We were recently attending a family camp for a few days (not diabetes related). One of the counselors noticed my CGM on the back of my arm and asked politely if I had Type 1. It opened up a conversation about her experience serving as a camp counselor in one of the local diabetes camps. After some chit-chat about her experience,
ME: "I bet you have all sorts of experience with CGMs"
Counselor: "Not really. They encourage campers not to bring theirs."
Me: "Say what?"
Counselor: "Yeah, they really don’t want campers thinking about having to manage their bg while at camp."
Me (as politely as possible): That’s insane.
It reminded me of @Chris’s recent struggle with erratic BG following his son’s time at camp. I completely understand camp being a place where campers can find community in an otherwise lonely world. I also understand temporarily handing over management to well-trained medical professionals (though knowing one of those locally, I’d be loathe to send a child of mine to her care). Still, why in the world would those professionals not want access to CGMs to make their job easier?
I can’t speak for all camps, but the purpose of the one my son goes to is to “remove” diabetes decisions from the kids for a week. The first year of diagnosis, this was a really helpful week. This year, seeing his diabetic friends was awesome, but he didn’t really enjoy not being in control of his diabetes treatment.
This year the camp allowed the campers to use CGM’s (they had banned them previously), but only with the receiver (no cell phones allowed).
The reason they don’t want them, is the doctors aren’t going to use them. The protocol at the camp is to bg test all of the campers 5 times per day, and do the same thing with every camper (up to 60 kids). The camp protocol is set up to ensure they have so many carbs to eat, that there is almost no way possible to be low. i.e. three meals that are minimally covered with insulin followed by three uncovered snacks a day, and the staff tries to push for 30g of carbs at many of these snacks. Using this “protocol” it is virtually assured that no dangerous lows will occur. It is also virtually assured that every camper will run quite high. The last day of camp, my son had to beg for extra insulin because he had a baseball game following camp and he knew he would be a mess if he came in at 300.
Not saying this is why all camps ban CGM’s, but it is definitely why the one near us does. Also, both my son and my wife have agreed that trading a week of highs and the roller-coaster following is worth the camaraderie of camp for my son.
I should have Cody come on and give a few anecdotes about the “control” many of his camper friends exert in their daily lives. It would be eye opening, and sad. So many kids not taking control of their disease…It won’t end well.
The diabetes camp where my son goes also discourages CGMs. We were very reluctant for the obvious reasons that everyone is listing in this thread. In the end, we agreed that he would wear his CGM and his receiver, but be subject to the regular camp protocol. This is what happened:
my son ran somewhat low a good part of the time, because doing physical activities all the time reduced his basal needs.
it was difficult for him to carry his receiver everywhere because of outdoor and water activities that often were incompatible
the protocol allows us to specify when he should be treated for a high. We listed the high limit as 125 for camp for treatment.
kids were checked once at night, unless they went to bed below 100, in which case they were checked at least twice, and depending upon circumstances. Because he ran low, he was often on “night watch” and got checked multiple times.
over camp week, he woke up high once, and it was a mild high (around 140), so the low frequency of testing during the night did not cost him anything in terms of night highs.
he ran high a couple of times during the day (in the 180 to 200). This probably cost him a few extra hours of being high than he would not have had at home.
But, in the end, I find, to my surprise, that the price to pay for this week of camp is surprisingly low (in terms of highs). I think the reason is that the activities keep them running fairly low. In our case it worked out, despite my strong initial doubts (I used much stronger words when I found out about the CGM policy).
My son loved D camp. He badly wants to do it again next year. The concept of D camp, focused on activities all along, where treating diabetes is a part of life but not a focus of camp, and where you are a normal camper with nothing unusual about you, is a great concept for our kids.
Thanks for these perspectives, guys. It is really helpful to hear from parents who have benefited from it and would continue to choose it, despite the drawbacks. I guess there’s no easy replacement for community, even when it’s imperfect. I remain startled by the concept of not relying on critical datapoints for treatment, but I trust you both, and your perspective helps provide a fuller picture of the experience. Interesting that they let you set the high parameter at 125, @Michel! That’s encouraging.
I am too. My only point in the comment is that, although the CGM prohibition is really shocking, D camp has such a social dimension that it may transcend the CGM issue as it did for my boy. It is the only time of the year when he is just a normal kid.