Diabetes Education at Camp

Do campers learn about diabetes at Camp?

Diabetes education is a large part of the treatment campers receive at camp. Just being with other children their own age with diabetes and following the standard routines of Camp help children learn about appropriate diabetes management.

Prior to camp campers and their parents fill out surveys about the campers' independence levels with shots, insulin pens and pumps. Some education is formal, such as classes by the student nurses and small group talks for the older campers by the doctors and nurses from the dispensary.

The topics of the talks from the doctors and nurses are based on needs identified during conversations with campers. Older campers ask different questions than younger campers. Older campers with pumps are used to more autonomy with their insulin boluses and can be frustrated by not giving their own boluses when high. The effects of activity on blood sugar levels and insulin needs is reviewed individually as the topic comes up and then a class is given to the campers ages 9 to 12 to explain the effects of exercise on diabetes management.  Watching for patterns with blood sugars is stressed with these older campers. Campers express appreciation for having the time with the dispensary staff to learn, ask questions and be treated as responsible people.

Are there formal diabetes classes given during the Camp sessions?

The class about exercise and diabetes management this year was taught by the Case Western nursing students as part of their school research requirement. All campers ages 9 to 12 were given a pre-test at check-in prior to the teaching. During camp, two 15 minute sessions were taught – one about aerobic exercise and one about anaerobic exercise, and how each type of activity effects blood sugars and insulin use. The campers actively participated in the lessons and preliminary analysis of post-tests (given on the last day of camp) revealed that learning did occur.

Education sessions vary from season to season, but the staff capitalizes on "teachable moments" to help each individual camper  build on his/her understanding about the disease and improve self-care.

Education Goals

The camp setting is an optimal environment for campers to gain valuable knowledge and skills to improve their diabetes management. Diabetes education is integrated in all Camp programming and takes advantage of many “teachable moments.”   Programs may include expert speakers or group discussion facilitators talking about age-appropriate topics, educational games or skits, or one-on-one learning opportunities between a camper and a member of the counseling or dispensary staff. 

The primary educational goals of Camp Ho Mita Koda result in the development of lifelong wellness habits. Camp Ho Mita Koda strives to support, encourage and teach diabetes management skills in a fun, interactive and age-appropriate manner.  Our diabetes education goals at Camp are:

  • Campers will learn new skills and reinforce existing knowledge through planned participatory activities, observation, and individual and group instruction. Such activities may include swimming, boating, hiking, archery, climbing, and team building.
  • Nutrition/diabetes education will be offered as an elective activity at least one activity period each day.
  • Carb counting will be taught and reinforced at all meals and snacks. Grams of carbs will be used to determine overall carb servings.
  • Campers will develop a sense of environmental awareness through interaction with the natural environment.
  • Campers will improve self confidence, interpersonal skills, and conflict resolution skills through the camp experience.

Learning Needs

The learning needs the parents reported were very similar to the needs the children reported. Some additional concerns for teaching the parents requested were related to following more careful control, counting carbs, accurately reporting blood sugar numbers and food eaten. The structure of camp encourages honesty as others are checking blood sugar numbers and insulin given. The importance of meals on a schedule and insulin and testing are reinforced by the whole camp doing the same thing at the same time daily.

While camp is intended to be a fun experience for campers, by its very nature it is a learning experience as well. The dispensary staff embraces the educational aspect of medical care for the campers. It is woven into the day in multiple teachable moments.  

CDC - World Diabetes Day - Diabetes DDT


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CDC - World Diabetes Day - Diabetes DDT


Camp Ho Mita Koda

Diabetes Partnership of Cleveland

3601 S. Green Rd., #100
Beachwood, OH 44122
Phone: 216-591-0800 | Fax: 216-591-0320



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