A summer to remember for Waikato children with diabetes
Kayaking, swimming and go karting provided children living with diabetes a memorable kiwi summer when the annual Waikato Diabetes Kids Camp was held at the Kauaeranga Valley Christian Camp in Thames earlier this year. Jo McClintock, a consultant clinical psychologist at Waikato District Health Board and the camp coordinator, looks back at some of the camp highlights.
Thirty children, aged between seven and 12, became aliens, extra-terrestrials, goons, invaders and martians as part of the “Space is the Place” theme at our annual week-long Waikato Diabetes Camp in January 2018.
There was some concern that our activities would be hampered by the storm that was in the area, however, it was perfect for such a camp – not too hot and just overcast enough to prevent sunburn.
We had a few programme rearrangements to account for a wet Thursday, but we could still do everything that was planned over the week. Activities included arts and craft, team challenges, kayaking, swimming, water slide, indoor sports, go karting, rifle range, archery, flying fox and Burma trail (for those over 10 years).
We had a number of new campers this year as well as newly-diagnosed children plus six children who came over from Tauranga. Our groups are developed to include both boys and girls and children who have been to camp before and those who haven’t. This means that we can create a buddy system for those who might be a bit uncertain or shy. We had five campers “graduate” and they were all keen to come back as mentors when they are 16; this is a great example of what kids get out of the camp experience.
This year we had five teenage girls as mentors; two had attended last year – Kate and Lola, and three new mentors – Melina, Francesca and Joyce. Kate, Melina and Francesca had all been campers when they were younger so are able to see the “other side” of the camp experience. They filled their roles with excellence, by modelling diabetes management tasks, encouraging kids to have fun and try everything, and washing all the dishes!! We also had a 10-year anniversary for one of our night nurses – Dee Campbell. Dee is a paediatric respiratory clinical nurse specialist for Waikids. She has been an invaluable support and spoke to the campers about the resilience that they demonstrate.
This year we had paediatric staff from Waikato and Bay of Plenty DHBs, Raukura Hauora o Tainui, NZMS, Intermed, Sanofi, and Karapiro Charters. It is only with this support that we can run our camps the way they do.
Financial sponsorship is key to the ongoing running of these camps and this year we were lucky to have sponsorship from a range of sources including DV Bryant Trust, Waikato WDFF Karamu Trust, Universal Beef Packers, Waipa District Council, Froggies Fruit and Vege, David Henry Tokoroa and Diabetes Help Tauranga. We also received donations of goods from Prolife Foods, Bunnings Te Rapa and Bunnings Hamilton South which all help towards making it a great camp.
Feedback from the adults, mentors, and campers who attended has been very positive. For parents it is the respite, for staff it is seeing children with diabetes manage so well with what they have to do on a day-by-day basis, and for campers it is being one of the majority.
Thanks to Diabetes NZ Waikato branch for supplying this story.