Type 1 Diabetes
Mission + History
Type 1 Diabetes
Diabetes impairs the body’s ability to convert food into energy. Sugar from digested food would normally be transported throughout the body to be burned as energy. Insulin, a chemical produced by beta cells in the pancreas, provides the transportation system that allows this sugar to be used. In a person with Type I diabetes, the immune system begins to attack the beta cells until virtually all of these insulin-producing cells are destroyed. Once gone, these cells are never replaced. Untreated diabetes can have severe consequences, including organ damage, coma, and even loss of life.
Those affected by Type I diabetes learn to manage their disorder by regularly administering synthetic insulin and monitoring blood sugar levels constantly throughout the day. Food and activity levels must be balanced against insulin dosages to maintain blood sugars within a safe range. The task of managing Type I diabetes is a daunting one that requires an understanding of the mechanics of the disorder, as well as high levels of commitment and motivation. This can be even more difficult for children, who may not understand how or why they have suddenly become so different from their friends and classmates. The temptation simply to ignore the disorder may be great.
Unlike most summer camps, Camp Sweeney offers children much more than just a recreational experience. Young diabetics learn that their disorder does not have to control their lives. With the help of friends, family, and medical support staff, they can master the challenges they face, and live full, normal lives.
Mission + History
Camp Sweeney’s mission is to build a family that can help to support campers through all of the highs and lows of Type 1 diabetes. We start by making the practices of good diabetic control normal, so every child is on a level playing field and no longer feels that diabetes makes them different. Campers are given opportunities to succeed and once they begin to achieve their goals at camp, they develop confidence in their own talents and abilities. We encourage campers to seek the good in themselves and each other, so they place value in virtue rather than the venial attractions of the world. As campers support one another over the course of a session, they build friendships that are based in service – friendships they can count on long past the end of the summer.
NORMALIZATION is crucial in developing a treatment regimen for any child with diabetes. Diabetes management skills, including meal planning, blood sugar control, and insulin regulation, are learned at camp and become a normal part of daily life. Campers are taught to independently manage their diabetes with habits that help combat the long-term effects of type I diabetes.
Camp Sweeney is a lifestyle enhancing program that builds CONFIDENCE and empowers children to have the strength to make healthy lifestyle choices. Camp Sweeney encourages young people to achieve their goals, whether in sports, academics, art, or other talents. Each camper is provided an opportunity to accomplish these goals, inspiring confidence as they go.
Camp Sweeney builds VIRTUE by helping campers recognize value in their own virtues rather than the venial values of the world. Campers are encouraged to seek meaningful qualities in each other and in their everyday actions. Each session, campers select a list of 10 characteristics called our “Code of Living Traits.” This code brings the session together under a common goal: to live a life based on virtues and true friendships.
Camp Sweeney is truly a place where FRIENDSHIP begins and never ends. Many campers have been attending Camp Sweeney since they were five, yet others do not attend until age 17. The consensus is consistent among our campers, “come as long as you can, as often as you can.” Campers learn to serve by doing small helpful things for each other. This atmosphere develops and fosters friendships as campers connect to other young diabetics who share their struggles, goals, and dreams. Although summers will come and go, Camp Sweeney friends are friends forever.
The impact of Camp Sweeney goes far beyond the summer. After just one session at camp, many campers see substantial improvements in their diabetic control. There were 115 campers who attended Camp Sweeney in 2015 and 2016 with an initial Hemoglobin A1c of 8.9 or above. One year after attending camp, their HgA1c had improved by an average of 1.4.
Though the impact on a HgA1c is invisible to most, the change in a camper after a session at Camp Sweeney is impossible not to notice. Campers leave with a renewed sense of strength, self-worth, and determination, secure in the knowledge that they have the inner resources they need to live life to the fullest.
“He comes home with self confidence and more eagerness to take care of himself. I absolutely love what Camp Sweeney does for Type 1 kids.”