Clara Barton Camp
"We had to treat every low bloodsugar reaction with honey packets, Nabs, and white chalky glucose tabs. You had a choice of what you wanted, but it was always either honey or tabs, with Nabs as the follow up. Two packets of honey or three tabs. Four peanut butter crackers. Standard, every time. And at night, when bedtime snack was handed out, if you had a bloodsugar reading less than 120 mg/dl, you got a double snack coupon. Two snacks. To make sure you didn't go low at night."
"I remember staying up all night with my friend Brooke and laughing our heads off as we talked about the "stupid boys" at the Joslin Camp. I also remember getting hollered at by the counselors for kissing one of those stupid Joslin boys...
The swimming test was terrible for me! I hated the green swim cap I was awarded, though thankful it wasn't a red one. The red caps couldn't go in the deep end. But there was no way I was swimming in the pond. There are definitely snapping turtles in there. Or some kind of Loch Ness Barton Monster lurking about.
We wrote on the cabin walls with markers, as though we were leaving some sort of legacy."
"Over there, we had the campfires. The entire camp staff would go. We'd sing songs. Counselors would talk. It was lovely, sitting out under the starry sky and having only each other. We sang 'Taps' at the end. And then we'd walk back to our cabins in silence.
Almost everyone was diabetic. All the campers. Almost every counselor. The majority of the staff. Testing bloodsugars was normal. Carrying a pack of crackers and some glucose tabs was normal. Taking an injection of insulin every few hours was normal. The counselors would break out the big plastic tubs filled with bloodsugar meters, syringes, bottles of insulin, and assorted reaction treaters and we'd all sit on the bunks and test. Or shoot. Or eat something. And it was normal.
Someone would cry in their sleep because they were low. I once saw a girl have a seizure on the baseball field. We walked to the bathroom in the middle of the night in pairs, employing the buddy system, in case someone got low. Everyone knew if you had ketones because you'd be the girl carrying the gallon of water and the plastic cups. And no one really noticed, because they had all done it, too. I remember sitting under that tree and drinking my gallon of water after my bloodsugar rang in at 600 mg/dl, accompanied by large ketones, on my second day at camp. I didn't feel well at all but I didn't feel alone."
"I was the only diabetic I knew for the longest time. And even though my family was so supportive and my friends treated me no differently than anyone else, I felt isolated. Telling your mother 'I feel so low' or '... so high' is nothing but an empty phrase until you've felt that trembling hypo or sloshed your way to the end of a high. She can't feel it. All she feels is that she wishes it were her and not you. But at camp, at Clara Barton Camp, you say 'I feel low,' and they know. Because to them, it's normal, too.
This was the best thing my parents ever did for me, as their diabetic child. Where I felt normal. Where this whole thing was normal. Away for twelve days, surrounded by girls that I laughed with immediately, but learned to trust enough to cry with, too.
This was my solace.
The most wonderful place in the world.
Any former CBC campers reading this? Please post or send me an email. And if anyone has Brooke B.'s email, send it my way. Thanks!