D-camp is almost here! This being our second year at d-camp, I thought I’d share some tips I’ve learned.
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It can be hard to know what to pack when your child is going away for a week (or more). How much do you pack? You don’t want to overpack and have them lug around a bunch of stuff they don’t need, but you also don’t want to under pack and miss something. Let’s get right into it.
- Sleeping bag. Make sure you have a warm sleeping bag for your child. This sleeping bag is our favorite.
- Pillow. We send a Pillow Pet, but your child’s usual pillow from home works fine.
- Flashlight. Don’t forget to pack extra batteries!
- Insect repellent. (I feel like this is for obvious reasons)
- Backpack. If there are hikes or day trips at your child’s camp, sending a smaller backpack is super helpful so they can bring the essentials with them.
- Toiletry kit. Soap, shampoo, toothpaste, and a toothbrush to name a few. Get travel sized toiletries to send or grab some small plastic containers to put the liquids in… I wonder if empty test strip bottles would work??
- Clothes. I pack an outfit (shorts, t-shirt, underwear, and socks) for each day, plus a couple extras (particularly socks and underwear). And throw in 2 or 3 pairs of long pants and sweaters in case it gets cold.
- Pajamas. Pack at least one set for every 2 days of camp. More if your child is still wetting the bed.
- Footwear. Check out the camp website to see what activities your child will be doing. Sandals, water shoes, rain boots, and hiking shoes may all be needed.
- Weather appropriate gear. Where we live, it can be hot and sunny, pouring rain, and hailing all in the span of a few hours. Make sure you pack for the weather. Pack a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses for sunny days and boots and a rain jacket for rain.
- Towels. It’s a good idea to pack more than one. Make sure they will dry fast like these towels.
- Swimsuits. Again, it’s best if you can pack 2 as one might not be dry by the next time they go into the water (have you ever had to put on a wet bathing suit?? Yuck!)
Check with your camp what is provided. Some camps provide blood glucose meters, test strips, lancets, and other d-supplies. If the camp provides these items, make sure you pack enough for getting to and from camp.
- Insulin. Obviously you want insulin, but how much? Generally, blood sugars run a bit higher at camp because they don’t want the kids crashing from all the extra activity and excitement. Your child will likely need less insulin than normal during camp week. However, I figure out how much insulin we would need in a week, double it, and send at least that much, just to be on the safe side.
- Pump supplies. Again, I double what we would need and send an extra site/ reservoir (we use Animas Ping, there are different names for different pumps – Pods for example).
- CGM supplies. Many camps are “un-plugged” and do not allow electronics like cell phones. Some don’t use CGMs at all, some allow CGM use but not sharing (Nightscout, xDrip, etc). Check out what is allowed at your camp before sending CGM supplies. We personally choose to go CGM free during camp, I’m nervous about my son losing his receiver in the woods somewhere…
Comforts and fun:
D-camp, like most camps, is very busy. But there are some down times. Make sure to pack a few things for your child to do during those times.
- Books. Pack a couple of books that are at your child’s reading level. If they aren’t big on reading, check out some cool magazines or nature books that have interesting pictures to look at. (My son even took instructions to a giant Lego set this year that he wants to look at).
- Camera. Pack a camera that you don’t mind if it gets lost or wrecked. It’s lots of fun to take pictures of their friends, but they’re still kids and they lose things. A cheap digital camera works great!
- Games. Something quiet like cards or travel size games.
Even if your child is super excited to go to d-camp, they might get homesick. Send some things that will remind them of home, but won’t make them sad.
- Stuffed animal. Send their favorite stuffy or blanket to sleep with.
- Care package. Get every member of the family to write a little note to your child. Keep it light and positive. Talk about all the friends they are going to make, the fun they will have, and how proud you are of them. Stay away from saying that you miss them as that could increase feelings of homesickness. Add a little notebook they can use as a diary, pens, paper, pre-stamped and addressed envelopes (so they can send letters home), and a few family photos.
- Goodnites. Even if your child doesn’t usually wet the bed at night, diabetes camp is a lot of activity and some kids have a hard time waking from a deep sleep to go to the washroom in the night. That, paired with camp running their blood sugar a bit higher, can cause accidents. Be prepared and let your child know that it may happen.
D-camp drop off can be a long process. Get there on time and be prepared to be there for an hour or more. There is a lot to do at check-in, make sure everyone has eaten, is dressed for the weather (you’ll probably be outside), and bring water/ coffee to drink.
Tips and tricks
- Pack diabetes supplies and any other medications in 2 separate, clear ziplock bags. This makes medical supplies easily identifiable and if your camp heats luggage (bedbug protocol), you can easily take medications out of the main luggage.
- Pack toiletries and anything else that can’t be heated in another ziplock bag. For the same reasons as the medications, and it’s just easier to have it all in one place.
- Use large bags to pack daily outfits. Make sure there’s an outfit for each day. Label the bags with your child’s name and what is in each bag. When they’re done with the clothes, they can put them back in the bag and seal it to help reduce odor.
- Label everything. Put your child’s name or initials on each item and on every bag.
- Include a list. Put an itemized list in your child’s luggage. That way it’s easy to see if anything is missing at pick-up time.
- Add a few empty bags for wet and dirty laundry.
- Enjoy your T1D-free time! Your child is having a blast and has experienced professionals taking care of them. Don’t spend the entire time worrying about what their blood sugar is doing. You’re getting a much deserved break, take advantage of it!
Diabetes camp is an amazing camp experience for children with T1D. They do all the things a “normal” camp does, and they help to normalize diabetes for your child. Your child can learn from others as well as help teach other campers. They will see kids on different kinds of insulin pumps, with and without CGMs, and kids on MDI.
Camp teaches them how to care for themselves in an environment where everyone is testing blood sugar and injecting insulin.
I hope you and your child enjoy every minute of it!!
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