I have had the privilege to get to volunteer at the Diabetes Youth Foundation of Indiana’s Summer Diabetes Camp in Noblesville, IN. This is the 4th year that I spent a week at camp serving as the Registered Dietitian on staff. My job isn’t super glamorous, but it is fun. I get to work in the kitchen to organize and prepare the meals for the campers with food allergies. One in sixty Type 1 Diabetic patients also have another auto immune disease like Celiac Disease. So this means that these campers require gluten free options and often other Type 1 Diabetic people have other food allergies (issues with peanuts, dairy, soy, etc). To help accomodate these special needs, I work to provide options for these campers. Throughout the week, I work to prepare meal and snack items that accomodate those dietary restrictions our campers and some staff have.
I worked in a camp kitchen before, back in 2008 I was a cook at Camp Lakeview for a summer. There is a special place in my heart for camp kitchen staff. I enjoy being able to give back in this way and help to make some of these speciality food items. I love being at Diabetes Camp, because it provides a place where these Type 1 Diabetics get to be “normal.” Checking your blood sugar is normal. In fact, if you are at camp and don’t have diabtes, that is more abnormal. I have really enjoyed getting to know the staff and campers. It has been fun to go back year after year and see these kids grow up and get to help them learn to love camp as well.
Like I said it isn’t a glamorous job, but I think it is super important. All of us have to eat and we do it at least 3 times a day for meals and hopefully 1-2 other snacks included in there as well. For someone with Type 1 Diabetes that means that they have to account for everything they put in their mouth, dose their insulin and track what their blood sugars are. That can make meal time a stressful experience. I have to imagine that spending a week at camp where you have medical staff helping to track and manage your diabetes has to be a welcomed relief. A chance to be surrounded with all of these other people with Type 1 Diabetes and get to have fun while knowing your diabetes is being taken care of.
All in all it has been a great week. Lots of early morings and long days, but it was a ton of fun and I really enjoyed the chance to volunteer. It is always a great way to spend a week!