By Jaime Caldwell
When you dropped your child off at Type 1 Diabetes camp with Diabetes Solutions of Oklahoma (DSOK), they spent a week of long summer days bonding with fellow campers. At the last day of camp there were plenty of hugs, tears, and promises to stay in touch; promises that nothing would break that promise.
Then they went back to a busy class schedule, homework and extracurricular activities.
It’s important to encourage these kids to keep in touch because friends, like many people, are part of the diabetes management puzzle. Each piece of the puzzle is important whether you are a parent, caregiver, medical staff, or the child.
I will never forget my son’s first year he attended camp. He didn’t want to go. In fact, he was adamant that he was perfectly fine sofa surfing his summer vacation away. He had only been diagnosed seven months prior. We knew there was only one other student with type 1 at his school but we didn’t know who it was. T1D doesn’t run in our family, so he didn’t have anyone to relate to. I put the Camp Endres brochure in his hand and pleaded with him about how valuable the opportunity could be.
Two years later I can tell you that sending him to camp was the best thing that has ever happened to him. The bond he has formed with friends and the staff has given him a community of lifelong friends, not to mention in depth diabetes education. I have seen his confidence soar and his ability to care for himself improve.
What a great support system DSOK has provided to our children! DSOK lays the ground work for your child, parents and caregivers. Then they take the next step of making the arrangements to keep up communications. But in the end it is up to our kids to keep up with their friendships.
My son has had many adventures meeting up with camp friends over the last few years, adventures and friendships that would never have existed if he wouldn’t have stepped out of his comfort zone and attended camp. He has seen several plays, watched many movies, met friends at the mall, and visited the fair. He’s seen Disney on Ice, attended church, participated in a 5K Zombie run, and most recently met friends at Frontier City to walk the Trail of Fears.
My hope is to stir other parents and caregivers to take a few minutes and reach out to your child. Encourage them to plan a time to stay in contact with camp friends. These awesome kiddos give each other so much inspiration! I should also note that incorporating personal friendships into your child’s group of T1D friends should also be encouraged. The more friends the better!
So how can you encourage your child to stay in touch with their diabesties?
In addition to calling, texting, and emailing here are some (teenager approved so we know they are hip) suggestions:
1) Instagram – Create a group chat by posting a picture to a direct message and choosing one or multiple recipients. It is easy and quick! Recipients can comment on the post and the group chat begins…
2) Facebook – Simple to use and is a good tool to stay in the loop with friends.
3) Skype – If your child is young and not quite ready for a cell phone, Instagram, or Facebook, this is a fun way to video chat online. Parents you can download the free app on your smartphone or use a computer that is equipped with a webcam and let your child have some face time with friends. Skype is a great alternative to the telephone if you don’t have an unlimited long distance plan. Skype does not charge you for its video chat service. My teen uses Skype daily!
In closing, I encourage your child to utilize the referenced tools. But remember that social media doesn’t replace getting outside and meeting up with friends in person. No matter how your kids stay in touch, it is important to try and hold on to those friendships that were created over the summer. Summer camp creates not only lasting memories, but lasting relationships as well.