My 3 Monsters: Why We LOVE Camp AZDA

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This is our son Riley.

He's a pretty great kid -- at least we think so.  He likes running, music, video games and making movies with his siblings.  As many of you know, he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was in kindergarten.  Wasn't he sweet back then?

Actually, he's still pretty sweet -- just a little bit bigger now.

Last summer he had the opportunity to go to Camp AZDA, a local diabetes camp, for a week.  It was a life-changing experience for our whole family.  We had heard about diabetes summer camps.  Our doctor and several friends who grew up with diabetes recommended we send him, but I always brushed it off thinking, "That's just not for us," or "My kid will be fine without that."  And I was partly right.  He would have been fine without it, but who wants their kid to just be "fine" instead of really thriving?

The only reason I even considered it last year was because the family of another diabetic girl at Riley's school offered him a "scholarship" to the camp.  They, through their fundraising efforts for The American Diabetes Association, had earned a free trip to camp, but their daughter was a little too scared to go.  They really wanted Riley to have the chance to take her place.  How do you say no to kindness like that?  So he went.

Honestly, I think he was a little nervous himself.  I know I was nervous to see him go.  He came home a week later a changed kid.  It was such a good experience for him to meet other kids who are in the same boat -- his people, as he called them.  For the first time in a long time he wasn't the only one who had to stop what he was doing every little while to check his blood sugar or figure out his carbs before he could start eating.  I think it was liberating for him in a weird way.  It was also good for him to see just how good he really has it.  Many of his new friends had been hospitalized several times or had seizures on a regular basis.  Riley hasn't had to experience any of that, thank goodness.

I also think it was great for him to meet his camp counselors, who had juvenile diabetes themselves.  They were a bunch of really cool guys in their early twenties who did everything cool -- travel the world, skateboard, etc. {whatever else a ten year old boy would think was awesome in life}-- even with diabetes.  I think it gave Riley hope that life was going to be great for him, even though his condition wasn't going away.

It was also just plain old fun!  They had cool activities everyday like horseback riding, swimming, rock climbing, sports, crafts, and the smashing of said crafts on rocks {even though he didn't take pictures of any of those things}.  AND there was a big dance party every night.  Riley is just getting to the point where he craves a little independence, but he has this "thing" that keeps him tied to his parents.  I completely understand that it is frustrating at times.  Having a fabulous med staff at camp to take care of his insulin pump infusion set changes and stuff allowed him to have a little freedom for a while.

It was rejuvenating for Brent and I as well.  I'm not gonna' lie, taking care of a diabetic kid is a whole lotta' work.  It's just a part of life for us now, and we really can't complain, but I didn't realize how nice it would be to not have to do it for a couple of days.  He learned all kinds of new skills while he was there that continued to make life easier long after he came home.  The best part -- his blood sugar numbers were better at camp than they had been in years and continued to be for some time.  There is nothing like sending your kid to live with an endocrinologist for a week to fine-tune all your insulin pump settings.  It was awesome.

Long story short, we HIGHLY recommend diabetes camp to any family raising a kid with diabetes.  Camp AZDA is absolutely fantastic, but I'm sure there are great camps across the country.  {If you're interested, look on the ADA web page to find a camp near you.}

In march this year we "celebrated" the 6th anniversary of Riley's diagnosis.  We decided as a family that we would like to start a tradition of holding a fundraiser for the American Diabetes Association every year to commemorate his life-changing diagnosis.  This year we have rented out a local movie theatre to have a private screening of The Avengers on opening night!  We're really excited about gathering all our friends
{old and new} to support such a great cause.  Here's the info:

If you're local and interested in joining us, we'd love to have you!!  It's probably a good idea to call and pre-order your tickets.  We have already filled well over half of the seats.  {Hooray!} Thanks for listening to my little plug for the ADA today.

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