(Jan. 24, 2020) Children and teenagers with Type 1 diabetes will have the opportunity to learn more about their condition during a family weekend event, hosted by Camp Possibilities, at the Holiday Inn Oceanfront on 66th Street, Saturday, Feb. 29 to Sunday, March 1.
Families with children of all ages diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes will play games, socialize with one another and learn more about their condition during the two-day camp.
“The overnight camp experience for children with diabetes – and this might hold true for other children with chronic diseases– is that they’re with peers,” Camp Possibilities Director Jeff Dietz said. “So, it helps to overcome the isolation that one can feel because they might be the only child in their school or their neighborhood living with [such] a condition.”
Camp activities will include arts and crafts, cornhole, creating a 3-D pancreas, word and other interactive games that focus on relationship building, networking and informative sessions on Type 1 diabetes. There will also be activities for parents.
“For those living with Type 1 diabetes, for families who have a child with Type 1 diabetes, we think it is going to be a great time in a relaxed and fun setting,” Dietz said. “There will be a lot of education that we’ll get from talking with each other and our camp staff.”
Parents will be responsible for testing and administering all medications during the camp. Medical staff will not be on hand during the event.
The camp is a “whole different experience,” according to former camper and current Head Female Counselor and treasurer of the camp, Courtney Bollinger.
“I was a camper there when I was in the sixth grade,” she said. “I’ve been going to the camp for 13 years. It makes the coming to camp experience, to go to a sleep away camp where you have diabetes and you’re being controlled by someone that’s not mom and dad for a whole week … it makes that experience a little bit better for them.
“It’s important because it’s a good opportunity for them to meet other children with Type 1 diabetes, as well as parents to interact with other parents of Type 1 diabetes and gives a lot more insight into the camp, whether they’re registered to come this year or not,” Bollinger continued. “I think that it’s definitely a fun event and we’re going to have a lot of fun activities as well.”
Pricing for the trip varies on the size of the family. A family of two costs $240, a family of three costs $325, for four is $375, five $435 and six $495. If families plan to bring more than six people, email Dietz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Families should not be discouraged by the price, however, as there are several financial assistance options available, including funds raised by Ocean City resident Katie Rimel, whose son was a camper when he was younger.
“Never be afraid of money to contact the camp because of our fundraiser here and other resources that we have,” Rimel said. “We’ve never denied anybody for financial purposes. If you think your child can’t if you can’t afford it, don’t be afraid to apply.”
Rimel holds a Spaghetti for Possibilities fundraiser every March at the St. Peter's Lutheran Church on 101st Street. In the eight years she has held the fundraiser, she has raised over $80,000. This year’s event is planned for Saturday, March 21, from 4:30-8:30 p.m.
“If you have a child with Type 1 diabetes, most of the time they’re isolated when they’re at school,” Rimel said. “They might be the only diabetic at this school, especially if they attend a smaller private school or might only be one of maybe one or two kids in their school. This week gives them a week where they can be totally like everybody else.”
The cost covers the hotel room, breakfast, lunch and dinner provided by Holiday Inn. The cost was also partially covered by The Humphrey’s Foundation, which donated $5,000 to help support the family weekend.
Families are welcome to arrive on Friday.
If guests want to just come for the day on Saturday, the cost is $40 per person.
Financial assistance is available, including transportation. Families may apply as part of the registration process.
“Families living with a child with diabetes … because of insulin calls and other medical supplies have a lot of out-of-pocket expenses,” Dietz said. “It’s not unusual for these supplies to cost hundreds of dollars a month. That’s why we always tried to keep the price down.”
Camp Possibilities is a camp designed for children with diabetes between the ages of 8 and 17 who, due to the complexity of diabetes management, often do not get the chance to go to a summer camp or go on overnight trips.
Established in 2002, Camp Possibilities provides camping activities at Camp Ramblewood, in Darlington, Maryland, on 200 acres of private property. The organization holds dedicated diabetes education sessions at camp; however, these are intended only in the spirit of providing support, information and encouragement to campers.