Share “Diabetic campers learn life lessons”

By Vallery Brown Modified: August 2, 2008 at 12:20 am •  Published: August 2, 2008
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Sh

e first learned of the program in the early 1990s when her son Josh Davis was diagnosed with diabetes. For a while, both mother and son struggled to understand how the disease would fit into Josh's active life.

"All he wanted was for someone else to take the shot,” said Barbatos, referring to the insulin shots that many diabetics must take to control the glucose levels in their blood. "He wanted to know that it was a part of other people's lives, too.”

Davis, now 26, said at first he cut back on sports and balked at other activities, thinking he needed to follow a stringent plan to keep control of his diabetes. Meanwhile, the carefree days of his childhood sat it out on the sidelines.

Then the mother and son discovered the camp and learned that diabetes doesn't have to be a liability.

"It changed his outlook on life,” Barbatos said.

‘I'm still normal'
Davis learned how to manage his diabetes through the education programs at the camp and, most importantly, he realized he was not alone.

"I learned that I'm still normal,” he said.

For 14 years Davis returned to camp. When he turned 16, he became a camp counselor.

Barbatos took the life experience with her to nursing school, and started volunteering at the camp 10 years ago so she could share what she's learned.

"I wanted to take care of people,” Barbatos said. "The key to taking care of diabetes is education.”

At Camp Endres, the lessons learned come full circle for many. Campers take control of their disease, and many return to pass their knowledge down years later as counselors. Medical professionals, many of whom have diabetes, volunteer their time to educate and look after the health needs of the children. It's as sure a cycle as the seasons that bring summer camp.

Slideshow: Camp Endres



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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