Summer camp tips for parents of type 1 diabetics

Extra planning ensures a safe camping experience for type 1 diabetics.

Summer camp season is quickly approaching and chances are your child is looking forward to attending a summer camp. Generally, camp planning includes scheduling the dates and submitting the registration forms and you’re good to go. If you’re a parent of a type 1 diabetic (T1D) child, then additional planning most likely includes inquiry into the day-to-day safety and management of your child’s diabetes care at camp.

Choosing the right camp is part of the planning
  • Review the camp registration form thoroughly. Does it ask about existing health conditions?
  • Does the camp state policy, or show a clear understanding of health & child protection policies?
  • Are you asked to submit in detail your child’s health management plans?
  • Is the camp asking for a medical release, general liability release or any medical history forms?

For youth with T1D, simply going to camp, being active, having varied eating schedules and being out of a normal routine can affect their insulin usage. Ask if there is a full-time, part time and or activity designated medical personnel on staff. This can help you decide your family’s level of planning. Even if your child is experienced in self-managing their diabetes day-to-day without incidents, knowing they have a designated staff person is reassuring.

Signs of a medically prepared camp
  • The camp lists diabetes health care professionals as part of their staff
  • Glucose control is clearly outlined as an area of focus
  • The camp has an on-site medical area equipped with diabetes care supplies
  • The camp asks for a written diabetes care plan
  • Plans are in place for hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia

The American Diabetes Association offers a  list of camps for T1D exclusively devoted to youth with T1D. One of those camps, Camp Midicha  is located in Fenton, Michigan and offers T1D youth 5-17 years old a safe camping experience.

Obviously, youth with T1D can choose to attend any camp they wish. If you are sending your child to a camp that is not designed specifically for teens with T1D you may wish to review the children's rights at camp tip sheet to help guide you in your planning.

For the most complete sense of security surrounding your child’s diabetes care at camp, speak directly to the camp staff and ask your child’s healthcare team. More information on diabetes and diabetes self-management can be found at Michigan State University Extension.

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