P.E.I., N.B. close diabetes camps for kids

Diabetes Canada is closing a popular camp on P.E.I. for Island children with Type 1 diabetes, along with their summer camp in neighbouring New Brunswick.

'A lot of parents are very upset'

Camp Red Fox in Canoe Cove, P.E.I., has been helping kids manage their Type 1 diabetes for years. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

Diabetes Canada is closing a popular camp on P.E.I. for Island children with Type 1 diabetes, along with their summer camp in neighbouring New Brunswick.

Camp Red Fox in Canoe Cove, P.E.I., helped children ages seven to 14  learn how to manage their disease. They also made crafts, played games and built campfires. Camp Dia-Best at Green Hill Lake, N.B, will also close after 50 years. 

Anthony Millar of Tyne Valley, a former camper who became an instructor and fundraiser for the camp, said he was frustrated and upset when he heard the camp was closing.

"A lot of times kids feel they are the only ones around who have it, so it's really nice for them to meet other kids on P.E.I. that live with the same disease," Millar said. 

The campers also shared tips for diabetes management and made lifelong friendships, he said. 

'Better' service

Staff and campers were notified last Friday that camps would close in P.E.I. and New Brunswick, while one in Barss Corner, N.S, would remain open. Diabetes Canada calls it a merger. 

Diabetes Canada offers camps across Canada. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"In order to maximize the efficiency, effectiveness and long-term sustainability of the D-Camps program, we have made the decision to streamline our delivery of services," said Diabetes Canada in an emailed statement to CBC News. 

"While we appreciate that this decision may be met with some challenges, we believe that over the long run this new approach will allow us to provide a better and enriching service," it said, noting donor dollars are "limited."

The P.E.I. camp served 53 campers last year. 

Free transportation to N.S.

Diabetes Canada will offer free transportation from New Brunswick and P.E.I., it said in its release, and will continue to offer financial assistance.

Millar said the camp is designed for young children, and attending camp four to six hours' drive away in Nova Scotia is worrisome for parents, especially for children with such a serious medical condition.

"A lot of parents are very upset," he said.

An online petition has been started to keep Camp Red Fox open. It has 192 supporters as of publication time.  

With files from CBC Radio: Island Morning