DCamp Part 6 | The People

I’ve had difficulty organizing my thoughts for this post, the last in my DCamp series. I don’t think I can properly articulate the power the people of DCamp have. They are nothing short of magical.

All the people who work at the Clara Barton Center and Camp Joslin are special. They LOVE being there and it shows. Many of them attended DCamp as children. Some don’t live with diabetes themselves. But all, adults and teens alike, are of a very high caliber – they know how to have fun, but they also know when to be serious. They are an impressive crew.

I’ve chosen to focus on one counselor, however. I’ll call him Mr. D (only because his name starts with D).

I didn’t notice him at first. He wasn’t a counselor in our cabin and I don’t think we ever came in direct contact with him, but he’s one of the first people that pop into my mind when I think of DCamp.

He is vivacious.

He is passionate.

He is responsible.

He is caring.

In him, I see Caleb. I think that’s why he made such an impression on me. He wore a bandana on his head with a bow tied on the top. He was often the loudest singer. I have memories of him running around the dining hall during meals, inspiring smiles and excitement.

This is the Caleb that I know. He doesn’t show this side of himself to those outside his family. But it’s the boy that lives in my home. The vivacious, life of the party, at times pushing-the-envelope-inappropriate Caleb. You can’t help but laugh at him and with him (even when you know you shouldn’t).

It made me teary, and oddly proud to think that Caleb could some day be doing great things like these counselors do.

But there’s more to it than that.

I won’t forget the days-old tattoo that read “Camp Joslin Forever” on Mr. D’s arm. Remember? I said he was passionate.

And I will definitely not forget the story that Mr. D shared with us. One night, some of the counselors living with diabetes held a session for parents only. I think they knew very well the impact they would have on us. They knew we would soak up their words like sponges. They made themselves available selflessly, for our, and thereby our children’s, benefit.

Mr. D spoke about always being the person primarily responsible for his diabetes. I think he said he was diagnosed in his pre-teens. His parents had left his care almost entirely up to him. He doesn’t fault them for that, nor did he present it in any way other than they thought they were doing what was best for him.

It’s a difficult balance – to allow your child age appropriate responsibility without giving them too much.

Mr. D explained that although he was in charge of his diabetes, he wasn’t taking care of it. He was letting himself hover in the 300s without concern. His parents didn’t know.

Then he told us about a serious seizure he had at a friend’s house during a sleepover. He described it as his wake-up call. After that, with the help and guidance of his friends at Camp Joslin, he started managing his diabetes well. He spoke about how much better he felt. That he didn’t even realize he had been feeling badly before because he didn’t know what it felt like to feel good. He proudly announced the A1C results he has maintained since that pivotal event. We were proud right along with him.

He wished that his parents had been more involved.

On this point the panel was unanimous:

They want to be in charge of their diabetes, but they don’t want to be alone. They want to know their parents care, but they don’t want to be judged or lectured. They want their diabetes to be theirs, but they want input and gentle guidance when they need it.

I think they called it “supervised autonomy”. Let diabetes be theirs, but don’t leave them alone to manage it all by themselves.

It’s hard to explain and possibly harder to execute.

They spoke about having weekly or daily meetings to review things. Parents and teen/young adult collaborating; providing time together to allow for discussion and troubleshooting.

Without judgment or consequences.

I had heard this before. My friend, Melinda, shared a similar story with me. This is how she worked things with her son, Michael. Melinda and Michael are an inspiration and I think of their example often. In fact, Melinda is the reason we went to family camp in the first place. Her high praise made it a “must do” experience.

I am so thankful to the people who make DCamp what it is. The facilities, activities and songs are great, but at the end of the day it’s the people that matter. If a permanent 6” by 8” tattoo on a young man’s upper arm doesn’t portray the impact that DCamp has on people living with diabetes, what does?

You can read the rest of my DCamp series posts here.

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In Pictures, of Caleb | #dblogweek

I’m stretching the “Saturday Snapshots” prompt by posting a video. This is largely because this event is a very close second to meeting Nick on the list of awesome things for Caleb. He cannot help but smile and burst into song (DCamp chant song) at the mention of DCamp. It was an amazing experience and this is one of his proudest moments:

DCamp Part 5 | The Highlight – Video

Spider Monkey Colin

The zip line.

Colin and I both did it. Colin went first. In true spider monkey fashion, he climbed that tree lickety split. Then with a huge smile on his face and without hesitation he zipped.

I followed. All I could think as I climbed that tree was that if Colin could do this, then I had to do it. I couldn’t imagine how Colin did it though. The staples in the tree were so far apart that I, with my 33 inch inseam legs, genuinely struggled. It was also a heck of a lot more exhausting than I expected. Colin made it look easy. I found it a challenge. Not a terrible challenge, but compared to what I saw Colin do, I was surprised I wasn’t able to fly up the tree similarly.

We came back later in the day with Caleb, but because of weather (I think that’s the reason) they changed it to walking across a wire from tree to tree. Caleb was a little disappointed and maybe even a little unsettled at the last-minute switcheroo, but he was still willing.

I should mention that this event is typically reserved for kids older than Colin, but they make an exception for family camp.

After doing it myself, I was worried for Caleb. His legs are even shorter than Colin’s and I didn’t know how he was going to handle this. I worried that he would get frustrated and give up. I wouldn’t blame him either. He has never done anything even remotely close to this before.

Even when given the chance to quit early, and even after saying he was done, he kept going. He did the whole thing. This was SO much harder than the zip line. All you needed to do for that was shimmy your bum off the board after you climbed to the platform. Once you’re up there, it’s the simplest way down, so it’s really pretty easy. What Caleb did took much more determination and perseverance.

There are many things that my children do that make me proud. This one will forever hold a special place in my heart. I know how hard it was and it would have been so easy for Caleb to say it was just too much and to back out at any point. But he didn’t. It’s not only to his credit, but also the supportive, patient camp counselors and all the other campers rooting him on.

Hands down, this was the highlight of the trip for me. I think it’s pretty high up there for Caleb too.

Related posts:

DCamp Part 1 | The Trip That Almost Wasn’t

DCamp Part 2 | Opening Day of Family Camp

DCamp Part 3 | Diabetes Camp Family Style

DCamp Part 4 | Photo Montage

Up next, the final DCamp installment – The People that Make DCamp What It Is

DCamp Part 4 | Photo Montage – The Barton Center

 

Post banana-sling in the Banana Olympics (paramedics to heal the banana wounds)
Prepping for special Banana Olympics version of Gah-Gah
Spontaneous after hours dance in the dining hall
Prepping for the parent pageant - Dave in a dress!
Much more manly - crossing over easily on the first try (me - not so much)
Taking a very rare rest
Inside the boys' dining hall - Camp Joslin
More archery
Making fortune tellers - my kids can do this for hours!
Working on fortune tellers at Rainbow Ridge
Arts and crafts
Holding hands with new friend
No hands lunch
Pickle!
So, so tired - dressed up for the dance, but didn't really make it for long
Walking to the dining hall after BGMs and insulins ("99" was Caleb's number choice and is a #bgnow reference)
Braiding hair waiting for the dining hall bell to ring
Gathering for last day ceremonies
Saying good-byes
Teaser for the Highlight video coming next week...

Related posts:

DCamp Part 1 | The Trip That Almost Wasn’t

DCamp Part 2 | Opening Day of Family Camp

DCamp Part 3 | Diabetes Camp Family Style

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

DCamp Part 1 | The trip that almost wasn’t

During the most hectic summer ever, following an extraordinarily busy week, we were packed and ready to set off for our long awaited trip to the Clara Barton Center for family camp.

Have you heard anyone say they didn’t absolutely love their experience at diabetes camp? I haven’t. The reviews I’ve heard are consistently rave.

We tied up some final details that morning, including fueling up the truck.

Dave called me from the gas station. The truck was not drivable. He turned the wheel to pull out of the station and “POP”, the power steering was done for.

It was a Sunday. Getting the truck fixed pronto was not an option.

We have two vehicles. Mine is “the truck”. Dave’s is a teeny, sporty sedan.

Truck towed, David back home and we’re looking at all the things we need to take and the car. Big pile of stuff including pillows, sleeping bags and necessities for 5 people. Little car. We can barely get the three kids to fit in the back seat. There was no way our big pile of stuff was going to fit in the trunk that fits little other than Dave’s baseball bag. I walked inside the house leaving Dave there contemplating out of sheer desperation.

Do we miss the first night and see if we can get the truck fixed in the morning?

Do we wait and rent a vehicle first thing in the morning?

Do we drive to an airport and rent a vehicle today?

My dad knows automobiles. When this happened I called him to get a sense of whether there was any hope that we could diagnose the problem with the truck and fix it ourselves. He validated the chances were slim to none. Immediately he offered to bring his pickup truck over for us to use. To both David and I, that seemed like too big an offer to accept and we were determined to figure this out ourselves.

Boarding the truck about to depart

When I saw the big pile and the little car, I knew the only way we were going to get to the Clara Barton Center for opening ceremonies, which I felt were too important to miss, was to take my parents up on their offer. I looked at David and said, “If Colin calls you in 15 years in the same situation that we’re in, what would you do?”

Enough said. We accepted the offer and my parents were on their way. Not only offering their truck to us, but driving over in two vehicles which means my mom was driving, and driving on the highway, and lets just say driving is not her favorite thing.

Thanks Mom and Dad. And really big thanks, Mom.

Within no time we were packed and ready to go. To the kids, taking the trip in Grandpa’s truck was a nifty adventure. I was just happy to be back on track. Dave was cursing German car makers.

That is how our trip began.  We arrived safely and happily at the Clara Barton Center within a couple of hours.

Just arrived at the Clara Barton Center for family camp

Not to give away any ending or anything, but we got through all the hard stuff before we even left. The rest of the trip went off without a hitch.

To be continued…