So you’re thinking of sending your child to summer season camp. What a great concept! Camps are wonderful places — without parents — where children can experience the outdoors, find out brand-new abilities, make buddies, satisfy favorable good example, become more independent, and many of all, have a good time. Because your child has diabetes, you may be unsure what kind of camp is best for him, or you may hesitate to send him to camp at all for worry that his diabetes will not be managed by the camp personnel. However, a little research can help you choose the right camp for your child, and some preparation and direction on your part can minimize your worries. You just have to understand the abilities of the camp’s personnel and resources so that you can prepare accordingly.
There are two general types of camps from which to pick: diabetes camps and conventional camps Diabetes camps have doctor with diabetes-care experience on personnel, and the majority of incorporate diabetes self-management education into camp activities. Conventional camps are simply that: regular summer season camps without any diabetes focus and potentially no doctor on personnel. Either can be an excellent choice for a child with diabetes.
In the United States, there are over 100 camps that have actually been established for the purpose of serving only children with diabetes, though a couple of also take siblings or buddies as partners. Some of the camps have remained in existence for many years, before self-monitoring of blood sugar was even possible, when a diabetes camp was the only safe choice for the child who wanted a camp experience. Back then, a diabetes camp was among the only sources of diabetes education as well.
Today, diabetes camps vary, providing a variety of outside activities, arts and crafts, and other forms of leisure. All have access to (and should follow) the American Diabetes Association standards for the correct care of diabetes at camp. The camp medical staff may include doctors, nurses, dietitians, and often, pediatric citizens, medical students, nursing students, and social workers. The therapists typically have diabetes too, and many are previous campers. These therapists are fantastic good example and probably have more of an impact on the campers than the medical personnel does.
The objectives of a lot of diabetes camps are to include great diabetes management decisions into the camper’s daily life and to foster the outlook that a kid with diabetes can accomplish anything he wants. (Do not, nevertheless, anticipate a week or 2 of “best” blood glucose control. Camp is a big modification in routine and a learning experience.) Some campers have never ever even fulfilled another child with diabetes before. For these children, camp is particularly valuable. It can give them a sense of belonging that they don’t have back home.
Sending out a child to a standard summer season camp is a lot like sending him to school: It takes preparation. Since conventional summer camps don’t usually have personnel trained in diabetes problems, parents have to be really involved in familiarizing the camp personnel with diabetes care. Just as you finished with school staff, you will have to start with the very fundamentals of diabetes management and stress what the camp personnel needs to do to keep your child safe. Keep in mind that traditional camp staff will likely have even less diabetes experience than school workers. Do not presume that there is a camp nurse or that the camp nurse will have diabetes knowledge.
Which type of camp to select?
In selecting a camp, think of your child’s interests (such as sports, music, or art) and about how individually he handles his diabetes. He may want a particular sports camp, a Boy Scout camp, or a church camp that his youth group is going to. You might see worth in your child conference other kids with diabetes and learning about self-management.
As you think about all the possibilities, ask yourself the following concerns: Is it the very first time away from home for a child who does not yet examine his own blood glucose, or who does not want to stop playing when it’s time for his snack? Or do you have a teen who has been reliable and quite capable in all elements of his diabetes care? Is your child easily influenced by peers, so that diabetes care takes a rear seats? Does your child look for adult aid when he requires it? Does he dislike to tell individuals he has diabetes?
Parents of young, first-time campers will most likely be most comfy if their child attends a diabetes camp. Kids who require a lot of help and direction in their blood sugar self-monitoring, insulin injections, and food choices would absolutely take advantage of a diabetes camp.
Pragmatically, your decision might be most influenced by schedule and cost. The earlier you apply to a camp, the greater your chances of getting a spot. A lot of diabetes camps offer complete or partial scholarships, or “camperships,” based on financial requirement, so request for details about financial aid prior to you eliminate a camp that seems expensive.
Make sure the camp you are thinking about is accredited by the American Camp Association. Accreditation guarantees the camp takes certain safety measures, that include meeting tidiness standards, having a high staff-to-camper ratio, employing credentialed program personnel (such as lifeguards), and performing background examine personnel, among many others. Starting in the summer of 2002, the Association started notifying its member camps to the availability of diabetes-care guidelines that were established in partnership with the American Diabetes Association.
Preparing for camp
Many diabetes camps will provide info or a manual about how diabetes will be handled at camp. Parents can also call the director to discuss any specific concerns. Talking to the parent of a child who has actually gone to the camp can likewise be set up.
Preparing for a conventional camp experience will require more advance preparation. Parents need to be supporters for a safe, fun experience for their camper. Start by asking your child’s diabetes team for help and suggestions, then set up a meeting with the camp director. If possible, include the camp nurse if there is one. The camp nurse at a conventional camp is probably the only medical professional at camp. The nurse might have no Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes experience and might not be on responsibility 24 hours a day. Learn what you have to work with. Another team member may have to be associated with your child’s diabetes care. If the camp nurse is not available at this first conference, organize another time, but don’t plan on conference during camp check-in; it’s too busy then.
Be prepared to tell the camp director and nurse precisely what accommodations your child requires while he is at the camp. First, see if you can find a way to work within the system the camp has in location. For example, it might be simple to move your child’s breakfast time 45 minutes to coincide with camp breakfast time. However, insist on accommodations when essential. For instance, your child needs to carry treatment for low blood glucose at all times, whether food is usually allowed in camping tents or cabins or not.
After the meeting, put all the info the camp staff requires about your child’s diabetes care in composing and supply many copies for them to keep useful. Meet with your camper’s cabin counselor at check-in and review everything again. List the scenarios where you wish to be called and those where your camper’s doctor or diabetes team has to be called. Be sure you understand the camp’s policy on accepting telephone call from parents. Phoning in to camp is managed differently at each camp, and some camps highly discourage parents from phoning.
Here’s a rundown of the areas where you’ll have to prepare ahead, whether that indicates educating the camp staff or packaging additional materials. Ensure you cover each one of these following areas, even if your child is rather independent.
Blood glucose and ketone testing. To make sure your child’s blood sugar level is checked as often as it should be while he’s at camp, the following questions need to be responded to before camp starts: Who will be accountable for keeping track of and tape-recording if he can refrain from doing it himself? If the camper does monitor himself, who will ensure it’s done on time? If you figure out that a check needs to be done at midnight or 3 AM, who will be responsible for that? Where will the meter and strips be kept? (They need to be available at all times.) How will used strips and lancets be gotten rid of?
Ensure the camp staff knows when to check for ketones. If urine or blood ketones are favorable, direct that you or the child’s doctor be called instantly.
Low blood glucose. All camp staff in contact with your camper should have the ability to recognize hypoglycemia and know what to do if he has a low. Make a list of the symptoms of low blood glucose that your camper normally gets. Note more unusual symptoms too, simply in case. Consist of “seizure” on your list even if your child has never had one. Include a list of the situations in which low blood sugar is most likely to happen.
List the proper treatments for lows that take place prior to a meal and lows that happen in between meals. Make sure glucose tablets and other treatment for lows are brought by either your child or the therapist who is with him at all times. Explain what to do if your child resists treatment, and offer direction for reconsidering blood sugar after a low. Ensure you and the camp staff respond to the following concerns prior to check-in: How will treatment be taped? Whom will it be reported to? When will it be reported? Exists somebody at camp who can provide glucagon, if required? Where will it be kept? In an emergency situation, who will call an ambulance? How far is it to the nearby medical facility?
Insulin administration and modification. Make a prepare for insulin storage, injections, and dosage modifications. At camp, insulin must be kept in a fridge, even if you normally store opened vials at space temperature at home. Temperature levels in cabins, camping tents, or knapsacks can get really high, triggering insulin to lose effectiveness. The majority of camp infirmaries or health centers should have a fridge.
If your child can not draw up insulin or give himself an injection, designate a camp team member to look after it. (Again, do not presume the nurse will be offered at all times.) An older teen experienced with giving himself injections or using an insulin pump may have self-confidence to administer and change insulin on his own. Nevertheless, all campers, even independent ones, ought to have some staff oversight to make sure that injections or boluses are provided; it’s too easy to forget in the enjoyment of camp activities. Ask that an employee keep an eye on your child’s insulin administration, and make certain your child understands that this will be the procedure while at camp.
A word of caution to the skilled and the inexperienced: With the increased exercise at camp, the insulin dose may need to be minimized by about 10% (if this decrease is too much, the dosage can be increased the next day). If your camper cannot make insulin dose modifications by himself, you need to address the following concerns: Do you want the personnel to follow your camper’s home dosage schedule? Do you use a scale for raising and decreasing dosages that depends on your child’s premeal blood glucose level? How will choices about insulin doses be communicated to you? You may want to designate a time that camp personnel can call you at home.
If your child uses an insulin pump, make certain you send a back-up pump (if you have one), materials for insulin injections, and both short-acting and long-acting insulin. If your camper is not entirely independent in all aspects of pump use and programming, sending him to standard camp is most likely not a great idea. A diabetes camp would be a better option.
Meals and snacks. Get the camp’s menu ahead of time, as well as the times meals and treats will be served. Ask if there are frequent last-minute modifications to the menu and if meals are normally on time. This can be a problem at conventional camps. Firmly insist that your camper have simple access to food. Usually camps have a “no food in cabins” guideline; if so, this rule must be relaxed for your camper. Because of the high activity level at camp, it’s extremely important that your camper have an evening treat, and it’s most likely he’ll need a larger snack than he normally eats at home.
Review the menu with your camper and ensure that for each meal there is something he will eat. If not, arrange a substitute. The camp might allow foods from home. Campers may have access to vending makers, or they might have the ability to purchase treats at the canteen. Prepare your camper to make the right decisions about when to eat such treats and how much to have.
Diabetes supplies. Make a list of all the supplies your camper would possibly require for the duration of his camp stay and double it. This holds true even for insulin vials, which can quickly break. If your camper uses a pump, pack two times the amount of set changes you anticipate him to need. Always remember additional food, glucose tablets, and other treatments for low blood sugar.
Now, just relax
For many parents, camp time is a fantastic opportunity to take a break from the duty of diabetes care. Simply keep in mind that Boy Scout motto: “Be prepared.” If all the bases are covered, your camper can have a safe and satisfying experience — and you can unwind and enjoy your freedom, too. Whether you select a camp focusing on looking after children with diabetes or a standard camp program, good planning and preparation will ensure that your child returns home healthy and filled with memories that will last a life time.