More
Close

Dear Diabetes: Letters from Summer Camp

Summer means camp, and when you have diabetes, that simple concept becomes complicated. Each year, Massachusetts' Clara Barton Camp offers one week of family camp where kids get to enjoy the experience without feeling different. And along with their parents, they learn more about their diabetes from diabetic staff members and the other kids who attend.
  • Kids Bravely Share Feelings About Type 1 Diabetes

    It's common for a child with type 1 to be the only kid in his or her classroom or neighborhood with diabetes. But at diabetes camp, children are surrounded by dozens of others who share their same struggles, experiences, and questions.

    There are more than 200 camps in North America devoted to giving kids with diabetes a safe and fun camp experience—and creating an opportunity for them to feel normal while learning more about managing diabetes on their own. These camps employ trained staffs, nurses, and enthusiastic counselors, most of whom have diabetes themselves.

    Clara Barton Camp, located an hour southwest of Boston, offers a weeklong camp every August for families of children with type 1 diabetes. The campers at family camp range in age from 4 to 16, and many of them return year after year to reunite with friends or be trained as counselors or staff.

    In an activity to help with the emotional aspects of living with diabetes, campers wrote down their feelings in "Dear Diabetes" letters. Some campers shared their letters out loud as other campers and counselors applauded and shouted out words of encouragement. Here are 17 letters campers bravely shared about their diabetes.

  • Dear Diabetes,

    "Sometimes I love you but sometimes I hate you! I hate when my blood sugar is high or low and I don't feel well. I also don't like having to prick my finger or take shots. I love you though because I get to go to camp and have so much fun and meet lots of new friends!"
    Love,
    Jen

  • Dear Diabetes,

    "You are not my friend."
    Eric
    "This is the thing that holds my insulin!"

  • Dear Diabetes,

    "You can be very frustrating at times. You make me test every meal, snack, and in between sports. Everyone asks me, 'Oh what is diabetes?' and it gets really frustrating to explain it a lot. But you also are good, you led me to camp, made new friends, and made me stronger. So, thank you in good ways and bad."
    Sincerely,
    Olivia

  • Dear Diabetes,

    "Sometimes you make me mad because you make my blood sugar high and that means I can't eat, but sometimes I'm happy because my blood sugar is good and I can eat. You have been in my life for 6 years. Sometimes I'm angry that I have you but there are lots of good things about you to like.

    I get to go to camp and the pump makes it a lot easier. Sometimes you make me feel sick or tired when I'm high and when I'm low you make me have a headache and you make my heart beat fast. Even though you make my life hard there are still some good things."

  • Dear Diabetes,

    "I love you because I get to check myself. You are great."
    Love,
    Maya

  • Dear Diabetes,

    "I don't like you at all, because I can't eat when I want to eat. I'm going to try and get my blood sugars in check, by keeping up with my diabetes, eating healthy and exercising."
    Love,
    Madelyn

  • Dear Diabetes,

    "I do not like it when you make me low and high. It is boring. Here is a picture.
    P.S. I like when you make me get free stuff!"

  • Dear Diabetes,

    "I don't like you at all but, because I have you I got to come to Clara Barton camp, and when I'm low I get things like glucose tabs, juice, candy, and special sweets. Those I like, sort of."
    Love,
    Sophie

  • Dear Type-One Diabetes,

    "Why aren't you called something different so people don't think I have type-two diabetes?! ARGH."
    Love
    TJ

  • Dear Diabetes,

    "You make me feel scared. When I see a bird in the sky it makes me feel I am going to go low. It makes me happy because having diabetes makes me special. When I'm low I want to run but I can't and that makes me feel sad. When my blood sugar is in the middle I can run around and be crazy and that makes me happy. Having diabetes lets me come to camp and I'm happy. Sometimes when my pump doesn't work and I'm high, I'm mad because I have to change it. Sometimes it's easy, but sometimes when it's hard my mommy and daddy help me so it's easy."
    Love,
    Arturo

  • Dear Diabetes,

    "All I have to say is that you make my life a whole lot different than the usual. You also make me feel special."
    Goodbye,
    Natalie

  • Dear Diabetes,

    "You are bittersweet because sometimes you slow me down and make me miss out on things, but I get to go to camp and do fun things, and meet cool people like George Bush, and Bobby Flay. Also thank you for the T-1 Luminary Enlightenment and being on the Today show, but you are still very annoying."
    Sincerely,
    Harrison

  • Dear Diabetes,

    "You've been in my life for 5 years. Diabetes makes me go to camp."
    Matthew

  • Dear Diabetes,

    "Sometimes I hate you because I feel like no one understands how I feel but, I still like you because I have people looking out for me and sometimes I don't like you because people make fun of me. I don't have anyone in my neighborhood or my family and I feel kind of left out."
    Love,
    Alexandra

  • Dear Diabetes,

    "Hi this is a letter to you. I have had you for a year. It is good and bad. You are good because I get to go to camp and make new friends. And eat better. You are bad and make me sad."
    Love,
    Taylor

  • Dear Diabetes,

    "Sometimes I like you. And sometimes I don't like you. But this week I like you a lot because I get to go to Camp Barton Center!"
    Love,
    Jenna

  • Want to Go to Camp?

    Every year more than 20,000 children in North America attend diabetes camp. It's best to register and plan your trip several months in advance, but some camps, including Clara Barton Camp, take registrations up to one week before camp. Check out these websites to learn more.

    The Diabetes Education & Camping Association (DECA) website offers a comprehensive directory of camps, searchable by location. DECA recommends searching by state rather than distance. To make a donation to help send a kid to camp, click on the "Programs" tab on the website diabetescamps.org.

    The Barton Center for Diabetes Education in North Oxford, Massachusetts, is one of the largest camping and educational programs dedicated to children who live with diabetes. Learn more about the camp and program offerings in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts at bartoncenter.org.

    The American Diabetes Association offers information about camps, including a directory, testimonials, and a short video so parents and kids can see what camp is like, at diabetes.org/camp.

    Letter by Jaden

    Healthy Snacks Kids Love!

  • Tags: