My name is Kelly, and I was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes in August of 2002. I had the uncommon fortune of knowing plenty of kids my age that also had diabetes. I wasn’t particularly close to any of them, but it did give me a great resource and a group of people to lean on early in my diagnosis.
In fact, it was one of my friends (as well as my doctor) that told me about a camp for kids who had diabetes. In all honesty, I was originally 100% against it. Finally, I did end up going. To this day, it was the best decision of my life.
The camp has influenced and changed my life for the better. I have made friends who I wouldn’t trade for anything. My good friend who I had known prior to the camp is now my best friend and someone who I rely on constantly to keep me in check.
Year after year, even once I was too old to be a camper any more, I came back. As a counselor I continued to grow in my ability to care for myself and realized that I actually wanted learn to care for others. The camp influenced my career decision in a way that I never would have expected. It made me realize that I love the camp and that I wanted to be able to help people the way those at the camp had helped me.
I became a nurse. Even after I had graduated college and passed boards I wasn’t sure I was ready to give up being a counselor just yet. I had been with my best friend/co-counselor in the same cabin for 5 years. It was a big change, but at the same time I was excited. I hadn’t even worked a day as a nurse yet and I was a nurse at the camp I went to growing up. Luckily we had a great and experienced team that I got to learn from. The experience I gained working at this camp showed me what I really wanted to do.
After working a year as a nurse, I saw an opportunity late one night at work. A job application for the job I ultimately wanted, a diabetes educator, just happened to come across my computer screen. I applied and eventually got the job.
I owe most of that to the wonderful people at the camp who had taught me so much and shown me where my passion lied. Now I get to spend every day doing what I love and impacting the lives of so many who need it.
I still attend the camp as often as I can. With multiple sessions every summer, I get to expand my reach and touch the lives of many people with diabetes.
2014 is the first year of hopefully many in which we have an adult camp for those with type I diabetes. I look forward to it as an opportunity to renew myself in the world I love with those people who I hold so dear to me.