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December 16, 2001

School and Daycare

Question from New Jersey, USA:

My 10 year old attended a two-week diabetes camp that was less than optimum in terms of facilities, activities, and glucose control, so I am considering sending him to a non-diabetes sleep away camp next summer. He did learn to mix insulin under supervision and give himself injections. What do I tell the director of a non-diabetes sleep away camp about the medical needs of my child? What do I teach the counselors?


From: DTeam Staff

Call up the camp as soon as you can, and find out whether they have a nurse on-site. Every camp must have some designated medical staff for safety. See how much they know about diabetes already and then do some education to fill in the gaps. You should send your child’s insulin therapy and blood glucose monitoring instructions, meal plan and hypoglycemia plan before your child goes to camp.

The most important issues will be low blood sugar, timely meals and snacks and insulin administration in that order. Low blood sugar is an emergency, so you have to teach everyone about hypoglycemia treatment, and your child must carry glucose tabs and/or juice in a fanny pack with him at all times. Frequent blood glucose testing will also help to monitor the situation. Optimal glucose control probably can’t be expected in this environment, it is probably better to err on the high side for your son’s safety. Your child should be able to follow his meal plan with some help from his counselor, making sure all meals and snacks are eaten, especially the bedtime snack. He should also be able to check his blood sugar with minimal supervision.

When my daughter went to science camp, I called up the camp and talked with the nurse beforehand. I went over the diabetes basics (insulin, blood glucose testing, meal plan, effects of exercise and hypoglycemia treatment). Everything should be in writing. I was able to drive up with the group to drop everyone off and meet the nurse in person and go over all the supplies. I did not leave glucagon as my daughter has never needed this treatment, but if your child is more prone to seizure, I recommend it. Glucose gel massaged into the cheek is often just as effective in an unconscious hypoglycemic child. Be prepared and your child will have a wonderful time.