

Back home

The team from both camps encourages children to be independent in the management of their diabetes. Thus, it is not uncommon to see the child return home with new skills, such as administering insulin on their own, counting carbohydrates, or even using new injection sites.

Changes in a child’s attitude to his or her diabetes can last overtime throughout the year and sometimes much longer. It is, therefore, possible to observe improvements in the management of diabetes at school, at home, and in extracurricular activities. A study also reported that specialized diabetes camps increase the quality of life of a child living with T1D.

Stays offered in Quebec:

Camp Carowanis:

The camp is set over 150 acres of land in the heart of the forest bordering Lake Didi in Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, in the Laurentians, about 85 km from Montreal.

Here are the different stays offered:

  • 2-week program: For children between 8 and 16 years old
  • 1-week program: For children between 7 and 15 years old
  • Weekends: For families with a child living with T1D aged 12 and under OR for teens between 13 and 17.

Teen Weekend is a brand new program designed to break through isolation and tackle issues that affect them. This is a great alternative for teens who often prefer shorter stays.

Registration for Camp 2022 have already started.

Camp pour enfants diabétiques de l’est du Québec (CEDEQ):

The camp takes place on the enchanting site of Camp Trois-Saumons in the Chaudières-Appalaches region. Campers have the chance to experience outdoor activities on the lake and in the forest.

Here are the different stays offered:

  • Youth camp: For young people aged 10 to 15. (2 weeks) OR for 9 and 10-year-olds (1 week / first stay). Next registrations for Youth Camp star February 1, 2022.
  • Family camp (week-end): For families with a child 8 years old or younger living with T1D. The next registrations for the Family Camp begin on March 1, 2022.

Whatever camp you choose, giving the child living with T1D the chance to go to a summer camp is a precious gift. These stays offer the opportunity to discover that they can go alone and come back proud of their accomplishments and learning.

References

  • Anarte, M. T., Carreira, M., Leiva Gea, A., Varela, E., Mateo-Anarte, M., López Siguero, J. P., & Leiva Gea, I. (2020). Diabetes Summer Camp in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes: Effects on well-being and quality of life. Endocrinología, Diabetes y Nutrición (English Ed.), 67(5), 326–332. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.endien.2019.08.008
  • Bultas, M. W., Schmuke, A. D., Moran, V., & Taylor, J. (2015). Psychosocial Outcomes of Participating in Pediatric Diabetes Camp. Public Health Nursing, 33(4), 295–302. https://doi.org/10.1111/phn.12218 

 

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