Diabetes and Healthcare at Camp


Food Allergies and Special Diets

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We can accommodate the following food allergies and special diets at DYF Programs. For all other dietary concerns, please call us before your session so that we can work with you to find other solutions.

Peanut Allergies Our kitchen does not knowingly use peanuts in snacks or meals prepared on site. We serve soy butter at all meals instead of peanut butter. While we do our best, we cannot guarantee that our facility is 100% free of peanut products. We ask that you help us maintain the lowest level of possible contamination by following our rule about not bringing additional food with you to camp; our kitchen will keep you well fed and our facility is safest for everyone when we control which products are on camp.

Other Nut Allergies We are able to provide substitute meals and snacks prepared without nuts for other nut allergies. While we minimize nuts on camp by not serving them alone, we do use nut products in our kitchen. We cannot guarantee that our facility will be entirely nut free.

Celiac Disease We are fortunate to have a separate celiac-only kitchen at Bearskin, and we work with the kitchens at our other camp locations to ensure they can provide safe gluten-free food. While we do our best, we are not able to guarantee a 100% gluten-free environment.

Vegetarian We will have vegetarian options at every meal.
We may be unable to accommodate the following. Please call us ahead of time so
that we can discuss with you and find other solutions.


Position Statement Regarding Value Judgment Placed on Blood Sugars

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One of the unnecessary burdens that most people with diabetes experience is the value judgments placed upon blood sugar values (i.e. high numbers are bad; low numbers are good). The possible results of these value judgments include:

  • Children and teens hide high numbers, falsify the numbers, or avoid testing all together in order to keep from being judged.
  • Children and teens identify themselves with their numbers (i.e. “I am a bad person when I have high numbers”).
  • Children and teens have secret lives unknown to their parents and physicians (i.e. hiding not only their numbers but eating when not observed).
  • Depression is more common in children, adolescents, and adults with diabetes.
  • Opportunities to learn how to adjust insulin for changes in eating patterns and exercise are missed.
  • Blood sugars tend to be higher than they otherwise could be.

At all DYF programs, our staff and volunteers attempt to approach blood sugars and carbohydrate counting in a neutral, non-judgmental manner. Some of the recommendations include:

  • Refrain from using judgmental language or actions when blood sugars are discussed (i.e. “your blood sugar is 450, how much insulin do you think you need?” Instead of “your blood sugar is 450!! What did you eat?”)
  • Do not react punitively when extra food is found in the camper’s possession but rather work with the camper to adjust insulin for extra food.
  • Recognize that it is impossible to have normal blood sugars all of the time once out of the honeymoon period.

— ABOVE ALL —
Blood sugar numbers are nothing more than data with which to make decisions regarding insulin adjustment.

Written by: Dr. Mary Simon, MD and Maureen McGrath, MS, PNP-BC, BC-ADM


A Letter from our Medical Director

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Dear Parents, Families, and Caregivers,

Diabetes is about much more than insulin dosing. Diabetes impacts blood sugar, but it also impacts our sense of safety and security, of normalcy and community. For those of you who are new to DYF and the Camp Magic, Welcome! Camp is a special place for kids impacted by type 1 diabetes. Whether you are brand new or have been coming for 15 years, we can’t wait to share it with you. The impact of living with diabetes goes far beyond blood sugars, and living well with.

So why is camp so unique and special? And how does camp further your child’s ability to manage diabetes?

First, camp is community. The positive relationships and sense of belonging are important feelings that many kids, especially those impacted by type 1 diabetes, have trouble finding elsewhere. At camp, kids realize that they are not alone in their struggles and frustrations with diabetes. Within the context of camp, children learn trust, safety, and teamwork as key elements to developing a bond with others. For many campers (and staff!), this sense of community sustains them throughout the year, and kids will remember and fall back on the caring environment they experienced at camp.

Camp builds resilience— this is the ability to successfully adapt to adversity or stress. This adversity is experienced at some point by everyone who is affected by diabetes, including siblings, parents and grandparents. Camp works to teach and encourage behaviors, thoughts, and actions that allow kids and their families to manage the challenges they are facing. We cannot eliminate the difficulty that comes from living with diabetes, but we can help kids and adults learn to successfully navigate those challenges.

Last, camp builds knowledge of diabetes. Even those campers who have been coming to camp for many years continue to learn new strategies and approaches to caring for their diabetes at camp. These can range from learning about insulin pumps, to trying out “mini gluc,” to being inspired to wear a CGM. While everyone’s experience and knowledge is different before coming to camp, it can always be expanded. Equally important, campers learn that challenge is a part of diabetes, and they learn tips and tricks from their peers about successfully navigating this.

As has been the case every summer since our founders Doc and Ellen began camp in 1938, there will be high and low blood sugars, there will be challenges, and homesickness, and worry. These aspects are as much a part of camp as the campfire and the hikes and the archery range; we see your kids thrive, and through these challenges, they will learn and grow.

While camp is a fun week away for your children, we hope it is also provides a break for you, their parents and caregivers who work around the clock serving as your child’s pancreas. You do such a tremendous job, and this is your time to recharge and to enjoy NOT worrying about carb counts, trend lines, and CGM alarms.

Your kids are in good hands.
Justin Altschuler, MD. Medical Director, DYF


Diabetes Care at Camp

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An Important Message About your Child’s Diabetes at Camp
Your child’s blood sugar levels may run lower or higher during their stay at camp than you may see at home. While they and their blood sugars are carefully monitored, variables such as altitude, new activities, new routine, length of stay, excitement, and so on, will affect your child’s blood sugar levels. Please know that camp works diligently to fine tune your child’s diabetes control during their stay, but it is not always possible to have the same level of control that they may have at home. To address any diabetes concerns prior to camp, please give us a call.

Diabetes Care at Independent Camps
Campers will be under the care of our highly qualified and trained staff. These staff include counselors and program staff (more than 70% have type 1 diabetes themselves), dieticians, certified diabetes educators, nurses, endocrinologists, and general practice physicians. Each group will consist of 8-14 campers, 2-5 counselors, and one nurse. At every meal and at nighttime snack, each camper meets one on one with their nurse to adjust insulin doses. The nurses report to the lead medical staff on duty, who then report to our Medical Director.

Diabetes Care at Family Camps
Family camps have a lead medical team consisting of 2-5 people. At a minimum, one of these persons is an endocrinologist and one is a general practice physician. We may also have additional medical staffing by nurses, psychologists, certified diabetes educators, and dieticians. Parents and campers can check in with a designated healthcare provider four times per day to discuss insulin doses; this process is called “Insulin Line.” This is also a great time for campers to watch other kids checking blood sugars, bolusing, and injecting insulin, which often encourages them to try out a new skill.

Each morning, parents spend time in diabetes education sessions while children rotate through camp activities with other children their age and counselors. Before your session begins, a parent education schedule will be available so that you know what will be taught and can decide which sessions you will want to attend.

Diabetes Benefits at All Programs
Aside from formal education, participants continually chat with staff and each other about living with type 1. Campers share tricks of the trade, experiences, and knowledge that enrich each other’s lives and they know that they are not alone. It is very common for a child with diabetes to have a “first” at camp such as giving their own shot, trying a new pump site, or counting their own carbs. We celebrate and encourage these “firsts” at all programs.