Camp Day2Day Helps Young Diabetics Through Education and Play
Memphis Camp Teaches Children & Their Loved Ones How to Handle a Diagnosis
A diabetes diagnosis can be scary for anyone – especially a child who doesn’t fully understand what lifestyle changes need to happen to help them manage it. This month, we teamed up with the American Diabetes Association for our annual Camp Day2Day, a four-day diabetes-focused camp that helps kids learn more about what a diagnosis means and how to handle it. In addition to receiving diabetes education, children are also able to engage in fun activities while interacting with their peers.
The Need for Earlier Diabetes Education
“There’s a rising incidence of children being diagnosed with diabetes earlier. It used to be later,” says Ann Marie Wallace, system community outreach coordinator for Baptist Memorial Health Care. “Now that pediatricians are finding it earlier, it’s more important that they’re in a camp setting where they can learn about their condition and why things may be a little different.”
Some severe diabetics might experience lethargy, find themselves slurring their words, and more – these are all side effects from the sugar in their system. Camp Day2Day gives children the chance to come and learn about their condition so they can better understand it. Campers can even bring a friend who may not be a diabetic so they have companionship and can educate their loved ones, too.
Not all campers are on medication – others are at risk and although they are not yet on medication, they can learn about the importance of their sugar levels, eating right, and counting carbs. Nurses are on site to help them monitor their own blood sugar with a special testing site that encourages each camper to check his or her sugar in the morning, at lunch time and after exercising. “The idea is being frequent about it,” says Ann Marie. “We know that during the summertime, more diabetic children are having problems. They’re not in school, they’re sleeping in later as opposed to getting up and eating and checking their sugar. They just tend to be less compliant in the summertime, so this is the perfect opportunity to make sure that regimen is in play.”
A Fun Place to Learn, Play and Socialize
While the diabetes-focused camp offers plenty of educational information, it’s built to be a fun experience like any other summer camp. Participants can take part in swimming, snack preparation, cooking classes, field trips to the Pink Palace to learn about nutrition labels, scavenger hunts, and more. Parents are invited on all field trips and have access to counselors from the Universal Parenting Place who can give them the assistance they need working through any issues they may be having with their children. Campers are given a journal so they can keep up with each day and record their thoughts.
“At the end of every day, the kids can play board games and interact with other campers,” says Ann Marie. “We know that with video games and everything, it’s important to encourage them to talk and intermingle and have those social skills.”
Living with diabetes can be difficult, but having the right skills to manage it at an early age can help make the transition as easy as possible. Keep an eye out for information about next summer’s Camp Day2Day or speak to your doctor if you’re interested in getting your child registered.