Help with Proposal to Set up Type 1 summer camp near Chandler Arizona

Hi All - it’s been a tremendous challenge to find acceptable babysitters and /or camps or even after school care for my daughter since she was diagnosed last year. I was able to push one of her camp sites to take her in during breaks, while I remain on standby in the vicinity (upstairs). I’m lucky enough to work remote, but others don’t. I’m on hand with a Glucagon pen and insulin and tabs. However, I’m interested in helping to start a summer camp for Type 1 kids in this area.
The school district nurse and others indicate that they are seeing a rise in the # of diabetic kids. There’s a tremendous need out there and I’m thinking about approaching my daughter’s camp / recreation site about working with me to set one up. Question is where do I start? what’s essential? Would love your input on what else I’m missing here? I want to approach them with a reasonable request.

  • Staffing needs: NP / RN / diabetes educator on staff, 2-3 FT health assistants w/related experience
  • time from NP/RN to review of each child’s doctor’s orders
  • 2-3 hr training of onsite coaches (usually high school or college kids) on diabetic child needs and safety
  • agreement on appropriate lunch and snack menu (current one is sky high on carbs)
  • safety/liability agreements between parents and facility
    -camp activities should involve a session that allows kids to address their Q’s and concerns about their diabetes - what it’s like to have T1? address their emotional needs…
    -the place usually breaks up the child ages, but I’m thinking to ensure enough kids participate, they could be combined 5 to 12 yrs old.

My pitch to the campsite is that its an opportunity for them to market to this niche and they could charge a bit more, given the added cost of the expert staff onsite and specialized diets, and training time of coaches needed, perhaps 10-15% above usual fees. Would appreciate others thoughts on how best to approach this and what other considerations to share with the campsite. Thanks for your insights!

Hi Angelica,
I’m wondering, do you mean an actual camp, or more of an after-school/school break "day"care program? It sounds, from what you describe, you mean the latter.
The reason I ask, is that there is a diabetes summer camp in the Prescott area. Summer camps offer arts and crafts, swimming, boating, sports, as well as peer talks about diabetes and life with diabetes. The idea of an after school program is intriguing, but could be difficult to set up. If this is what you are thinking of, I wish you luck with your endeavors. I do have a few suggestions:

  1. Different age groups will have different questions and concerns about their diabetes. So, I would not recommend combining them all for the Q &A sessions. Activities could be set up so that while the younger kids are on the playground, the older D’s would be in discussion group and then they could switch places. All this would take is an aide on the playground, so not a big cost to accommodate.
  2. As with 503 ©’s someone at the existing camp could be trained on how to administer insulin and glucagon, what the signs for lows and highs are, etc. Then a separate camp would not be necessary.
  3. You could also contact the school’s (or district’s) cafeteria about providing healthier snacks. I know when I was in college I was able to get bed-time snacks from the cafeteria. All it took was a note from my doctor explaining why it was needed. I’m sure that Chandler Schools would work with you as well.

These are my thoughts. I hope you find them helpful and wish you luck!

Pam K.
T1D 56.5 years and counting!

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thanks Pam! Yes, I’m looking for a break / summer camp, as opposed to an after school option (although that too is desperately needed!) I was not familiar with the one in Prescott, though unfortunately that one is too far from Chandler or Phoenix for that matter. Great tips. I’m in the beginning stages of testing the waters at this site. This recreation center is already accustomed to my daughter - they alert me to her lows, and email me the car count for her lunch. I previously trained their staff when my daughter started though my own FEAR kept me from totally relying on those young high school / college kids. I’m really excited to put forward the suggestions. thanks again for you insights!

Congratulations on your desire to start a camp for kids with diabetes. I’ve had diabetes for 50+ years and still have fond memories of Camp Glyndon where I spent a few weeks over a few summers. I think the weeks were determined by age range so you were with others in the same developmental area. My cabin the first year didn’t have its own bathroom so if you had to go in the middle of the night you had to wake one of the counselors to take you. I was shy about washing my counselor and recall walking up the hill by myself to the restrooms, going very quickly, and rushing back - all the while hoping no one would jump out and grab me!
Now I rarely sleep through the night without getting up to go - thankfully that only happened once at camp.
I also remember all the kids gathering together to do something called checking our blood sugar checked before meals. We were - well I was - fascinated by a tabletop machine that did the deed. Each of us have our sample and say and waited several minutes. Someone asked if they had them to use at home, and we were told it was only for professionals😞. I gut my first home meter a little after college - they were fairly new at the time.
I only remember one specific person from camp - her name was Wanda R. and I nicknamed her “Firefly” because she blushed easily - it was good natured teasing that she seemed to enjoy, and I hope she didn’t think I was bulying her. Wanda if you’re out there I hope you’re well!
My last memory - which had nothing to do with diabetes - was off the freedom I felt white there. Freedom from my mom lovingly hovering over me (and I hope she enjoyed having me in someone else’s good hands so she could get a break). Unfortunately that freedom was not all good. My diabetes was fine while I was there, but during one, two week session I did nothing - absolutely nothing - with my hair, which was below my shoulders. Being a person of color I really needed to care for it. There was a look of combined joy, horror, panic and anger when my mom first saw me. She sat me down on the ground, say herself down on a bench, found a comb and started detangling me. The pain I felt from those extra large gauge needles they used for the BG tests were nothing - and I mean nothing compared with that. My scalp pulls as I think about it.
Aside from the monitoring and I’m sure there was some education and discussion, the camp was pretty much like other camps I went to when I got older (that were day camps though) - filled with hiking, soccer, playing capture the flag, etc.
I’m droning on just so you’ll know kids do remember their camp time even down the road - I can’t recall the name of someone I met 10 minutes ago but this I remember.
One thing I suggest you might look at - I don’t have kids so I don’t know the upper age for camps - I’m guessing around 12(?) - but having a session or a camp dedicated to tweens and teens might be worth looking into.
Wishing you all the best!

We have had terrific experiences with Florida Diabetes Camp:
Scroll down for phone numbers and an email address.

Gary and Chris have been running an outstanding and multi-faceted program for years, they’re super-knowledgeable, super-helpful, and super-friendly. I bet they’d love to talk about the nuts and bolts of getting one started near you!