I feel like I could write a novel about James’ experience as a kid with type 1 diabetes at Outdoor Education. When I wrote about how we GOT to camp, I cut a lot of detail from the account to make it concise, to make it useful.
I’m realizing now that I really need to back up for a minute and explain one other thing that is quite relevant to the situation. There was another family at James’ school in the exact same situation as us, and working with them really made the experience a lot better.
Yes, there is another kid with type 1 diabetes in James’ grade. In some ways he’s a lot like James. They share a lot of interests and many friends. But they’re also very different. And their needs for diabetes management are very different. This other child is very responsible and prefers to handle himself some of the diabetes tasks that James likes “outsourcing” to me or to the nurse at school (although he’s getting more independent every day, I feel).
I was really interested to see how this other family felt about the Outdoor Education (or “camp,” as we call it) situation. I was somewhat relieved to find out that they felt as strongly as I did that exceptional experience with type 1 diabetes was needed for their son to be safe at camp and that they were also lobbying to be allowed to attend.
So from the very start, I felt like we were working as a team with them. This was so helpful, because I think a big part of why we were successful is that we had really thought through our options and our arguments and the points of view of the school. Talking to this other family was completely invaluable. Together we discussed maybe staying home from camp and choosing other activities. We discussed our concerns about medical personnel taking over. And we talked about why the school was acting so rigid all of a sudden. That talking and pondering really helped us to craft a strategy. It is hard to convey without being super wordy, but let’s just say our strategy changed as we gathered information and talked together!
It felt wonderful to have support, to be able to vent about the unfairness of it all, to buoy each other with hope when it seemed overwhelming. I think the fact that there were TWO of us also gave the school pause as to how much work a medic would have to perform, and parents attending suddenly started looking a lot more appealing!
Well, as you know from part one of this experience, both boys were able to go to camp. It was awesome. And having this other family there at camp made the experience better too. I think meeting good people has been perhaps the biggest blessing of James’ diagnosis. This was no exception. The journey in getting to camp and the time we spent there were made infinitely better because the experience was shared! And I just felt that the other family’s tremendous contribution needed to be acknowledged.
Check back here next month for more on James’ (and my) experience once we got to camp!
Click here for information on the Lilly Camp Care Package, an initiative to provide diabetes camps across the country with educational resources to help children learn to manage their type 1 diabetes.
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.