Who says diabetes camp is only for summer? At Riding on InsulinSM ski and snowboard camps for kids with type 1 diabetes, the fun heats up when the temperatures outside start to drop.
Founded by Sean Busby, a pro snowboarder diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2004 at age 19, Riding on Insulin camps take place all winter long at locations across the U.S., Canada, and even New Zealand. (Check RidingOnInsulin.org for upcoming dates.) The one-day programs are designed for kids with T1D and their families to get active, make friends, and experience the sense of community and belonging that comes from spending time with others just like themselves.
Mollie Busby, who runs Riding on Insulin along with her husband, knows a little something about what it’s like to love someone with type 1. And it’s important to her to spread the word that both parents and siblings are welcome to attend Riding on Insulin camps. She shares the reason why: “I don’t have type 1 diabetes, but I am a supporter and caregiver to someone who does… so I know how isolating it is to not really have anyone to talk to about what we ‘type 3s’ go through. When siblings attend camp, they meet other kids who know what it’s like to have a brother or sister with T1D. We also have separate parent programming during the day for parents to share and feel supported in caring for their child with diabetes. In the evening, we all eat dinner together and attend a presentation by one of our volunteers. [Camp] is an opportunity for everyone in the family to feel connected.”
It’s also a chance for families to get active outdoors at a time of year when it’s easy to feel stuck inside. “When kids learn how to ski and snowboard, it gives them something to look forward to in winter. Camp provides motivation to try something new and shows kids and parents how T1 care can fit in with their time on the slopes,” Mollie adds.
No one in the family needs to have any ski or snowboard experience to attend. Riding on Insulin camps are open to kids ages 7 to 17, from true beginners right on up to those on the competitive level. When campers arrive, they’re split into groups based on their ability and assigned a coach. “Our amazing volunteer ski and snowboard instructors are people who have T1, people who are caregivers to someone with diabetes, or diabetes medical professionals. They are out on the slopes all day with the kids, mentoring them and helping them experience what it means to live life with T1 without limits. It’s a true kids-first atmosphere,” Mollie explains. Medical volunteers are also on site, and group blood sugar checks, snacks, and meals are built into the day’s jam-packed schedule.
If winter diabetes camp sounds like summer diabetes camp but just a little bit colder, it’s probably because of the common tie that diabetes camps seem to share, no matter what the season.
According to Mollie, “Riding on Insulin is here to help kids with T1D learn in freedom and have a day where they feel completely normal… where they don’t need to explain their diabetes to anyone, because everyone here ‘gets it.’ As Sean likes to say, the best ‘medicine’ for T1 next to insulin is being with someone who knows exactly what you are going through.”
In other words, even in the deep freeze of winter, there’s a heartwarming experience waiting for your child.
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.
Riding on Insulin is the service mark of Riding on Insulin, a non-profit corporation, Utah, USA.