But do we?
When you think of a diabetes camp, do you have the slightest idea how much work goes into planning one of these incredible programs of outreach? If you think it’s just loads of fun where once an hour they get together to check blood sugars…….well….you would be grossly mistaken.
I spent some time recently with the directors of camps from almost twenty different countries bought together by the Diabetes Education & Camping Association (DECA). Many were people with diabetes and/or parents. One woman, Jacqui from New Zealand, touched my heart as she spoke of her child diagnosed with T1D while in DKA. She realized that she needed to do more and gives much of her time into the ‘camping world’. Her passion drives a country. Everyone had/has a story
As they shared their songs from the different camps in the language of their homelands; people from Japan, Brazil and Portugal were just as excited to learn songs from Haiti, Paraguay, and Fiji. You would think this ‘language divide’ would keep these groups apart from each other and, yet, is the commonality of diabetes and being children that over-rides everything else.
Their thirst for more knowledge is only surpassed by what they already know. The art of presenting, staff training, fund-raising, the newest in diabetes ‘stuff’, how to ‘positively’ impact a child’s diabetes management, and so much more; and all taught and learned……. to what end? So your child….YOUR CHILD has the best possible experience when they attend camp.
But DO NOT be mistaken, this is not merely planning for camps of the elite and the rich, this is planning for camps everywhere. How to create a camp in Haiti, like Pam is doing, with complete devotion and with enough energy to fuel a generator. When you speak to her, the focus is razor-sharp surpassed by her heart’s dedication. The commonality of all in this group is that diabetes will just not do; not do as much in Argentina as in Brazil as in Tanzania as in New Jersey. This group chooses to “Not do Nothing’, and they are masters.
Diabetes and the destruction that can be caused physically as well as emotionally is the universal language of this group. And even more is the lesson how to live a positive and a healthy life with diabetes for everyone in every country and THAT is the universal goal of this group.
I could not help but think, as I observed, that each of these camps is an entity on to itself. They have to raise funds for their camp, they have to stand alone. Across the globe, literally, they apply for grants and seek donations to help keep them in operation. And, yet, here they are in one room. The successful ones showing how and why they are successful for the others to learn. The ones less successful (for now) asking keen and powerful questions to better themselves.
The give-and-take is flawless. For so long powerful fundraising has been existing and there was an “oh sure, camps are important” attitude; as an after thought almost……perhaps. What I witnessed was actually something that everyone needs to know; this group has mastered, absolutely mastered; the common denominator for the world.
For all organizations to learn that joining together for a common cause, our children, trumps everything else. And no one group is better at taking absolute and separate entities that could actually be considered competitive in the way they seek money and seek involvement; then what I saw in DECA’s conference this last weekend. And I have been around a long time.
Perhaps that ‘after thought’ group and their process needs to become the template for many, many others. They have much to teach to not only their own members, but to the world around them……..if only the choice would be made by those outside this incredible group, to listen. What I do know, without a shred of doubt is that DECA would be willing to share like no other. They are not interested in their own existence or even survival as much as they are spending every second of their spare time…………..learning how to reach our kids.
If the focus is on our kids and/or those living with diabetes, they believe all else will follow and they have been living this way for years…….maybe it’s about time many more listen to those who have a proven formula of the success in sharing ideas and ideals as colleagues; and not staying isolated in silos as competitors.
“Day-O” or the ‘Banana Boat Song” is not only one of the most known camping songs of all time but the song has a purpose; to teach commonality, togetherness, team spirit, and provide lifetime memories to those who share in the activity. Maybe our diabetes community needs to be taught to sing together more often. The commonality is always and fiercely our children; DECA knows that, their camps know that……..do the rest of us?
I am a diabetes dad.
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