Diabetes and Your Family and Friends: Checklist for Summer Diabetes Camps
Summer diabetes camps for children are good places for kids to get a camp experience in a safe environment. It can also be beneficial for kids to be around others with the same condition. They don’t feel singled out, as they may during the school year. Additionally, summer diabetes camps are excellent places for children to learn self-management skills.
The goal of any diabetes camp should be to balance insulin dosage with activity level and food intake so that blood sugar levels stay within the safe range. If you’re thinking about sending your child to one of these camps this summer, here are some things you’ll want to look for and to know about in advance.
Records you’ll Need to Provide
Almost all kinds of summer camps require medical records of their campers. Additional records you’ll need to provide include:
- Your child’s home insulin dosage, including number and timing of injections and type of insulin used.
- Records for insulin doses and blood sugar levels for the week just before camp begins.
- Prior diabetes-related illnesses and hospitalizations.
- Previous glycated hemoglobin levels.
- Psychological issues.
Records the Camp Should Keep
It’s important that the camp keep a detailed record of your child’s progress, so make sure that it’s routine for camp staff to track daily blood glucose levels and insulin dosages. It’s also a good idea for the staff to track your child’s activity level and food intake. This information can tell you a lot about how exercise and diet influence your child’s insulin needs.
Additional Camp Requirements
Qualified medical staff. The person in charge of the medical staff should have expertise in managing type1 diabetes. Nursing staff should include diabetes educators and diabetes clinical nurse specialists. Additionally, registered dietitians who have expertise in diabetes should take part in menu creation and in the educational component of the camp.
Staff familiarity with requirements for insulin pumps. More and more children are managing their diabetes with insulin infusion pumps now. The medical director and other staff members of all diabetes camps should be familiar with:
- Programming of insulin pumps
- Replacement of insulin infusion catheters
- Adjustment of insulin dose using continuous infusion therapy
- The camp medical staff should also make sure to keep pump supplies, including batteries, on hand at all times.
Emphasis on teaching self-care. Camp is a great place for children to learn how to care for their condition. Information should be age-appropriate, and include topics such as:
- Insulin injection techniques
- Blood glucose monitoring
- Adjustment of insulin based on activity level and food intake
- Importance of diabetes control
- Complications of diabetes
- Learning to recognize symptoms of hypo/hyperglycemia
A formal relationship with a nearby medical facility. This is crucial in case of medical emergencies.
Source: Diabetes Care. American Diabetes Association: Clinical Practice Recommendations 2000; Volume 23, Supplement 1.