Camp Needlepoint: The Greatest Place I Know

“The Greatest Place I Know” is a special phrase to a common song sung at the American Diabetes Association’s Camp Needlepoint. Normally this song is sung around the camp fire, after meals, and within cabin groups. Campers and counselors alike know this song, and most could agree with me that the verse of “The Greatest Place I Know” absolutely represents our feelings towards this special place.

Next month Camp Needlepoint will open its doors for a 57th consecutive year, hosted at the beautiful YMCA Camp St. Croix. For many Camp Needlepoint is something that they look forward to all year, and rightfully so. Camp Needlepoint is a place to relax, reconnect with friends, learn something about yourself, and more importantly a support network.

When my parents signed me up for Camp Needlepoint in 2004 I did not know what to expect. This was the first time I was leaving home for longer than a couple of nights, and I will admit I was nervous. I was a Frontier Sailor my first year, and I was assigned to Cabin 1. I still remember walking up to my cabin for the first time. I remember telling my mom, “This is exactly what a summer camp looks like in the movies!” My first year at camp was filled with a mixture of homesickness, but also pure enjoyment of what I experienced. Sailing, hanging out with my cabin mates, and play all camp games were some of the major highlights of that first year. From that point on I was a camper until 2007, and became a counselor from 2008 till 2012. During my counseling years I had the privilege to meet some of my closest friends, learn about myself, and give back by trying to give the best possible experience of Camp Needlepoint to my campers.

Last year I was approached by American Diabetes Association Executive, Director David Becker, to lead a brand new group called the Young Professional Leadership Council (YPLC) for the purpose of increasing support for the fight against diabetes within young adults. Since accepting this position, we have developed a diverse group of young professionals ready to make a positive impact on people living with diabetes. Some of these YPLC members even have experience as campers, counselors, and even medical interns. Each of these young professionals are eager to move this organization forward, and are excited about making positive changes within the ADA of Minnesota and North Dakota.

One of our first initiatives as the YPLC is to support Camp Needlepoint through engaging with families, corporate sponsors, and spreading the word about the Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes in late September. When the YPLC began to discuss how to present a different perspective of Camp Needlepoint, we jumped on the idea of a blog series. Over the course of seven weeks the YPLC will be sharing stories, perspectives, and insight on Camp Needlepoint. We believe that these stories and perspectives need to be shared because of how inspirational they really are.

We encourage you to read and share these blog posts on social media, because we want everyone to read these stories and perspectives of Camp Needlepoint. On behalf of the YPLC, we are excited to be a valuable partner in supporting Camp Needlepoint. Camp Needlepoint is truly the “The Greatest Place I Know”, and we are excited to start sharing these stories with the world.

Sean Finn
Camper 2004-2007
Counselor 2008-2012

A Blog Post from our Sponsor, Medifast MN

We Are Now Proudly Partnered With the American Diabetes Association!

In the United States alone, nearly 30 million people are diagnosed with diabetes, and thousands more are diagnosed every year.  It’s a disease that can affect anyone, but with the right information and action, we can prevent the growth of diabetes in our communities and defeat diabetes.

We want to help you feel great and be great.  Our Medifast for Diabetes Program can help you get healthier and start living life to the fullest.  All Medifast meals are low glycemic and safe for people with diabetes. The program focuses on cutting calories while maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.  The Medifast program also focuses on behaviors that might be triggers for overeating, like low blood sugar levels, stress, and anxiety. Our program is ideal for people at risk for diabetes as well.  By losing weight and being active, you can fight off diabetes and feel great doing it.

We have partnered with the American Diabetes Association (ADA) to fight against the deadly effects of diabetes and increase awareness and support among the community.  Our specialized program offers assistance that can help lower your risk for diabetes or manage your symptoms.  By supporting our clients to develop healthier eating habits and encouraging good fitness habits, we can work toward a world without diabetes.

If you think you might be at risk for diabetes, check out this great assessment and see what sort of action you should take to lower your risk.

Our new partnership has inspired us to take new strides to defeat diabetes.  The ADA has a number of upcoming events in the area to raise money, raise awareness, and raise spirits.  Be sure to mark you calendars!

  • Step Out:  Walk to Stop Diabetes on Sept. 27, 2014 and September 26, 2015
  • Tour de Cure – Twin Cities on May 30, 2015 and in Rochester on September 20, 2014 and September 19, 2015
  • Diabetes EXPO – October 11, 2014 and October 10, 2015
  • American Diabetes Association Gala – At Treasure Island Resort & Casino on May 2, 2015


Thank you again to Medifast MN for being a sponsor and promoting our events!

Post taken from:

Get to Know Your ADA Minnesota Staff: Barbara Harris

Employee: Barbara Harris

Position: Specialist

“I have a passion for the American Diabetes Association.  The work we do is very important to me.  I lost my dad to complications of the disease and my brother has type 2.

I wear several hats in the American Diabetes Association office.  Some of them include:  Office Manager, assistant to Gala Coordinator and Executive Director and Office Volunteer Manager.

Outside of work, I enjoy being a daughter, sister, mother and grandmother and good friend!  My family life brings me much enjoyment.  Fortunately, all of my family lives in town and I spend a lot of time with them.  I do enjoy a busy social life with friends, too.  I usually take several weekend trips and at least one cruise a year with friends and/or family.  With work, family and friends, I am blessed with a full and wonderful life!” -Barb

Thanks for all you do, Barb!

Barb with her mother, daughter, and granddaughter.

Get to Know Your ADA Minnesota Staff: Judy Edgren

Employee: Judy Edgren

Position: Specialist

“I have worked for the ADA for 15 years.  I have a daughter with Type 1 diabetes who was diagnosed at the age of 6 years old.  She has been pretty healthy most of her life, but has had complications from her diabetes the last couple of years.  That is why I am passionate about finding a cure.   I have been a participant in the Duluth Step Out: Walk event for 3 years and have been a Champion to Stop Diabetes for 2 of them and enjoy this event.   I have worked on making this event a success, as I help get the event ready each year.

Outside of work I enjoy being with my family and friends.  I like Fishing and Camping.  We have a place up north we go to a lot.  I like shopping for bargains when I have time.  I have a great husband  and spend most of my time with him, we have been married for 35 years.” -Judy

Thanks for all you do, Judy!

Judy was a Champion for Step Out Walk 2013


Get to Know Your ADA Minnesota Staff: Carol Holten

Employee: Carol Holten

Position: Specialist

“My journey with the American Diabetes Association began in 1986 after my daughter Katy was diagnosed at 6 years old with type 1 diabetes.  I wanted to help my little girl live with this disease any way I could so I started volunteering for ADA in the Minnesota Area office as a facilitator for a Diabetes Support Group for parents of school – age children.  I also raised money for diabetes research as a volunteer with the Gift of Hope Program for over 20 years.  Katy is the reason I am dedicated to help Stop Diabetes.

I joined the ADA staff in 2004 so I am celebrating my 10 year anniversary this year.  I have the pleasure of working on Camp Needlepoint & Daypoint our Minnesota camps, and Camp Sioux in North Dakota.  I also work on our Diabetes Expo and support other ADA programs.

When I am not working, I love to travel and spend time with family and friends, including my four grandchildren.” -Carol

Thanks for all you do, Carol!

Carol with her daughter

Get to Know Your ADA Minnesota Staff: Molly Duerr

Get to know your American Diabetes Association Minnesota staff!

Employee: Molly Duerr

Position: Associate Director

“My first experience with the American Diabetes Association was in 1995 after I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and attended Camp Needlepoint. I had the opportunity to attend Camp Needlepoint as a Camper, Counselor and on Medical Staff. In 2003, I joined the American Diabetes Association staff in New Jersey and in 2004 transferred to the Twin Cities American Diabetes Association. I am very fortunate to have the friends that I have made at Camp through the years support me as I live with diabetes day to day as well as in my job with the ADA. I coordinate the Diabetes EXPO and Healthcare Professional Breakfast which takes place each fall at the Minneapolis Convention Center, the American Diabetes Association Gala in the spring, and I also work on Corporate Sales for our office. When I am not working I am busy with my two young, active sons.” – Molly

Thanks for all you do Molly!

Molly with her husband and 2 boys

JOIN TEAM RED for Step Out!

Jeff Peterson, Team Red Captain for Twin Cities Step Out Walk

Approximately five years ago, I hadn’t been to the doctor in years. I’m a guy, and we don’t worry much about that stuff.  I finally made an appointment, though, because I was just not feeling right. I never used to pay attention to what I was eating, drinking, or anything else for that matter. Yeah, my parents had diabetes, but so what? That was never going to be the case with me.

They had asked me to come in a week before to do some blood work since there was nothing in my charts from the past. The doctor walked in to the exam room, opened the chart, and the first thing he said was: “I’m sorry to tell you, but it looks like you have type 2 diabetes.” You could have heard a pin drop, and my heart fell into the pit of my stomach.

Fast forward to six months ago, and I was at a Chamber of Commerce meeting where various companies were setting up booths to showcase their products and services. I happened to walk by the American Diabetes Association’s booth, and they had a display showing how much sugar was in foods and drinks I consume all the time – I was shocked at what I saw. It was at that point that I finally came to grips with my disease and chose to do something about it.  After speaking with Jacqueline Reding, who was representing the Association that evening, I decided that it was time I did something to help educate others about this disease. So, I joined the Twin Cities Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes Committee.

You can live with diabetes once you realize that it is never too late to change your ways.  Having this disease should not mean thinking, “Woe is me.” It should mean taking care of yourself and taking action – It’s time to step up to the plate and knock diabetes out of the park. I am excited to take the lead as Team Red Captain, because all those living with diabetes and participating in the Step Out should be honored and celebrated. I also encourage everyone to join the walk in order that one day, no one else will ever again have to hear the phrase that changed my life: “I am sorry to inform you that you have diabetes.”

– Jeff Peterson, Team Red Captain for Twin Cities Step Out

If you have diabetes, YOU are a Red Strider.

Join Team Red today – Because together we can stop diabetes. One step at a time.

For more information on Step Out and Team Red, visit our website:

Or contact Jacqueline Reding, Walk Coordinator for the Twin Cities:, (763) 593-5333 ext. 6598.




ADA Minnesota’s Impact in 2013

Our mission, to prevent and cure diabetes and improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes, can be seen in everything we do. Through your support, the American Diabetes Association, Minnesota Area is able to provide valuable programs and life-saving resources to over 425,000 Minnesotans and 1.4 million Minnesotans with prediabetes who are at risk for developing diabetes.
In Minnesota $3.1 million was raised and is making an impact in our community to STOP DIABETES.

See how your contributions made a difference and helped us advance our mission in Minnesota in 2013.


Meet the 2014 Twin Cities Walk Ambassador, Dylan Parsons

Team "Dylan's Day"

My name is Dylan Parsons and I was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes on September 2, 2000. Being diagnosed at 7 years old was a difficult change in my life for myself, friends and family when I growing up. Spending time with friends, going to birthday parties or being around other people that didn’t understand my disease was a big challenge for me. While I was in high school, managing my diabetes helped me take responsibility and accountability for my life at a younger age as I pursued new opportunities. Being an overnight camper and camp counselor at the ADA’s Camp Needlepoint in Hudson, WI for over 10 years has also make a huge impression on my life and has ultimately defined who I am and my future.


Today, I am a college student, I wear a pump, and I participate in Step Out: the Walk to Stop Diabetes every year at General Mills in Golden Valley. My team, “Dylan’s Day” consists of myself and my mother and we work together to raise money for the cause to eventually cure Diabetes.  I am really appreciative of the support my family gives me. Someday I hope to experience this historical milestone that will prevent the future complications and medical diagnosis that impacts as many as 1 in 3 people today. To register for the Stillwater Walk, visit Thank you for this opportunity and I look forward to seeing you at the walk on Saturday, September 27, 2014.

2014 Brainerd Walk Ambassador- Gannon Raguse

Team Gannon at the Brainerd Step Out 2013

Dear Friends, Family and Community Members,

My name is Gannon Raguse.  I will be a Senior at Brainerd High School when my team (Team Gannon) has the privilege of being the Ambassador for the 2014 Brainerd Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes.

At the age of six I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.  I was in the hospital for three days while the doctors and nurses tried to regulate my blood glucose and my parents learned about diabetes and how to give insulin injections.  Ever since that time it has been my mission to help raise awareness and funds to find a cure for diabetes.  This will be Team Gannon’s 12th year participating in the walk.  It hasn’t always been an easy road to follow over the years.  I’ve had plenty of highs and lows, even having to be revived one time.  But I haven’t let diabetes prevent me from doing the things I like to do.

Team Gannon consisted of 25 friends and family members in 2013 and raised over $3000.  We would love to have you join us this year and make it our most successful walk ever .  Please register online at and join Team Gannon on Saturday, October 4, 2014 at the Paul Bunyan Trailhead in Baxter.  We CAN make a difference!

Thank you for your support of this amazing cause!

Gannon Raguse

Team Gannon

2014 Brainerd Walk Ambassador