Camp Endres Junior: “The most super awesome experience”

Camp ENdres Junior 2016 group photoCamp Endres Junior 2016 provided “the most super awesome experience anyone with diabetes could ask for!” as told to me by a first-time camper. Who could ask for anything more?

This year, 56 campers and 43 staff (including both health care professionals and medical counselors who also have type 1 diabetes) enjoyed a week of coming together as one big family and had an opportunity to grow within themselves.

Campers overwhelmingly reported that what they love so much about Camp Endres is that when they come to camp, they “fit in” or they feel “normal.” At camp, everybody gets it. Everyone seems to understand the same struggles and frustrations of feeling alone and burned out by diabetes.

Camp Endres empowers campers and staff to feel like they truly matter and that having to stop to check blood glucose readings is no big deal. Everybody does it. At camp, we had several campers who put their insulin pump infusion set in all by themselves for the very first time. We welcomed campers who had never stayed away from home before because of their diabetes.

This summer completed my 23rd year of diabetes camp at the YMCA Camp Classen. And as much as fashion and food trends have changed over the years, kids with diabetes really haven’t. The struggles kids with diabetes face today are no different than they were 20 years ago, even though so much of how we manage diabetes has changed.

Kids with diabetes still feel isolated, fearful, and pressured to do better. Some feel shame. Some feel like they’re under a microscope and misunderstood—just to name a few of the emotions experienced by kids with diabetes.

It is such a wonderful feeling when kids come to Camp Endres and I greet each one of them as they walk through the door of the dining hall. We’re making a difference in the lives of so many kids. We are inspiring kids with diabetes to be all they can be. We are empowering them to believe in themselves. We are improving lives and creating memories that will last a lifetime.

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