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Diabetics at summer camp

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My 14 year old son is anticipating his first summer camp as a newly diagnosed type 1 diabetic. I've searched the forums here for previous threads on diabetes and have found some good advice, but I'd also like to ask if anyone has experience with diabetic youth at summer camp. Any and all advice and perspectives will be most appreciated. Thanks!

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Trev,

 

We've talked offline about this since I'm a type 1 (insulin dependent) diabetic myself. I'm sure you've already thought of these things, but for the benefit of others who have not, I'll list a few things. Get him a braclet or necklace and/or ID card for his wallet that lets folks know he is diabetic. He should already be carrying a daypack with items like a first aid kit, water and rain gear. He needs to also carry a glucometer to test his blood sugar and have some sort of glucose to treat low blood sugar conditions. Don't let him carry chocolate or something that will melt. Wal-mart and other pharmacies carry the glucose tablets in either bottle or little containers or 10. Take plenty. He will probably be more active and hot than at home. Talk to the SM about allowing him to keep a sourse of glucose in the tent....unless you are in bear country. Food in tents are a no no, but my health trumps that rule. I'm not getting up in the middle of the night with my blood sugar low and fumbling around in the dark digging around in the food stores. If nothing else, store them in a 5 gallon bucket just outside the tent door. Make sure the health lodge is aware of his condition. If he is taking something like swimming merit badge, it would be smart to let those in charge know as well. Chances are that he will have no problems and have a blast. However, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Try not to restrict anything he wants to do. Just make sure he/you think thru the contingecies to allow him to do everything the other kids do.

 

Take twice what you think you will need of his supplies.

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I've spent the past two summer camps with my Type 1 diabetic son (diagnosed at age 4). The first summer camp, he was a new scout, 11 years old and not fully self managed. I went solely to support him, but the scouting bug bit me. The second year, I attend again but as an adult leader. I tried to leave my son to manage his own diabetes as much as I could. During that week, we both did the OA ordeal. That was a bit challenging as we couldn't speak to each other and the limited food was made insulin management tough. Needless to say we both made it although I didn't sleep at all the night of the ordeal. We plan on going to Northern Tiers this summer and Philmont next year. I'm confident as he matures, he will become very competent on his diabetes management. Until then I get to tag along.

 

The challenge is to give your son enough freedom to enjoy camp like the rest of the boys, but do so without risking him going into diabetic shock.

 

Now for your son's first summer camp as a diabetic. His patrol and all adult leadership should be aware of his condition and identify the signs of hypoglycemia. They should be asking him every hour or so how he feels. If he feels low or isn't "acting right", he should take a juice bag. Make sure you send plenty of juice bags. He must have one with him at all times. Get two blood sugar test kits. One should always be in his daypack, the other with an adult leader. He should test more frequently during the first few days to get a feel for how camp is affecting his diabetes (his numbers will be very low!). Glucagon also goes in this day pack and his day pack doesn't leave his side. A second glucagon kit should be in the scoutmasters pack. If he's a pumper, work with the medical staff to store backup infusion sets and keep the insulin refrigerated. Program an insulin scenario into the pump that drops the insulin by 50%, but check this with your doctor first. My son is a pumper and we have "ski mode" that he switches to during camp outs. Amazing how much sugar your body naturally uses up without insulin just camping.

 

If he injects, send twice as many syringes as he normally would use, half for him, half for the leaders/medics to stow. I took a handful of syringes just as a backup.

 

Being he is 14, this should be pretty easy for him, but since he's newly diagnosed, he has some adjustments to make to his new condition, especially if you aren't going.

 

We have decided that when we go to Northern Tiers this summer, we are leaving the pump and going back to syringes. We feel we have more options with that while in the wilderness. We also don't have to worry about getting the pump submerged.

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Thanks! You guys are great!

 

(And again, my thanks to Scouter Terry for creating these forums, where I can tap into such a wealth of experience and knowledge.)

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In my time as health officer at summer camp, I ran across my share of diabetics. In addition to the things already said, make sure that his diabetes is noted on his health form, along with any medications he might be taking. If his insulin needs to be kept cold, let the health officer know. He or she will probably have a refrigerator to store pharmaceuticals, and in some states (e.g. Wisconsin) law dictates that medications must be stored in the health office. I'd advise calling the camp to find out what the menu is, since adjustments may be needed. It;s been said before, but I can't stress enough how important it is to get him a medic-alert bracelet or necklace. I'd recommend against a wallet card, since most camp medics won't be looking there, especially if it's in a backpack. Feel free to contact me about this or other camp health issues.

 

peace always

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Good comment bluegoose.

I got to remember to replace my son's medic alert wrist tag. Seems he can't keep one for more than a few weeks.

 

I have found the medical staff very flexible and accommodating regarding diabetics. They also give a big sigh of relief when they find out I'm staying there with my son.

 

I guess the biggest advice I can give is start working with your son to read how he feels. But boys will be zipper-heads and ignore what their bodies are telling them. After 8 years of managing my son's condition, its almost a sixth sense to me to know when he needs attention. Too many sleepless nights to count.

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Gern,

 

Northern Tier? Wow, I'm impressed.....and envious!!! My 13 year old son is going with two crews from our troop this summer. I won't be along. I'm a pumper and a big guy at 6'2" and 275+. I can't put the boys or adults in a position of having to care for me or haul my big butt 30 miles out of the backwoods. I got to go as an ASM to Jambo last year. Since that involved flying, tour buses, living in a tent city with 40,000 scouts and having a first aid station about 100 yards from our camp, I didn't see much risk. I never miss a campout or summer camp. My diabetes has always been under great control over the past 31 years since I was diagnosed at 17. Your son is fortunate to have you there as backup. As an adult with no backup, I won't allow myself to risk high adventure trips out of concern for the adults and boys.....no matter how tempting it is. Have a great time. I concur with switching back to syringes on the trip.

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Good info!

 

I'm a recently (6 months ago) diagnosed Type II diabetic (on meds and diet theropy-Glucose averaging in the 80's down from 275-weight down to 160 from 225; most likely the main cause!)

 

Plan on watching the food at meals and having lots of water.

 

Any other ideas?

 

Least I don't have to worry about the insulin shots!

 

 

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Aardvark,

Your condition shouldn't be as much of a risk as a Type 1 diabetic. The risk of hypoglycimia is mininimal for a type 2 and hyperglycimia won't kill you in the sort term. One thing my son's condition has done for my entire family is made us all eat right. No weight issues here. No deserts or empty calories either. When you study diets and biological chemistry like a concerned parent will do, you really start understanding how important a balanced diet is.

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Gern, After reading the above posts, I realized my son really needs to wear a tag or wristband. He's been reluctant (not cool, dad!). Looking on eBay, I just found those same wristbands yersterday. However, I think what I might do is make a custom black leather wristband with some studs. He plays heavymetal guitar and I think that style might satisfy both of us!

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Trev,

I've seriously thought of taking my son down to the tattoo parlor and having it put on his left wrist. Since there is little hope of a cure, he would always have the alert at least and be one of the first kids in his class to get some color.

 

My concern with a non-traditional alert, is that emergency response teams may not recognize it. That concerns me with the rubber wrist band to, but something is better than nothing. Just make sure he wears it on his left wrist.

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Hello all.

 

Lots of very good ideas here. I have to caution about the use of the rubber wrist band. While something is always better than nothing, so many people wear these bands. As an emergency responder (full time EMT for 5 years) I normally wouldn't think twice about a rubber wrist band. I guess now that I know these are out there I will try to remember to check them, but it seems everyone is wearing them these days.

 

Tim

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I've worn the medic alert necklace for years. If boys don't want to wear a bracelet, the necklace is a good alternative. It will be under their shirt where it won't be noticed except by folks who know to look for it in an emergency.

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