Camp Conrad-Chinnock has been in operation for more than 50 years. It was started by Dr. Chinnock who worked at Loma Linda hospital with children with diabetes. He wanted to take them to summer camp and was told that it is too dangerous. He didn't listen, thank goodness.
We made our first trip to there a week ago Friday. We arrived just before lunch and found out we would be cabin mates with our friends who have been with us every step of the way on our journey so far. The cabins are very nice. Each family has there own "room" with a curtain for a door. In the middle of the cabin is a shared bathroom. Ours was the first session with the bathrooms in the cabins. I think we came at just the right time :) No hiking to the bathrooms in the middle of the night for us!
|Our cabin is the one a little further away in the picture.|
I wish I could explain better how great this place was. It is so much more than just a camp. It gave us all a sense of peace and belonging. Julia made a friend there who has diabetes too and she loved it. I could just see the joy in her when she would run off to play with her.
|Julia & her new friend|
Most of the time when we wold have activities the kids would go off with the counselors to play camp games (Sharks & Minnows, Capture the Flag, Water Olympics, etc.) and the adults would have different sessions. One of my favorites was one they called "Meet the Experts." The experts were staff members who are Type 1. They talked about what it was like growing up with Type 1, how their parents helped or hurt them in learning how to manage their own care, and where they are now with their diabetes. It was great to be able to hear their open and honest perspective. We had sessions with the medical staff, nutritionist and the camp director, Rocky Wilson. One session with Rocky we met separately first moms and then later in the day the dads got their turn. The women's circle was amazing, we shared our feelings with no judgement only acceptance. We talked about our struggles and frustrations. We learned about surrender and scheduling time for ourselves. We laughed, we cried and we understood each other.
Not all the time at camp was scheduled. We had family free time each day. During that time, there were all kinds of activities to do. Arts and crafts, archery, ropes course, rock wall, pool and the lodge which was Joe's favorite place to go. It had a pool table, ping pong, foosball table a basketball game and more.
One of the other great things on a practical level was the meals. Not only was all the food good, the carb information was written on a white board for every meal and snack. Everything served was included serving size and carbs. Not having to cook or do dishes was a nice break too.
The funny thing is it is a diabetes camp and on some levels, diabetes was the last thing on our minds. The staff all carry fanny packs with supplies for checking blood sugar and low snacks. So even when Julia was away from me I knew she was okay. She got to be independent and go where she wanted without me hovering over her. (It took both of us a little while to adjust to this). She also liked to have the staff check her blood sugar instead of me or Bubba.
There were campfires every night with silly songs and skits. We hiked a mile and back to Jenks Lake where the kids fished and canoed. I got to see a demonstration on Diabetes Alert Dogs which was amazing! We got screened for TrialNet. We made dream catchers. We ate sno cones and root beer floats. We stayed up late. We got really dirty. All in all it was an amazing four days that I will treasure forever.