'It makes me feel good': Kids with diabetes have fun at summer camp

The annual Camp Douwanna in Holyrood is running this week until Aug. 4.

Camp Douwanna offers children with diabetes a chance to have fun free of stigma

A medical staff member at Camp Douwanna helps a camper check her blood sugar level. (Eddie Kennedy/CBC)

Connecting with people you have something in common with — particularly something you struggle with — can have a profound impact on how you deal with it.

That's the goal of Diabetes Canada's Camp Douwanna, which takes in children with Type 1 diabetes.

The annual camp in Holyrood is giving children of all ages who suffer from the illness a chance to learn how to manage their condition independently, deal with stigma and, of course, to just have fun in a safe environment. 

'Makes me feel good'

Ryan Stamp, a camper who came back again for his second year, said the experience helps him feel accepted.

Ryan Stamp is back at Camp Douwanna for his second year. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

"It makes me feel good because we all do the same thing," he said.

"Before lunch we all have to check our sugars and it is not just one person doing it. It makes you feel different."

Christian House, a camp counsellor who used to be a camper, said being the only child at school with the restrictions of diabetes can be one of the toughest parts about having the condition.

"It's definitely difficult and you are alienated in an intricate sort of way. You are dealing with an illness that is very rigid in what you have to do," he said.

Christian House was once a camper, but is now a counsellor at Camp Douwanna. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

"Taking needles, changing your sights, what you can and cannot eat is very important, and living as a child, especially in a rural community is hard to keep on track and keep within those guidelines."

Among other activities, the camp has archery, arts and crafts, photography, swimming and other sports.

Fun in a safe environment

Camp Douwanna wants kids to have fun, in an environment where they feel safe.

A medical staffer helps a camper at Camp Douwanna in Holyrood on July 31. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

That's why medical staff are on hand at all times to help campers take insulin, test blood sugar levels and learn to manage their condition independently.

The summer camp continues on Salmonier Line until Aug. 4.