Jen M.

Outdoor Education (Part 3): CGM Devices and Other Things that Go Bump in the Night

So I’ve told you about all the prep leading up to James’ week of Outdoor Education with his class (a.k.a. “camp”), which I ended up chaperoning. Now let me tell you how it went…

Camp was FUN! At nearly 40, I hadn’t done some of those activities for far too long, and it was enchanting to be able to participate in the camp’s adventures. But camp was also… complicated from a type 1 diabetes management standpoint.

Did I mention that the camp was held on an island? This particular camp can only be reached by boat. Specifically, it is a two-hour boat ride across a long channel of the Pacific Ocean! That meant we had to potentially deal with seasickness. That’s a new one to me. We were lucky that none of the kids lost their lunch. Some were close. Maybe I was too. But James stayed just fine the whole time, thankfully. Vomiting is tricky when it comes to blood sugar.

Next, we were told immediately upon our arrival that no food could be kept in the cabins, because “foxes” will confiscate any snacks. I inquired discreetly about my juice boxes and candy to use for lows and was assured that the “foxes” were totally dissuaded by zipper baggies. Luckily I had those. I wondered a bit if this was along the same lines as the story I was told as a young girl at outdoor ed: that a wild, stray dog had a special hankering for candy and would attack anyone that brought candy into the cabins. We never tested that one back then and kept our candy away. James and I did, however, keep our low blood sugar supplies (including treatment for severe low blood sugar) in our cabin and did not run into any foxes!

Speaking of the cabin, James and I had our own. This was tricky, because James would have preferred to sleep with his buddies. At the same time, I recognized that I would need to have access to James at night to deal with any lows from the MUCH increased daily activity we experienced at camp! While the cabin situation made James sad, it was incredibly nice to have all that space and privacy, since I needed to change out James’ pump site and CGM (continuous glucose monitor) sensor as the week progressed. Thankfully, I think that the disappointment at not being able to be with his friends was temporary. Truth be told, that boy conked out fast asleep within mere minutes of turning in to the cabin at night. They really wore us out!

James was way more active during the day and also ate way more food than usual. All the kids did! As a mom, I was impressed by how not-picky the kids were. We were completely famished and exhausted by dinnertime, and camp fare never tasted so fine. Truly, I think it was good food, but there’s nothing like sea water, sand, and sun to season a meal. This camp was ACTIVE. While we were there, we scrambled up the cliffs to get to good tide pools, went kayaking in the ocean, snorkeled in the bay, and went on glorious, hilly hikes. It made us very hungry, and James ate A LOT! Sometimes even whole platefuls of pasta.

One night I made a rookie mistake. I had heard we had electrical outlets in our cabins, so I didn’t worry when I noted that some of my tech needed to be charged, figuring I could charge it overnight. I spent probably 30 minutes that evening looking over every inch of the cabin for a plug for my charger and didn’t find one! Which meant that some of my tools were out of commission for the night. (I later discovered my particular cabin had no electric plugs for some reason). I also put James’ CGM up on a “shelf” (really just a 2×4 that was part of the structure) thinking it would be easy for me to grab during the night to take a quick peek. Little did I know that the “vibrate” feature would cause that thing to tumble to the floor, and I spent a few cold minutes fumbling around on the ground in the dark looking for it. Lots of funny experiences adjusting to type 1 tech in a camp setting.

But all in all, it was a blast! And I’ve got more to report; stay tuned next week for the fourth installment of our Outdoor Ed experience.

 

Editor’s note: Interested in a summer camp tailored to children with diabetes? Find one at Diabetescamps.org or Diabetes.org.

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.

 

Related topics:
People in the Know: Backcountry Camping
Camping in Bear Country With Type 1 Diabetes
Tackling Outdoor Family Adventures

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