I just finished up a week as a volunteer at Akron Children’s Diabetes Camp.
Working under Claudia Meade, MS, RD, LD in the Camp Y-Noah dining hall, I helped to prepare meals and snacks with just the right amount of carbohydrates and nutrients to keep the campers going all week long.
It was hectic and stressful. At times, I wanted to crawl into the walk-in freezer and hide, just to get some peace and quiet. But I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a blast.
Because of my kitchen duties, I was only able to interact with the campers when they would come in for meals or when we’d walk snacks out to them several times a day.
But even in my limited exposure, I could tell that everyone was having a fantastic time.
Children with Type 1 diabetes often struggle with typical kid activities because they constantly have to be testing and monitoring their blood sugar, but the disease came second this week.
Campers got to swim, practice archery, make s’mores and do all the other activities you think of when you hear the word “camp.” I was so impressed with the volunteers and medical professionals who worked tirelessly, dealing with everything from hypoglycemia to homesickness, to keep things running smoothly.
Aside from just having fun, one of the big goals of Diabetes Camp is to really help the campers learn about taking care of their diabetes.
As a nutrition major, we were often told stories about those who would refuse to understand how to manage and control their diabetes. That wasn’t the case in this smart group of kids. I was amazed at how much they already knew.
We didn’t delve into the intricacies of diabetes until my senior year of college, and here were campers as young as 7 running around and calculating how much insulin they’d need to bolus for if they got a second hamburger.
The 5 a.m. wakeup calls were rough, the spiders seemed to be everywhere, and by the end of the week, the catchy camp tunes were really starting to grate on my nerves.
Even so, I already miss my fellow volunteers and the campers who made us feel like what we were doing was so worthwhile. I’m already counting down the days until next summer’s camp!
Alyssa Pupino graduated from Ohio State University in May and will begin her graduate studies and dietary clinical internship at Kent State University in August.