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Olivia's Time at Camp

"Living life with Type One Diabetes (T1D) as child or teenager might sound sad, scary or hard - that is, until you discover the American Diabetes Association (ADA) Camp Midicha! Located in Fenton, Michigan, it is one of the best places to relieve anxiety and stress that could (and sometimes does), come along with a chronic illness. Once you attend Camp Midicha, those negative feelings evaporate and suddenly, you realize that attending this special camp is one of the best parts of having T1D.

For the past decade, I have gone to Camp Midicha each and every summer and I have discovered so many great things about myself and the world around me. While it is hard to narrow down why I love camp so much, a few of my favorite parts of Camp Midicha are the activities, friends/ camp counselors, food, and even learning about my diabetes. If you haven’t attended camp, there are two different kinds of “camping” and as I will share, both are amazingly fun!

First, there is a ‘day camp’ sessions for ages 5-7.  I started with day camp at age five, after having been diagnosed with diabetes for two years. Being young and newly diagnosed did not stop me from having an amazing time with the most awesome people. I would spend the morning through afternoon playing games, swimming, making water snoopers and even doing arts and crafts.  Sometimes, we would form a big circle and play silly games of tag or toss around a frisbee.  What I discovered was that when everyone needed a break to test blood sugar, all of us did it together.  For the first time, I made friends with kids that were managing T1D, just like me!  That feeling of inclusion made me understand that even as a little kid, I was never alone with managing my care.

The second type of camp is an ‘overnight camp’ session for kids ages 8-16.  This is the one that I currently attend as a teenager and I love it. As a side note, once you reach the age of 17, you can choose to become a Counselor-In-Training or remain a camper.  At age 18, you may choose to become a full-fledged Counselor.  Since I have been going to camp, it has become a personal goal of mine to become a Counselor and to help other campers in the same way that I have been helped.  Many of the Camp Midicha Medical Staff are also former campers that graduated into counselors and after college, chose medical careers in Endocrinology.  As adults, they still love coming back to Camp Midicha each summer.

Many people have asked me about what camp is like and the best word to describe it is FUN!  Even leading up to camp week, I have so much fun packing and planning.  My family and I usually leave early on drop-off day and make a stop for lunch along the way.  As we enter the road to the campsite, I roll down my window and peek out with a big grin.  I can always spot a counselor or med staff that I know.  Sometimes, we even park next to a friend from the previous summer.  Entering the main lodge, I am always greeted by the huge ADA Welcome to Camp Midicha sign and many, friendly staff greaters.  Walking through the doorway, I am reminded that I am being welcomed into the coolest place ever! I know that for one week, I am going to have the best time of my life.

Daily camp activities are numerous but I have tried swimming and water games, archery, arts and crafts, mountain biking, high ropes course, zip-line and many more! Some activities are offered specifically for the age of the camp group that you’re in, but either way, I have enjoyed everything. The food is still one of my favorite parts- sun butter anyone???! Even if you have allergies or other diagnoses, you can still have a great time at Camp Midicha! With a variety of foods, and delicious snacks, it makes it the best week ever! When I was newly diagnosed with T1D, the learning and teaching was so fun and educational. Finding out hacks and cool ways to manage your Type One Diabetes from other campers helps so much! We even share funny and embarrassing stories and by the end of the week, I feel more confident in helping with my own care.

Most importantly, I have made many long-lasting friendships at Camp Midicha and we even keep in touch throughout the year. The most awesome experience is meeting new people at camp and having that special connection of knowing that they are all living with T1D, just like me! At Camp Midicha, I feel like an ordinary kid, just with a little extra to do. Through attending Camp Midicha, I believe that T1D will never stop me from doing the things I love!"

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