Kim M.

Can Bears Smell Insulin?

Yes, believe it or not, that was a question that my husband asked the rangers as we pulled into the campground at Sequoia National Park this past weekend. They were explaining what could and could not be placed in cars, tents, and bear boxes, and you should have seen the confused looks on their faces when my husband asked about insulin. I guess it might make sense… if bears are attracted to campsites by soaps, lotions, baby wipes, and anything that might look like it has food whether it does or not, maybe they could smell insulin too.

I wasn’t about to disconnect Kaitlyn’s insulin pump and put it in the bear box for the night though, so we took the risk! (Ha ha.) What I was more concerned about was the juice boxes that we usually have close to her bedside for nighttime lows. Those had to go into the bear box, and let me tell you — it’s not fun going out into the freezing cold in the middle of the night with a flashlight, clanking the huge bear box lock and doors, trying not to wake up the entire campground. One night, Kaitlyn must have dosed a bit too much for her after-dinner s’mores treat and was low multiple times. My hero husband went out three separate times to get juice and then three more times to put the empty juice containers — which were also on the “no-no” list — back into the bear box. Our neighboring campers must have wondered what in the world we were up to.

Tent camping with a family is a lot of work. Nobody ever said it was the easiest vacation, and dealing with diabetes-related things makes it just a little bit more complicated. Since Kaitlyn’s diagnosis with type 1 diabetes almost seven years ago, we’ve gone camping many times, and I would do it a million more if we could. There’s just something about being out in nature, so close to the stars, trees, and water, and away from TV, video games, and cell phones. It’s just awesome.

So, if you’re considering taking your child with diabetes camping, my advice would be to go for it! Yes, it’s a lot of work, but it’s completely worth it! You might consider letting your kid go to bed with blood sugar just a bit on the high side of in-range so that there’s less chance of needing to go out for juice overnight. But don’t let the bear box hassles scare you away. That said, you can bet that I will be the first one in line when they invent scent-free juice or candy!

 

Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.

 

Related topics:
People in the Know: Backcountry Camping
3 New Must-Try Campfire Cooking Recipes
Tackling Outdoor Family Adventures

Recent posts from Jen & Kim

Read more about Jen & Kim