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story.lead_photo.caption Children attending Camp Aldersgate's diabetes camp enjoy a boat race in 2014. (Democrat-Gazette file photo)

Hello Muddah, hello Fadduh,

Here I am at Camp Grenada

Camp is very entertaining

and they say we'll have some fun if it stops raining. ...

— Allan Sherman

Way back in 1988 I taught a preschool age class at a day care. It was not my calling. It was challenging, and dealing with a group of children all at one time tried my patience beyond belief. But I do have a few fond memories.

I remember one boy who was probably 4 or 5 years old. He was diabetic and whenever a fellow student had a birthday and the parent would bring a sweet, celebratory treat, he would be left out. I felt bad for him because most of the parents probably didn't know he was diabetic, and it never dawned on them to supply a snack that he could safely have.

I once saw him sadly reach for a stick of gum the teacher offered as his classmates had cupcakes. It was heartbreaking.

I can only imagine how many children face this type of issue. It's not that the other parents or the school don't care. I think it's that many people just don't really understand or know the ins and outs of diabetes, much less diabetic children.

When I was 14, I volunteered at Camp Aldersgate during one of its medical camps. It was an experience I won't forget. The fact that the week was geared toward children with a specific disease meant that there were protocols and rules in place that helped make the campers feel like normal kids.

With that in mind, I did some searching online for information about summer camps for diabetic children.

According to information on its website, diabetes.org, the American Diabetes Association has hosted summer camps for children and teens ages 4-17 with Type 1 diabetes since 1949.

The camps allow children to build friendships and participate in summer activities, while they develop the critical skills to manage their diabetes.

More than 2,000 health care professionals volunteer as medical staff at diabetic camps across the country, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dietitians, social workers and certified diabetes instructors. Medical volunteers teach campers how to check blood glucose, count carbohydrates, independently administer insulin and develop a better understanding of diabetes care.

Campers can also learn to embrace the advancing technology available to manage diabetes. Many are using an insulin pump or a continuous glucose monitoring system. With that in mind, the association got more than 40 experts together to develop tools, tip sheets and training resources to help camps stay on top of things that will benefit the campers and their families.

The camp programs also include Project Power for children at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Corporate and foundation partners help provide medication, supplies, educational materials and financial assistance.

Camp Aldersgate was formally dedicated in 1947 for use as a place for interracial fellowship, meetings and Christian training. The first medical camps at Aldersgate were organized in the '70s, and the organization continues providing year-round social service programs for 1,700 people. Its camps also include muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, cardiac conditions, arthritis, kidney conditions, cancer, asthma and bleeding disorders.

Aldersgate has a weeklong residential camp for diabetic children. It is the only residential camp in central Arkansas designed for and dedicated to children and teens living with the disease.

At Aldersgate, the kids are safely surrounded by people who face the same challenges of living with diabetes, from fellow campers to adult staff members.

Camp is not cheap, however. The cost varies based on the session. Tuition assistance and scholarships are available. Money is raised to help cover the vast majority of a camper's cost.

Camp Aldersgate's diabetes camp is July 14-19. To find out more about the camp, contact the office at (501) 225-1444. Or you can visit the website CampAldersgate.net.

See the national association's list of diabetes camps around the country here.

Email me at:

rboggs@arkansasonline.com

Style on 04/08/2019

Print Headline: Camp Aldersgate haven for diabetic kids

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