Camp brings comfort for kids with Type 1 Diabetes

SCHOOLCRAFT COUNTY, Mich. (WLUC) - Right in Camp UPeninsulin name, it’s clear to what the focus is for this five day overnight camp.

"The last part of the word is insulin and that's what these kids really need is insulin," said Camp Director, Sarah Balko.

Type 1 Diabetes causes a lack of insulin which is used to process food. The 30-40 campers with Type 1 Diabetes come to Camp UPeninsulin to not only embrace their disease but to learn about it.

"After every meal and after every snack, the kids are recording their carbohydrates that they eat," said Balko. "We help them calculate their insulin doses that they take through their shot or pump."

It’s those meal recordings and blood sugar checks done as a group that sets this camp apart from others.

"Here in the U.P. especially these kids are the only ones in their class that have type one diabetes so they are very isolated and feel different," said Balko. "To have this camp, it brings everyone with type 1 together and it just helps them feel like they are not alone."

This camp not only builds awareness about Type 1 disabilities but also self-confidence as campers have opportunities to go on a high ropes course about 18 feet above the ground.

"It makes you feel normal and that you can do it," said Michael Nyman, a former camper and current counselor. "By being here, you aren’t the only one going through this and you know it’s all going to be okay."

However the high ropes course and other activities the camp offers, does bring health challenges.

"Activity affects how much insulin your body needs, so most of these kids their insulin doses are calculated for their home life and now we are at camp being very active," said Balko. "We have to calculate different insulin doses and that’s why I have lots of nurses here."

The nonprofit Camp UPeninsulin plans to continue their diabetic camp next year and encourages kids and adults affected by the disease to join.
Click here for more information about Camp UPeninsulin.

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