Why I Love Diabetes Camp



One of the things I like most about Diabetes Camp is I don’t have to feel embarrassed about my disease around the other kids at camp, or self conscious about my pump.  At all the other summer camps I go to nobody knows what my pump is and the other kids keep asking me questions about it. I like to explain diabetes to people so they will learn (and not do this someone else). But it does get annoying sometimes. Plus people stare at my pump and try to touch it because it looks like a cell phone. I’m 9 years old and I’ve had diabetes since I was 2. I’m always the only kid in the group with diabetes or a pump. At Diabetes Camp, everyone knows what it feels like to have diabetes and everyone supports each other. It makes you feel good to have other people around who know what diabetes feels like.

This summer I was a returning camper, but I didn’t know anyone who was going to be there. Secretly I knew that I was going to have a good time, but I felt a little shy at first. I made four really good new friends at camp: William, Logan, Steven and Juan. We were all on the same sleeping deck, and I knew we would be friends right away, because four boys your own age has got to be a good thing! I had poke wars with William, I learned to Yoyo with Logan, I smack talked with Steven and I played kickball with Juan. We also helped each other with diabetes things. When William was getting his set changed, he was upset. I made him feel better by doing the boogie dance to get him to laugh. Logan helped cheer me up by telling me jokes after my continuous glucose monitor (CGM) sensor went in. That needle always hurts.

Trying new things

I like trying new things at camp. I tried archery for the first time there. This year I hit a water bottle and three balloon targets! And after two years, I finally jumped into the middle of a dark lake, only to find out that it was only 2 feet deep! I could stand in the middle of it because the water levels were low.

I also tried some new diabetes things like putting my CGM and my pump sets on my arm. I discovered that my pump set pulls when I set it down on the table to change my clothes, so I went back to the old way. But my CGM seems more accurate, and it feels better than it did in my backside.

Kip2We played a lot of fun sports and games in our camp groups this year. My favorites this year were kickball and archery. Every day we checked our blood sugar twice during groups and the counselors helped all of us figure out a good decision to make our blood sugar go down or up, depending.   I wear a smart pump, and so I practiced giving myself boluses if I was high. I would show the counselors the number my pump recommended and they would tell me if they thought it was a good idea. Then I could put the number in and press Go. All the counselors were always so supportive about what number you were and how to get you back to a normal level. My favorite counselor was a girl named Taylor. She was so nice, and she smiled a lot. She showed me how her pump worked, because it was different from mine.

Before I went to Diabetes Camp I had a big surge of stage fright. But since the camp talent show, when I saw everybody clapping and cheering even when I made a mistake, now I like being up on stage.   This year I was the lead announcer for a skit William came up with, and I played my trumpet.

I go to Diabetes Camp in the wilderness. There are trees all around the campsite and they’re all at least 100 years old and everything you see is giant trees. We sleep under the stars at night. When I came to camp this year, there was a nest under our deck with three blue eggs in it, and when I left, there was a nest under our deck with three pink baby birds in it. I hope the birds are still there next year.

The camp described in this article is Bearskin Meadow Family Camp in California. Use our Camp Finder Tool for find a diabetes camp in your neck of the woods.


WRITTEN BY Kip Nilsson, age 9, POSTED 07/31/15, UPDATED 09/18/22

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at 24 months of age while living in South East Asia, camper Kip loves traveling to see new places. In fact, he took his first steps on a 747 plane! Now a 5th grader, Kip competes in ski races and poetry contests, and prefers a sleeping bag to a bed. He plans to be a scientist or an explorer when he grows up.