According to the American Diabetes Association, over 200,000 Americans under age 20 are estimated to have diagnosed diabetes. A special Camp Adventure summer camp now in it’s 17th year here in Aroostook County is dedicated to empowering teens with the disease. New Source 8’s Angela Christoforos reports…
These teens are hiking at the Nordic Heritage Center, it’s just one out of a string of activities they’ve been doing this week. They’re taking part in Camp Adventure, a specialized camp just for teens with Type 1 diabetes.
Camp Co-Director Erica Ouellette said, “We’re the only camp in Maine exclusively for these kids and it’s just a week long for them to be around people who are just like them.”
Increased physical activity makes a drop in blood sugar levels more likely. That’s why camp staff monitor the blood sugar levels of these campers several times throughout the day. The camp is staffed by volunteer paramedics, nurse practitioners, diabetes educators, registered dietitians, and a camp endocrinologist.
“At home they usually test their blood sugar levels 4 to 6+ times a day at camp it’s more like 10 plus times a day,” said Ouellette.
Thirty teens are participating this year from all over the state and even across the country, and a lot of these kids come year after year, like Zoe. It’s her 3rd time coming to camp adventure, and she travels all the way from Portland.
Zoe Coffin said, “I wanted the experience of knowing a lot of other diabetics I had never met another diabetic before I came to his camp, and it’s just such a great community I definitely wanted to come back it’s so much fun I learn something new every time I come.” ” So it’s totally worth the 6 hour drive?” “completely worth the 6 hour drive.”
Craig Schiff’s been attending the camp for 4 years, and there’s one thing that keeps him coming back year after year.
Craig Schiff said, “Hanging out with other people who have the same medical condition as you cause in my school there’s only one other diabetic. And coming to this makes me feel like there’s not only 2 people with diabetes it makes me feel like there’s hundreds more out there.”
Nurse practitioner Ann Gahagan said, “When they get altogether they’re the normal. They’re the kids that have diabetes altogether and so they’re working with each other.”
They learn how to safely manage their blood sugar while increasing their physical activity and having fun.
The camp is made possible by donations from several local and corporate sponsors as well as the volunteer staff.