Sunday, November 06, 2005

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!

18 Comments:

At November 06, 2005 11:23 PM, Anonymous Kassie said...

Working at Clara Barton Camp was one of the most significant experiences of my life, and I'm proud to be one of the thousands of "Barton Girls" living well with diabetes.

I am so grateful to the amazing Barton women I worked with, whose leadership inspired me and whose examples I have followed in life, work, and diabetes. And I'm grateful to my campers (who are now running the place!) for showing me their courage and for teaching me patience. And I'm even grateful to those famous Barton/Joslin dances, where I met my husband.

I'm actually stopping at camp this week (all the way from Virginia!)to see/photograph the bench that my family donated in honor of my grandmother. Your post has put me in exactly the right frame of mind for such a visit.

 
At November 07, 2005 8:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a Barton girl from '83-'91ish, and also remember the days of pee pots and testing in the lab only and those darned lab bathrooms with the really low shower heads and major lack of hot water. Who could ask for more?

Through almost every phase of my life with D, Barton has had a huge impact. I started at Barton six weeks after diagnosis and the nurses at Barton taught me to do my shots at 90 degrees instead of 45. SO much easier! My Barton buddies helped me through all the pitfalls of high school and college, convinced me to get on a pump (and out of many D slumps) and probably most importantly, were there for me while I went through two pregnancies and became the proud "Sugar Mama" of my wonderful babies. The girls at Barton camp taught me that I *can* do anything.

Great post, Kerri. Glad you had a chance to visit and see the new cabins ... with BATHROOMS! ;)

Meredith

 
At November 07, 2005 10:26 AM, Blogger melissa said...

I didn't go to Barton but have great memories of a camp here in Ohio Camp Ho Mita Koda which means "welcome my friend" "Camp Ho" as we called was the place where it was almost like diabetes disappeared since everyone who attended had it.

I lived all year for camp where I felt like I actually fit in. I had a place. When I was younger the sessions ran 3 weeks but as I hit my teens the sessions were cut back to 2 weeks & I did all that I could to stay another session.

It's interesting that you posted about camp Kerri, because just the other day I was telling my husband that it would be cool if there were a diabetes camp for adults. Where there were medical staff, & meals planned out for you etc. & of course tons of bonding with other people who have diabetes. I imagine it as a vacation of sorts from diabetes (or as close to it as possible)....maybe someday.

By the way my husband told me I was dreaming and it was not likely to happen.

 
At November 07, 2005 1:05 PM, Blogger Andrea said...

Hey Kerri,

Sounds like a great experience. I'm sure you learned a lot from it and had a lot of fun too. It's nice that you were able to go somewhere where others understand what it's like for you and can relate. I almost wish they had something available for us adults, like the other poster mentioned. However, being that I'm kind of on the shy side, I don't know that I would be able to really let my guard down and be myself. It takes time for me to do that. I do think it's a great thing for kids & adolescents with diabetes and for the parents as well... I'm sure many come away from it thinking that it was one of the best things they could do for their kids.

I also wanted to thank you for your comment on my blog. I'm so glad that people are beginning to visit and check it out and I appreciate any feedback. i hope you don't mind that I added your blog to my "links" section. Hopefully, you will be getting more visitors yourself now :)

 
At November 07, 2005 1:26 PM, Blogger julia said...

Olivia is a Barton girl, complete with Barton Butt shorts.

What a great post, Kerri. I love Barton. I love the confidence it's given my daughter, I love that she's not alone, I love that they GET it.

When I win the lottery, they will get a signigicant portion of my winnings.

 
At November 07, 2005 1:30 PM, Anonymous Nicole said...

Hey Kerri --

I think you already know I'm a Barton girl. I love that those who've been to Barton have their own personal versions of the same set of memories.

My first summer at camp, Melissa O. ran like a cheetah straight into the pond for swim test -- and came out with a leech on her. There was NO way, I thought, I'd ever swim in that pond. But many years later, after the pond had been "cleaned," I swam a torch across it as a counselor to light the final campfire. I thought then, how far I've come. I still think of that moment -- and of how far I've come.

There was the time as a CIT, that my cabinmates and I set up one of the Program Director's entire cabin bedroom sets on the floating raft and some of the braver CITs pushed it out into the middle...

There was that moment when it dawned on me -- just a few hours into my first camp experience -- wow, EVERYONE here has diabetes. I don't think I can remember feeling more relieved...

There were the Barton/Joslin dances and my first kiss from a Joslin boy. And finding out in my adult life that, like the love of my life, that Joslin boy is an artist, writer, and musician... And someone I still genuinely like.

Oh, and then there are these years since camp. When I have been able to rely on counsel, comfort, and love from my Barton friends. They are the people I call or write when I've had an extraordinarily bad day or week... And when I just hate this disease so much I can taste it...

For some of us Barton is the most amazing place on earth, for others it's a bridge to give them confidence to head on to a "regular" camp, but always -- it's a special place that we never, ever forget...

 
At November 07, 2005 8:28 PM, Anonymous Brooke said...

Kerri Morrone-

Wow, it has been years since we last talked! I often wondered where you ended up, and where your life lead you. From what I have read, it does seem like you are doing well. And, you are still a very talented writer! I laugh as I think back to all of those memories. The most ironic thing about your blog is the infamous Joslin boy that you kissed actually works at Joslin in the facilities department. And, I also know that he has gone on a date with one of my other Barton friends (the current assistant camp director at CBC). It's such a small world! I would love to write more and catch up with you. So, please send me an e-mail: BBev1997@aol.com.

Smile,
Brooke

 
At December 05, 2005 3:04 AM, Blogger bethany said...

lol the feelings that just rushed back to me when i read that entry. i just started a blog account on here. my name is bethany. i was a counselor for the first time at cbc this past summer. i've never actually went to camp there but oh how i loved it. it was a feeling that i (before setting foot @ cbc) have never experienced before. i dragged my non-diabetic best friend with me to be a counselor and she fell in love with the camp. she now has an amazing understanding of what i go through ... the camp is heaven ... and it makes sense why everyone who has been there says ... "Without this piece of heaven, I would have never found you"

 
At March 31, 2006 1:29 PM, Blogger beth said...

I was a Barton girl myself in about 93-96ish. That place has taught me a-lot about camping and having a good time and that diabetes does not have to run myself. I recently got my pump because of the camp. You always miss the campers after. I still have all of my awards and even the signature books I made each year. The only regret I have is not keeping in contact with that after.

 
At May 28, 2006 8:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been missing my CBC days for a while now. I was a camper from 1984 until 1996 and then a CIT and JC. When I went away to college, I was unable to make it back up to N. Oxford from Mississippi any more due to financial constraints. I don't think I could have made it here in this part of the world if I hadn't had the chance to go to CBC.

 
At February 15, 2007 7:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At August 17, 2008 9:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not all joslin boys are icky.

 
At November 25, 2008 9:19 PM, Anonymous cbclover said...

I am only 10. I have been to camp 2 times. it is the coolest, most bestest place on earth. I LOVE CBC

 
At April 21, 2009 7:40 PM, Blogger peace<3slin. said...

I'm 15 and this will be my 8th summer at CBC - LIT summer! I love it so much and I couldn't help but smile and laugh as I read this - it truly is the best thing my parents ever did for me, sending me to CBC. It's such a magical place. I was thinking last night how there are so many camps that people go to and love, but no place compares to Barton.

 
At June 05, 2009 12:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a current staff member at Barton, this will be my 11th summer and I loved your blog on it. It seems like it doesn't matter when you were a camper there, the experience and the learning you walk away with are the same. It's nice to see grown, successful Barton girls doing things like you. Your diabetes blog is awesome!

 
At July 10, 2009 5:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am here right NOW. first summer as a counselor. your blog is the reason i am here, the reason i found out about this place. barton is amazing. there is so much barton pride, it is wonderful. i don't feel so alone, i'm so happy here. CBC <3

 
At January 05, 2010 8:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this will be my 8th summer at this heaven on earth. and its my LIT year and i personally cant wait. Every ever year when the letter comes in with the camp dates i start the count down. Cbc gave me so many memories and so many friends/sisters. I live down the road(about 20minutes)and i sometimes make my dad drive me out there when im upset about diabetes. we sit in the parking lot, sometimes i cry sometimes we just sit there in silence but some how it helps. CBC is a big part of my life in fact. i will be the first camper to have her sweet 16 in the dinning hall next week. summers will come and go and soon i wont be ale to make it back to cbc and just be one of the counslers/campers left in the ashes of closing campfire but cbc will always be in my heart. thank you cbc <3

 
At August 14, 2013 6:56 PM, Anonymous Anna said...

Kerri-
I"m so glad to know that we all feel the same. As an alumni, we say the word camp and a moment of unspoken understanding lowers the tension in our shoulders as we know. Its normal camp is what is our normal. Thanks for sharing your experience so many of us have had!

 

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