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From New Jersey, USA:

I have an 8 year old daughter who has been diabetic since she was 1 year old. She is considering a sleep away camp for this summer (non-diabetic) and I am concerned about how the camp will manage her diabetes care. I am curious as to what protocols, if any, exist for camps with respect to storage of needles, finger sticks, etc. I have told them that she must be able to keep her blood sugar testing kit with her, but they require that all insulin and syringes be kept with the nurse. Is this typical regardless of the age of the child?


I imagine you have been considering a number of factors in choosing your daughter's camp and I wonder if you have thought of a diabetic camp. You could locate the nearest one at Camps for Children with Diabetes. The two special advantages that they offer are excellent medical attention and a chance to meet other young people with diabetes.

At our diabetes camp in Colorado, all syringes and insulin supplies are kept in the nurse's station. Since this is a camp for diabetic children, everyone has their own testing materials in their cabins. Actually the meter companies give everyone an instrument plus a few extra for the staff to use.

Camp nearly always involves a significant reduction in daily insulin, so be sure to talk this over with your daughter's doctor before she goes.


Additional Comment from Dr. Lebinger:

Although children with diabetes can attend sleep-a-way camps for non-diabetic children, it is a big responsibility for the child and the camp. I usually suggest that if a child wants to go to sleep-a-way camp for non-diabetic children, they first attend a camp for diabetic children if possible, to get practical experience in managing diabetes in an active camp setting.

In my experience, all camps for non-diabetic children require that insulin and syringes be kept in the infirmary and that insulin administration be done under supervision of a camp nurse. (I think this is a good idea.) Most camps also want the camper to check the blood sugars in the infirmary so they can record the results (Remember, they are medically legally responsible for your child). If you want to keep an additional meter in the child's bunk, you may want to arrange for it to be locked up. Children are curious, and you want to make sure no other child experiments with lancets or syringes (especially the used ones). If you leave a meter in the bunk, you probably should use one with foil wrapped strips to avoid contamination with high humidity in the summer.

I usually find that the blood testing and insulin administration are not major problems. The biggest problem is usually the food, especially getting snacks on time. Many camps don't allow food in the bunk. They usually will allow juice cartons. Regardless of the camp rules, I suggest that kids take individually wrapped, single portion size snacks to camp so that open boxes aren't left open to attract bugs. I also suggest that the child must agree to carry around something like a fanny pack with cake decorating gel andal cake decorating gel and juice be left at the waterfront, and of course make sure the infirmary has glucagon.

If your child is not ready to take on this responsibility at age eight, she might be ready in the future, especially if she first attends a camp for diabetic children.

Have a fun, safe summer!


Original posting 7 May 97


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