I was invited to attend Camp AZDA’s VIP day last Wednesday. It was an invigorating experience. We were led on a camp tour by one of the physicians on the camp medical staff. It was great to see that this camp in Prescott, Arizona has so many wonderful activities for kids. What made it even better was being their in the midst of the campers, while they were doing these activities and getting the chance to talk and listen to them. Upon arrival, I could see and feel the positive energy from this group.
Camp AZDA at Friendly Pines offers two sections of camp. One section is for kids 8-13 years old. The Teen Adventure Program (TAP) is the section for kids ages 14-16. The camp offers, swimming, horseback riding, rock climbing, athletic fields, arts and crafts, archery, canoeing, fishing, obstacle course, ropes course and so many other activities, it is hard to keep up. I happened to arrive during a tug-of-war game and later that evening they were having a carnival of sorts.
The tour was informative and well presented. The facilities are remarkable for camping! The cabins are spaced appropriately and medical staff cabins are interspersed throughout the camper cabins. Each cabin has three counselors inside including a diabetic counselor (DC), a friendly pines staff member, and a medical staff member.
Living with diabetes, especially as a child is complicated. I was happy to watch groups of smiling kids move through the day attending to their insulin pumps at one location, getting band aids if needed at the MASH unit, and a separate location for the daily dietary changes and adjustments that should be made. I saw encouraging support in almost every area of this place. Some kids cheering for others as they injected their first pump site. Some cheering for others after they had mastered their injections. I saw others comforting a girl that had given a painful injection. I also saw, kids simply being kids. That was the best of all! These kids were not embarrassed by their diabetes or their pumps or their high blood sugars or their low ones. They were all in it together and no one was excluded!
I encourage you to find out more about this camp if your child has diabetes. I was honored to be theri quest and will continue to look for ways in which I can support this camp’s endeavors. I will continue to fundraise for “camperships”, see if I can get snacks or supplies donated or sponsor a particular camper. The ADA is setting a wonderful example for children to be children, even if they happen to have diabetes!