Sunday, July 24, 2011

Camp Conrad-Chinnock

It's funny while we were away at camp, I had all of these posts swirling in my head and now that I am home I am having trouble putting it all into words.

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.
After settling into our cabin, the weekend began.  I have written previously on my blog how much I appreciate the DOC (Diabetes Online Community) because it is a way to connect with people who "get it."  Camp was the DOC in real life.  I was surrounded by people who get it.  Parents, Camp Staff, and kids who all understand Type 1 diabetes and what it means to live with Type 1 diabetes every day.

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
At one point we broke into groups, kids without diabetes, kids with diabetes & parents.  We were talking about diabetes and how we felt about it.  The kids' groups made posters and would share them with the group when they returned.  Julia wrote she liked diabetes because she got to come to camp and make a new friend.  Joe said he sometimes felt like he wasn't part of the family because we are caring for Julia all the time.  And although it broke my heart to hear him say that, I am glad he felt safe enough to say it.

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.

Camp Pictures

Thursday, July 14, 2011


We are leaving for Diabetes Camp in the morning.  We are heading to Camp Conrad-Chinnock.  Although we have never been to camp before, we are all very excited.  Our friends are going in this same session which will be nice and we are also excited to meet new D-Families.

Julia is very excited about Arts and Crafts.  Joe is looking forward to archery.  I am excited to be surrounded by people who get it.  We are lucky to have such an amazing support system of family and friends but it is impossible to truly understand Type 1 until you live Type 1.

I had planned on blogging more this summer and as it turns out it seems like I have been neglecting to blog.  Suffice it to say we have been having a great summer so far.  Swimming, beach days, BBQs and staying up past our bedtimes have become the norm around here and we are LOVING it.  Although I do miss our routine there is something nice about just enjoying our lazy summer schedule.

I will try to blog more and I promise next time to have pictures from camp as well as our annual Catalina trip that we will be leaving for the day after we return from camp.