Camp Diabetes is the Queensland Health Camping Programme designed to meet the needs of children and adolescents with Type 1 Diabetes as well as their parents and carers.
Camp Diabetes was established in 2002 by Diabetes Educators Christine Sheehan and Julie Pearson and the inaugural week long camp held at Alexandra Headlands with 45 children aged 9 – 12 years from all over Queensland was a roaring success.
Camp Diabetes has now grown to a minimum of 6 camp each year.
Chris Sheehan and Julie Pearson were recently awarded an international global award for their work establishing Camp Diabetes. Both Chris and Julie and their partners were flown to San Diego to accept the award and attended the American Diabetes Association symposium (an amazing experience). The Lilly Partnerships in Diabetes award is global excellence award, with an international judging panel and only five winners world wide. It was an honour to be considered, let alone win, such a prestigious award for Australia and Queensland Health.
It is hoped that Camp Diabetes will continue for many, many years yet and that the benefits of the camping programme for these children will result in happy, psychologically well adjusted young adults. Perhaps the best feedback received about the camp was from one of the children who told us “I hope they never find a cure for Diabetes, because that will mean there will not be any more camps!”
Camp Diabetes is about having fun while making a real difference to children and adolescents living with Type 1 diabetes.
While camp provides a wonderful opportunity for health professionals to see Type 1 Diabetes in action, it cannot be underestimated the positive effect for the parents of children aged 9 – 18 years who are given ‘time out’ from the 24 hours a day routine of diabetes and for parents of children aged 8 and under, who are given the opportunity to meet and share their experience of Diabetes with other parents.
It is surprising how many children have never met another child with Diabetes and the young campers are often amazed when they arrive at camp to find that the majority of people, including staff also have diabetes.
The benefit of positive peer pressure cannot be underestimated and many children (in the 9 – 12 camps) will learn to do their own blood glucose testing and draw up and give their own insulin injections for the very first time under the watchful eye of their diabetes educator and support of other campers.
Beyond the Camps
Children attending the camps are encouraged to come back to work at camp as staff members and there is a very long list of campers waiting until they are old enough (15 years) to enjoy this honour.