If your child uses an insulin pump, make sure you send a back-up pump (if you have one), supplies for insulin injections, and both short-acting and long-acting insulin. If your camper is not completely independent in all aspects of pump use and programming, sending him to traditional camp is probably not a good idea. A diabetes camp would be a better choice.
Meals and snacks. Get the camp’s menu ahead of time, as well as the times meals and snacks will be served. Ask if there are frequent last-minute changes to the menu and if meals are usually on time. This can be a problem at traditional camps. Insist that your camper have easy access to food. Usually camps have a “no food in cabins” rule; if so, this rule must be relaxed for your camper. Because of the high activity level at camp, it’s very important that your camper have an evening snack, and it’s likely he’ll need a larger snack than he usually eats at home.
Go over the menu with your camper and make sure that for each meal there is something he will eat. If not, arrange a substitute. The camp may allow foods from home. Campers may have access to vending machines, or they may be able to buy treats at the canteen. Prepare your camper to make the right decisions about when to eat such treats and how much to have.
Diabetes supplies. Make a list of all the supplies your camper would possibly need for the duration of his camp stay and double it. This is true even for insulin vials, which can easily break. If your camper uses a pump, pack twice the amount of set changes you expect him to need. Don’t forget extra food, glucose tablets, and other treatments for low blood glucose.
Now, just relax
For many parents, camp time is a great opportunity to take a break from the responsibility of diabetes care. Just remember that Boy Scout motto: “Be prepared.” If all the bases are covered, your camper can have a safe and enjoyable experience — and you can relax and enjoy your freedom, too. Whether you choose a camp specializing in caring for children with diabetes or a traditional camp program, good planning and preparation will ensure that your child returns home healthy and filled with memories that will last a lifetime.