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.
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.
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.
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.