Please note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, camp availability may vary.
Campfires, laughing with new friends, catching fireflies on warm summer nights, and lake swimming might evoke fond memories of summer camp for some adults. Does the magic of a summer camp experience really have to end with childhood? More options are now available than ever for adults who want to revisit the beloved summer camp getaway or perhaps experience it for the first time. Whether you are looking to connect with other individuals living with diabetes or simply looking for a wellness retreat, you have many options.
But before booking your trip and packing your bags, you might consider a few things to make the most of your experience.
What kind of experience are you seeking?
The first consideration is to identify the kind of trip you would enjoy. Are you seeking to:
• expand your diabetes knowledge?
• connect with other individuals looking to improve diabetes management and their health?
• improve your fitness?
• relax and minimize stress?
Some camps and retreats include educational lectures in which attendees can learn new skills, while other camps focus more on offering activities and experiences. There may be a combination of these activities. Identifying the most important features ensures you will achieve the type of vacation you are seeking.
What is type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. As a result, the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Type 1 diabetes is also characterized by the presence of certain autoantibodies against insulin or other components of the insulin-producing system such as glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), tyrosine phosphatase, and/or islet cells.
When the body does not have enough insulin to use the glucose that is in the bloodstream for fuel, it begins breaking down fat reserves for energy. However, the breakdown of fat creates acidic by-products called ketones, which accumulate in the blood. If enough ketones accumulate in the blood, they can cause a potentially life-threatening chemical imbalance known as ketoacidosis.
Type 1 diabetes often develops in children, although it can occur at any age. Symptoms include unusual thirst, a need to urinate frequently, unexplained weight loss, blurry vision, and a feeling of being tired constantly. Such symptoms tend to be acute.
Diabetes is diagnosed in one of three ways – a fasting plasma glucose test, an oral glucose tolerance test, or a random plasma glucose test – all of which involve drawing blood to measure the amount of glucose in it.
Are medical professionals involved and/or available?
If you are specifically looking for information to hone diabetes self-management skills, improve culinary skills and diet or enhance fitness skills, it is important to look for programs supported by credentialed health-care providers (either serving as board members or involved in supporting the program).
Having a licensed medical professional on staff is especially important if the experience involves more intense physical activity than your typical routine and/or significant dietary modifications. These factors can affect blood glucose management and in some cases may even require dose adjustments for medications. Generally, involvement by licensed health-care professionals may help ensure that programs are meeting standards of care for individuals living with diabetes. It also may be beneficial to discuss travel and getaway plans with your regular health-care provider or diabetes educator to receive guidance about traveling with medications and changes in physical activity and/or diet.
How many vacation days do you want to use?
If you are trying to find time for yourself without burning through your paid time off, camp and retreat experiences for adults are offered in varying lengths of time. While childhood often offers summers off, the reality is that many adults are juggling careers and family responsibilities. Along with weeklong experiences, many places are offering weekend retreats that are time and budget friendly.
Whether you choose a weekend away or a full two-week adventure, a retreat can be an important component of self-care. Learning new skills, connecting with others, and spending time in nature can be fantastic ways to refresh and perhaps even jump-start new routines to improve diabetes management.
Adult summer camps and retreats
Check out these options for camps and retreats — each designed just for adults looking to connect with other individuals living with diabetes or simply looking for a health and wellness experience geared toward improving diabetes management.
Located in beautiful Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the Diabetes Training Camp is a multi-sports training camp. They offer a weeklong camp experience for individuals with diabetes who are either interested in improving their general fitness or in improving their competitive edge for marathons, triathlons or anything in between. Professional coaching staff is available along with medical staff. Workshops and seminars are included along with fitness training to enhance diabetes self-management skills. Staff includes medical professionals, registered dietitians and certified diabetes care and education specialists. Program fees are subsidized by the Diabetes Training Camp Foundation. However, scholarships are available for those in financial need.
Designed for individuals with type 1 diabetes, the Canadian-based Connected in Motion program works to build and support communities of active and well-informed adults who are engaged in their diabetes self-management. The program does this by offering amazing adventures and experiences to connect individuals and provide a unique format for learning. Events include day, weekend and even 10-day experiences. Choose from a range of options from canoeing, white-water rafting and hiking.
Established in 1958, Camp Nejeda located in Stillwater, New Jersey, provides all kinds of programming for individuals living with type 1 diabetes. In addition to their eight-week sleep-away camp for children with type 1 diabetes, the camp offers a weekend boot camp for adults over the age of 21 with type 1. The boot camp provides camp goers a balance of relaxation, fun, connectionm and education. Zip lining, boating and massages are just a few activities that are available between informative and interactive lectures on diabetes self-management.