As any sufferer knows, there are two types of Diabetes, type I and type II. The latter is sometimes called adult onset diabetes, and over 90% of diabetics suffer this type.
It therefore takes no great leap of imagination to realize that the vast majority of diabetics are adults. But children can also suffer from diabetes, and for such kids, there are problems to face that are very different to those of their diabetic seniors.
For example, a child with diabetes will obviously need close monitoring, and a great deal of constant care and attention from parents. This in itself is not a problem, but it may mean that the child may never spend a night away from home, and it is not uncommon in these circumstances for a child to have never met another child of their own age with diabetes. Effectively, this is a very isolating period in a diabetic child’s life.
For theses reasons, many countries are now establishing special camps for diabetic children, to address these problems, by bringing a higher degree of normality to the life of diabetic children. Such camps provide 24 hour professional medical supervision and care to all the children, and are an extremely effective way to give young people living with diabetes a chance to be independent and learn about their condition with the support of their peers and trained health professionals.
They provide an enjoyable and safe camping experience in a supervised environment, and often focus, at least to some degree, on increasing the children’s ability to manage their own condition. Such camping conditions also create an environment which allows the interaction between young people with diabetes that may otherwise be denied through geographic isolation.
These diabetes education and recreational camps are, of course, designed to be fun as well as educational. Generally, they will offer a wide range of sporting facilities, which allow participants to try out new sports and other recreational activities, particularly team based activities, that they may often be otherwise denied.
On the medical side, nothing is left to chance. Prior to camp, each participant is normally required to supply a detailed medical history and an indication of the management skills of the child. Based on this knowledge, the camp can then offer the child the opportunity to learn further self management skills and how to interact with other young people with diabetes under professional supervision.
Other people benefit too. Often, many of the “helpers” in such camps are volunteers, with little first hand knowledge of diabetes, and these people will learn a great deal from their exposure on a day to day basis to the children.
Even the health care professionals themselves can gain a valuable insight into the management and lifestyle of young people with diabetes that no textbook can provide. These people usually report that they do learn a lot, and even the most experienced educators say they are moved by the realities of living day to day with these children.
And, last but by no means least, the parents enjoy a break from the daily routine of caring for a young person with diabetes, with the real likelihood that their child will gain confidence and increase their self management skills.