DCamp Part 3 | Diabetes Camp Family Style

This really just sums it all up

I have yet to write fully about our trip to the Clara Barton Center last August because I know I cannot do it justice. Despite my dislike of the concept of camping, I would not hesitate to go again. But for the fact that we are going to the Friends for Life Conference in July, we would be headed back this August. I foresee a trip in 2012.

We have wonderful memories of our time there. As I look back at everything we did, it’s hard to believe it was only four days long.

It started with the initial ice-breaker where we played Duck, Duck Barton and sang “one and twenty, two and twenty, three and four and five and six and twenty…”

We learned lots of fun camp songs like Go Bananas, The Donut Song, Yogi Yogi Bear and I Want to Be Friendly. We continue to sing them even seven months later.

First night campfire (note the backpack of D supplies on the counselor next to Colin)

We played lots of crazy camp games like Tails, Toilet Tag and the ever blood glucose reducing activity of Gah-Gah – as effective as any insulin on the market, with a faster onset. Colin absolutely loved playing Tails because speed was everything in this game and that boy is fast. Colin and Caleb brought the game of Gah-Gah home with them. We now have a volleyball renamed the Gah-Gah ball. If you’re wondering, you play in a spacious, enclosed area (typically blocked by turned over benches) and can only hit the ball with your hands. You try to get the other players out by hitting their legs or feet with the ball. So simple, right? I’m not kidding about its effect on blood sugar. It’s right up there with swimming.

The dining hall experience may have created my fondest memories. It’s not a quiet place. You dine among an almost constant stream of camp chants. Meals were themed – Pig Tail Lunch, Sunglasses/Hat Dinner, Be a Winner – Rhyme at Dinner, Singing Breakfast (although I can’t recall a meal that did not involve singing) and No Hands Lunch. “Bum-Bum-Bah-Dah” is by far my favorite table-slapping, dining hall song.

I simply can no longer compliment my kids with a “Good job”, without completing it with the quick-paced mantra of “good-job, good-job, good, good, good – HUH!”. Not possible.

It was a little unsettling in the beginning. It’s an immersion into a world of silly. But we all acclimated, got our bearings and joined in.

Underlying all the silliness is well-planned structure.

Caleb's Second Favorite Activity at Camp

There are scheduled blood sugar checks otherwise known as “BGMs and insulins” often done back in the cabin while preparing for meals. Chores are shared and everyone pitches in. There is a protocol for dealing with blood sugars outside of the scheduled “BGMs”. Each counselor has a backpack at all times which contains meters, lancets and fast acting carbs. Nightly protocols include multiple bg checks until it is deemed okay to reduce it to the mandatory once a night. Each cabin is connected to home base via a speaker/walkie talkie system and there are nightly check-ins and codes for potential emergencies.

The staff are almost exclusively teens to young adults. I was very impressed by the caliber of each and every one of them. They knew how to have fun and also knew when to be serious.

There is a daily, ceremonial flag raising, one of many camp-style graces before each meal and, of course, a jam-packed schedule of activities. It’s impossible to get bored.

At Camp Joslin (the brother camp to CBC) enjoying the lake

We had a campfire, went canoeing, swam, hiked, visited a horse farm, did archery, partook in a taste-testing of unique foods, played baseball and did arts and crafts. There was a comedic parent pageant where the parents got dressed up with props chosen by the kids and performed their varied talents. On the final night, the kids had a barbecue while the parents were treated to a candlelight dinner in the dining hall. We were reunited afterward at a rockin’ dance party.

There were also informational sessions for the parents like: Nutrition, Taking Time for You, and Living Socially with Diabetes  During one of these breakout sessions, the non-D sibs came together to look at, try on (without insertion) and talk about diabetes tools like meters and pumps. The D kids met separately and wrote “Dear Diabetes” letters. Caleb told diabetes he wanted to take a magic pill and be cured of it.

It was the first camp experience for my children and they all LOVED it. A five star hotel has nothing on Camp Barton. Although I look forward to our next trip to the Clara Barton Center, that hotel room in Boston where we extended our trip was a happy site for this momma after 4 days of cabin life.

Up next – DCamp Photo Montage, The Absolute Highlight of DCamp Video and The People that Make DCamp What It Is.

Related posts:

DCamp Part 1 | The Trip That Almost Wasn’t

DCamp Part 2 | Opening Day of Family Camp

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17 Replies to “DCamp Part 3 | Diabetes Camp Family Style”

  1. I LOVE that you LOVED camp! I knew you would. I always say that our experience at Bearskin Meadows camp 6 weeks after Michael was diagnosed was the keystone in all of our subsequent diabetes management. One of the best things we learned there was “Let him be a kid first and a diabetic second”. Camp gave him his healthy perspective that he has now taken on to college. Here’s to all diabetes camps!!

    1. I owe it ALL to you Melinda. I don’t know if we would have ever gone without your endorsement and encouragement. THANK YOU!!!!

  2. *sigh* so jealous…I wish I could take my whole fam to d-camp…guess I’ll just tag along with you next year 😛
    I actually REALLY wish I could go to FL this year. That just seems like an amazing d-monster-meet up and Disney World? *sigh* One day! I WILL make it there!

  3. This sounds amazing!! I have yet to find a family camp here and I am not ready for J to go alone.

    So you say they schedule bg checks at night and day? But youre there, so is that more to show what it would be like if you werent present?

    So awesome. Cant wait to see pics!! Love that silly face.

    This comment will self destruct in 5 seconds.

    😉

  4. Well, first off I love hearing about the camp through your eyes and seeing the photos of the children. I would like some video footage of you doing the “Bumh-Bumh-dah-dah” slap dance while eating lunch in the dining hall – LOL. I have started talking to Joe about “D” camps…he doesn’t seem to interested yet… he actually doesn’t seem that interested in others with “D” at all. Not sure what to make of it and/or if it is real or an avoidance tactic?

  5. We love family camp here too. We go to Camp Nejeda here in New Jersey. I did send G alone last year and he was the youngest you could be, he actually turned 7 at camp, and I think that was a mistake. He does not want to go this year as he said last year was too long away from me. I feel bad he doesn’t want to go, but I would never make him go. I hope he changes his mind and decides to go. I would request to do family camp if he wants, but we have already done it twice and they like to let new families experience it first. He has about 1 more month to make up his mind.

  6. I wish we had something like that here. You’re not kidding about gah-gah. My kids play that at day camp, and unless he boosts beforehand, Jack will go low. But all three love the game!

  7. we went to a family camp here and it was pretty awesome, too…not quite as fun filled as yours sounds, but great. For us another wonderful aspect was for TJ, the hubby, to meet a few other fathers with t1d whom had children with t1d. These were conversations that I couldn’t ever imagine him having at had such great impact on him that I will forever be thankful for.
    Thanks for sharing your experience – I can’t wait for the chance to do d camp again with our crew 🙂

  8. Hi! I’m a three year Barton-goer and I’m so glad that you loved the experience! I’ve gone to barton for three years and in fact my session begins in 15 days!:) I absolutely LOVE CBC. I’m so happy that you took the best from Barton and I hope that you will keep it in mind during the rest of our days with diabetes (hopefully not a lot longer):) I sincerely reccomend that you send your son to Camp Joslin (the brother camp). He’ll find everything that you send he loved and more! Even if it’s just a mini camp, it’s a great experience to take place in with mom and dad.

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