Last year, 85% of campers attended programs at a subsidized rate, thanks to your support. YOU MAKE CAMP POSSIBLE!
Camp is more than just 5 days of fun…
Breanne was diagnosed with T1D at the age of 4. “Fortunately, my family was referred to DYF. Camp was where we learned to function as a family, where my parents learned how to manage my diabetes while allowing me to be a kid first. Ultimately, because of camp, I was able to do everything that I wanted to do in life and I don’t think my family would have been able to let me do that if we hadn’t gone to camp for all those years.”
Breanne returned to camp as a counselor during college. There, she met her future husband, Scott, fellow T1D and camp lover. The community they built that first summer remains to this day. “Most of the people I became friends with at camp are still in our lives. They came to our wedding, baby showers, and stayed by our side as we started navigating diabetes as parents.”
The family welcomed two children, Finnian and Adelaide. Though Breanne and Scott each successfully navigate diabetes in their own lives, nothing could prepare them for Finnian’s diagnosis at the age of 3. “We knew we had to go back to camp.”
Scott and Finnian spent a week at Family Camp last summer and when they returned, Breanne knew they made the right choice. “The difference between when the two of them left our driveway and when they came back was incredible. They bonded over camp and they developed a way of doing things without me that was amazing.”
…it shapes lives…
Meet Naomi, a recent DYF graduate who attended camp every summer since 8th grade. Naomi was diagnosed with type 1 when she was 6 years old, just months after her family emigrated to the US from East Africa. Her mother didn’t speak English and her family didn’t know the first thing about diabetes.
Management became difficult. She was the only kid at school with T1D and she stopped caring for herself at school because she didn’t want to be labeled “different.”
Then Naomi found camp. “It was the most magical thing ever. It was my first time seeing other people with diabetes. I couldn’t believe it. I was like ‘Are you diabetic? Are you diabetic?’ There was a sea of kids all around me and thought, ‘Whoa, they all have T1D!’ It was the biggest most mind-blowing thing I’ve ever seen.”
“Camp was life-changing. It was my first time I actually accepted myself with diabetes. People say that at camp you find family, and they are 100% right. I found family; my diabesties. We talk every day, check in with one another, hold each other accountable. Because you’re not just making a connection at camp; you’re shaping the rest of your life.”
…instills healthy habits…
Diabetes is difficult for any parent to manage, even those who work as healthcare professionals. Michelle and Jess learned this firsthand when their son Zyan was 3 years old. “It was traumatic,” shared Michelle, who works as a nurse, “I didn’t know anybody with type 1.”
Things changed when Michelle and Jess brought Zyan to Family Camp the summer after his diagnosis. “That first year we went to camp we were nervous. But now when we go, we don’t have to worry! Jess and I get a break. Hours go by where I’m not constantly thinking ‘Is he ok? Should I go check on him?’ which is HUGE. We never can do that at home.”
“Zyan is more confident because of camp. He gets to do fun activities that he wouldn’t do at home and he’s willing to try new things with his diabetes care. He used to only wear his pump and CGM on his bottom, but when he saw another little kid with it on his arm he said, ‘Lets try it there next time!’”
Like so many parents in the same situation, Jess left her job to care for Zyan full time. Michelle has continued to work as a nurse. “Diabetes is really expensive,” shared Michelle. “Even though I have employer health insurance, it’s not enough. It still costs more than we can afford to meet his needs; the test strips, the insulin, the pump. And yet, I would never consider not taking him to camp.”
“Camp is the one place that will help him form healthy habits to become a healthy adult. Where he learns to take care of himself and builds friendships with other kids in his situation. I really couldn’t imagine life without camp. It is so important for Zyan to have a community and for him to know he’s not alone. That’s what it was at the beginning, ‘Why do I have T1D? Why don’t you have it? Why do I have to be the one?’ Since going to camp, he doesn’t say that anymore. Because he’s not the only one. Scholarships make this all possible.”
…and shows children that they are not alone!
Morgan was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 13 years old. Like so many others in her situation, Morgan grew ill for no apparent reason. She was in DKA and was rushed to a facility far from home. After much stress, confusion, and a few days of insulin, Morgan began to regain her strength. Her journey with diabetes continued down a rocky path.
Morgan had a hard time with kids at school understanding her struggle with diabetes. She longed for connection with others who could understand life with diabetes. Then, Morgan learned about DYF. “Before I went to camp I was really nervous. But I loved it so much more than I ever thought I could. I set an alarm on my phone to go off for BMC 2019 as soon as I got home!”
“No one in my immediate family has type 1. So when I was diagnosed I didn’t have anyone who could show me how to deal. I put up a wall. Everyone else was “normal” but me and I didn’t know how to relate to normal life. But then I went to camp and I was like, ‘Whoa, there’s a lot of people with type 1!’”
At camp, Morgan found her community and she found her voice. “Over the week I found people I could talk to. I made friends with diabetes. I learned to advocate for myself. After camp, I felt confident going to my teachers and telling them my blood sugar is out of range today and I’m having issues comprehending. They taught me to go easier on myself and to try new things. Now I have a Dexcom, which I never would have gotten before camp!”
Morgan is hoping she receives another scholarship to attend camp this summer so she can learn more about type 1 to help herself and fellow T1D’s she might meet in the future. She wants to see the friends she met last year, and make new friends too. “Diabetes can be lonely. I want to expand my web of type 1 friends so that I can help show others that they aren’t alone.”