Jordan Allen, The Town Talk | firstname.lastname@example.org
During the month of July, nearly 200 children from across the state met at the Louisiana Lions Camp in Anacoco to attend Camp Victory — a week-long summer camp for kids who have type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Camp Victory, hosted by the American Diabetes Association and the Louisiana Lions Club, began more than 30 years ago and is conducted over a 2-week span each year — the first week of camp is open to children ages 6-11, and the second week is for ages 11-14.
“Camp Victory is set up to be just like any other summer camp for kids, because they come here and do lots of outdoor activities, crafts, and sports. However, because the kids here all have diabetes — and many have additional allergies and medical problems as well — they require a little extra care,” said Dr. Gary Field, an endocrinologist from Baton Rouge and the medical director of the camp.
The accredited camp is provided at no-cost to the children, and all of the medical supplies — including insulin, medications and testing supplies — are donated.
“In addition to doing camp activities, our kids have to worry about their blood sugar levels. As a result of that, our camp staff consists of trained medical and health professionals who can effectively assess and treat that child, if needed,” said Field, who suffers from diabetes himself. “Our counselors — many of them have diabetes and have been through the camp also — have been trained to recognize a rise or drop in blood sugar levels, based on the child’s behaviors or appearance.”
The staff checks each child’s blood sugar levels four times a day, to make appropriate adjustments to their medications and food.
Additionally, the campers learn how to count carbohydrates, properly choose the foods that they eat based on their levels, and how to properly use their insulin pins and pumps.
With nearly a one-to-one ratio of campers and medical staff, parents can have peace of mind knowing that their child is safe and provided for at the camp.
“Planning for the camp is a long process, but it’s worth every minute of work because it means so much to the kids and the parents,” said Treva Lincoln, the state representative for American Diabetes Association. “It’s a lot more impactful than just the one week of camp — it’s something that kids hold on to for years. We’re improving their lives by providing them the opportunity to come here, and it’s wonderful to see them thrive.”
“The greatest thing about Camp Victory is the amount of education that we can provide to these kids in a five-day span. Some of them come here after being recently diagnosed with diabetes, so by the time they leave camp they’re able to better take care of themselves,” said Ray Cecil, the executive director of Lion’s Club camps in the state.
Cecil plans and directs multiple camps each summer, and has seen first-hand how his working partnership with the American Diabetes Association is making a positive impact in children’s lives.
“Everything we do here is to ensure that this camp is safe for these children, so that they can enjoy it the same way anyone else would. Camp Victory provides a fun, unique way to educate children on the different ways to take care of themselves,” said Cecil. “That’s what makes it so special.”