Diabetic campers learn life lessons

By Vallery Brown Modified: August 2, 2008 at 12:20 am •  Published: August 2, 2008
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DAVIS — As the temperature rises, Oklahoma kids pack their bags and head to summer camp, where activities include archery, swimming, horseback riding and counting carbs.

At Camp Endres, insulin pumps are as common as bug bites and swimsuits.

Endres is a camp for youth ages 8 to 17 who have Type I diabetes

In late July, they converge on the YMCA's Camp Classen in Davis to learn how to manage and care for their disease. And to cut loose for awhile.

"Attitude is everything when it comes to diabetes management,” said camp director Kim Boaz Wilson. "Children often feel defeated or their self-worth isn't what is should be. Powerlessness, isolation and depression go away as children learn not only how to live with diabetes, but that other people their age have it, too.”

Staff share kids' disease
Wilson knows firsthand the ups and downs of life with diabetes. Not only has she lived with it for 35 years, but she is a nurse and certified diabetes instructor, making her uniquely qualified to help children learn to live with the disease.

"Camp changes your views of what you can do and what you can achieve,” said counselor and former camper Bill Cash of Edmond. "It doesn't have to be a handicap.”

The views from nearly every point at Camp Endres prove his point.

Dr. Hal Scofield, medical director of Camp Endres and resident at OU Health Science Center, said most of what goes on at Endres is like other camps. While typical camp activities are not in short supply, neither is medical staff. Every day at least 25 dieticians, doctors, nurses and social workers are on site to assist the campers and counselors.

"It's a way to manage their diabetes under controlled circumstances,” Scofield said. It's also an opportunity for medical interns and professionals to get experience treating and managing diabetes.

Camp aids mom, son
Camp nurse Teresa Barbatos of Ponca City is a medical volunteer at the camp. Slideshow: Camp Endres
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Shayna Gibson, 11, enjoys a game of basketball at Camp Endres. Daily activities at the camp are similar to other summer camps, but insulin rounds and blood sugar checks are as common as pickup games of basketball. By PAUL HELLSTERN, The Oklahoman

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