Diabetes Management at Camps for Children With Diabetes

  1. American Diabetes Association

Since Leonard F.C. Wendt, MD, opened the doors of the first diabetes camp in Michigan in 1925, the concept of specialized residential and day camps for children with diabetes has become widespread throughout the U.S. and many other parts of the world. In 2011, approximately 30,000 children attended diabetes camps in North America and over 16,000 more campers participated in one of the 180 diabetes camps throughout the rest of the world.

The mission of camps specialized for children and youth with diabetes is to facilitate a traditional camping experience in a medically safe environment. An equally important goal is to enable children with diabetes to meet and share their experiences with one another while they learn to be more responsible for their condition. For this to occur, a skilled medical and camping staff must be available to ensure optimal safety and an integrated camping/educational experience.

The recommendations for diabetes management of children at a diabetes camp are not significantly different from what has been outlined by the American Diabetes Association (the Association) as the standards of care for people with type 1 diabetes (1) or for children with diabetes in the school or day care setting (2). In general, the diabetes camping experience is short term and is most often associated with increased physical activity and more controlled access to food relative to that experienced at home. Thus, while away at camp, glycemic control goals are more related to avoiding blood glucose extremes than optimizing overall glycemic control (3,4). The management protocol aims to balance insulin dosage with activity level and food intake so that blood glucose levels stay within a safe target range, especially with respect to the prevention and management of hypoglycemia (5).

Each camper should have a standardized comprehensive health history form completed …

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  1. doi: 10.2337/dc12-s072 Diabetes Care vol. 35 no. Supplement 1 S72-S75