Oldest Boy is at diabetes camp this week. We began attending family camp the summer of 2003, shortly after he was diagnosed with type 1. He was five-years-old and camp helped us all realize there's life after diagnosis -- just make sure you have a glucometer, syringes, insulin and glucose tabs at all times. [Now it's infusion sites, reservoirs and IV prep pads for his insulin pump.] We returned to family camp the next three summers. Oldest Boy "graduated" from family camp the summer before he began third grade. He was officially old enough to attend future camps without his parents. He was eight.
Oldest Boy is eleven now and this is the first year he chose to attend the six-day, five-night camp. He went to a winter camp for diabetics when he was ten and didn't have the greatest experience. Some of the counselors were a little rough around the edges, used foul language and discussed inappropriate topics in front of the young campers. Oldest Boy said he asked them to stop, but it left a bad taste in his mouth. I'm proud of him.
After discussions with the camp director resulted in promises of better counselor training, and a commitment from a school friend to join him, Oldest Boy was ready to give summer camp a try. He's older now, equipped with a little more self confidence, and understands if goofy, teenage counselors choose to act stupid... he can tell someone and choose to walk away and do his own thing. Ironically, it's not Oldest Boy's diabetes care and management that he, his father, and I have had concerns about regarding the decision to go to camp. It's exposure to older kids who don't realize that you can't unring a bell in the mind of a child.
I left Oldest Boy at camp on Sunday. He allowed me to help him carry his things to his cabin before we checked-in with the doctor, dietitian, and other people with clipboards. His friend had arrived at camp before we did which was a huge relief to Oldest Boy.
I was conflicted as I left. I knew he was in good hands and that experiences like this are important for him, but I worried about the insulin reaction he'd had the night prior [He came to our room sweaty and shaking in the middle of the night. His blood sugar was 35]. I worried he'd get homesick. I worried the counselor with the stretched earlobes [gauging, I think it's called] and the five o'clock shadow would have porn under his mattress, as I simultaneously realized the clean-shaven, collared-shirt wearing counselor was just as likely to have porn... and blow.
I quit torturing myself, received my farewell hug and kiss from Oldest Boy and watched as he and his friend walked away, happy to simply be boys... at camp.