At the ends of camps, parents will thank you profusely, and I always feel happy, but also a little bit guilty. Volunteering on these camps is definitely something I want to do, and LOVE to do, for kids for diabetes, but it’s also something I want to do for me! These camps lift my spirits. They pull me out of burnout, and I get to spend time with kids who are hurtling through different stages of life with a useless pancreas to boot. Being surrounded by diabetes, and not feeling different, isn’t something that only the kids experience. The leaders (those with diabetes) experience it too, and I benefit as much as any camper from the camps. I’m so lucky to have the opportunity to volunteer on these camps. We may be exhausted, but there is no other place where I would rather be sleep deprived than on a diabetes camp!!
Family camp was so interesting – after working and volunteering with teenagers, to be on a camp with parents and tiny kids was eye opening. I got a look into the other side of diabetes – how much parents worry, and how tough these kids are. Hell, I had a hard time at 17 – when a five year old comes over and lisps “I’m hypo”, I just want to give them all a massive hug. They are dealing with obstacles that none of their friends do, and seeing these kids meet others with diabetes, and hearing adorable conversations about their “jell’beans!”, makes me want to high five every single one of them. They’re all champions.
Camps are awesome. Kids walk away feeling less alone, more independent, and owning their diabetes. I walk away exactly the same. Camps have to keep going – the sense of family and peer support I’m sure these campers will gain, and that I already have, is imperative to helping them tackle their diabetes and live an awesome, long, and healthy life.
I'm 23, Australian, and a Type 1 Diabetic. My diabetes doesn't define me, but it is here to stay and sometimes I like to write about it. Welcome to my blog!