Diabetes Camps Make a Difference

Jun 20, 2016

Every year, diabetes summer camps give thousands of young people living with diabetes a safe environment in which to manage their blood glucose while enjoying a classic American summer camp experience. Though these camps may last only a few short weeks, the results from a recent survey by the American Diabetes Association show that the diabetes camp experience has a positive and lasting effect on how young people view themselves and their diabetes.

Three years ago, the ADA began surveying young people at various summer camps to see how they serve campers and families. Last year the ADA hosted 58 single-day and overnight camp sessions in 25 states, serving nearly 6,000 young people. In 2015, after collecting three years of data from camps, researchers found that aside from just connecting campers with other people in the diabetes community, these camps actually benefited campers across the board in the key areas of confidence and diabetes management.

According to the results of the survey, campers had a 10 percent increase in their confidence in managing their diabetes (16 percent in newly diagnosed campers). This confidence boost was coupled with a 7 percent drop in anger related to the disease. The survey also found that the exposure to other people living with diabetes through the camps made campers 8 percent more open to exploring new types of diabetes management.

Campers saw equally large gains in diabetes knowledge and management. Recently diagnosed campers showed a 19 percent increase in their ability to manage their diabetes, with campers across the board showing a 10 percent increase in the ability to troubleshoot issues with their diabetes. The survey also found that there was an 11 percent increase in overall knowledge about diabetes as well as better ability to count carbohydrates and dose insulin.

At their core, diabetes camps are really just regular summer camps, with canoes, crafts, cabins and all the other classic activities.

“The only difference is that these camps are designed specifically to help these kids feel normal again. Diabetes doesn’t rule the kids; they rule their diabetes.” - Jane Chiang, M.D., American Diabetes Association senior vice president of medical and community affairs.

To learn more about the survey and American Diabetes Association camps, including information on scholarships and how you can get involved with providing more children the ability to attend camp, check out the details and new video at diabetes.org/camp.

To find a diabetes camp near you, use the Diabetes Education & Camping Association’s camp finder: https://www.diabetescamps.org/camp-finder/P20

Post by Luke Henning.

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