Camp Needlepoint: Home Away from Home

“My life was changed before I ever had a chance to really live it. The only life I’ve ever known has been one of routine, planning, counting, and adjusting. I have always been hyper-aware of what is happening within me. I never had a choice. You see, at 16 months old I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
I have faced the unique situation of never having known a pre-diabetes life. I do not remember a time before finger pokes, shots, blood sugars, and carb counting. The effect this has had on me as a person is unfathomable. Diabetes has truly shaped who I am in ways that I can’t even imagine, no matter how much I fought it. For instance, until I was 15 years old I had never had a candy bar or had a meal that wasn’t completely planned out in advance. Additionally, I have always connected with people who were different than everyone else.
Most of my young life, I was the only diabetic kid I knew. When I began school, I had to answer questions like “Why do you get extra snacks?” and “Why do you always go to the nurse’s office?” Each year I had special meetings with all my teachers about what diabetes is and how to take care of me. I was singled out as The Diabetic Kid. That is until the summer of fourth grade. That was the first year I attended Camp Needlepoint. I couldn’t believe there was an entire camp filled with kids just like me. Kids who understood me when I said things like, “I’m wiggly,” and “I need to test.” I was finally just like everyone else. Camp Needlepoint gave me something I had always wanted: it finally reversed the rolls. I now had something that ONLY diabetic kids could have and only they could understand.
After my first week at Camp Needlepoint I knew that nothing would prevent me from coming back again and again. Each year, for nine years, I returned to my new home away from home to see my second family and every year on the day camp ended, I began to count down until the next year. Coming back to work as a counselor was a no-brainer. My camp family had gotten me through the loss of a grandparent, my awkward tween years, and together we got through a loss of one of my best friends and one of our own. I needed to give that to children who are exactly where I had been.
Each year I came back it always felt like I was coming home. A home where every day has a new and exciting adventure planned and glorious moments that could never be planned. My most rewarding moments as a counselor have been seeing the same kids come back year after year because they have found that family at the heart of Camp Needlepoint that will be with them all their life, just like it has been there for me and shaped my life.”
-Jordan Anderson

Camp Needlepoint: A Life-Changing Experience

My journey with diabetes started almost 4 years ago when I volunteered as a medical intern at Camp Needlepoint.  I was born and raised in Marine on St. Croix, which is just up the river from camp. After graduating this past May in Biomedical Engineering, I now work as an engineer at a local medical device company. I am actively involved in the Society of Women Engineers, The American Diabetes Association and absolutely love anything related to the outdoors; spring, summer, fall or winter. One of my biggest passions though is molding together happiness and health through medicine. I came into camp 4 years ago in with little knowledge of diabetes, no knowledge of the biochemistry of it all and no idea how to even care for someone with diabetes. What I ended up learning and gaining from my Camp Needlepoint experience though, was absolutely invaluable.

I had no knowledge of diabetes, no friends or family with diabetes, and no idea where to even go on my first day at camp. I quickly found out I was not the only first timer, as I saw children crying and still clinging to their parents as they were being dropped off. New challenges and places are scary for everyone, whether you are twelve, twenty or fifty. What Camp Needlepoint taught me though, was that you are not alone, there are people that are going to help you no matter what your circumstance is, no matter how lost and alone you feel. I saw old campers welcoming new counselors, counselors welcoming families, and medical staff welcoming new campers. It was a never ending circle of inclusion and I had never felt as quickly welcomed into a family as I had at Camp Needlepoint.

Working in the medical office not only acclimated me to the basic sciences of diabetes, but it also opened my eyes to a life with diabetes. With hundreds of kids constantly running, swimming, hiking and climbing, the medical staff saw their fair share of highs and lows throughout the week, literally. The beginning of the week started off rough, many campers were here for the first time with barely any knowledge of how to manage their diabetes. We experienced countless tears and tantrums during the day in our office, as well as scared and restless nights as campers were away from home for the first time. However within days, and sometimes even hours, those tears turned into smiles and those tantrums turned into laughter. One girl specifically, put in her own set for the very first time. We saw something deep down light up inside her, a whole new confidence and happiness as she walked out of our office. She ran out back to her counselor and bunkmates to spread the good news and instantly they all cheered and congratulated her on her new accomplishment. This is exactly how camp is though. No matter the feat, no matter the obstacle, your counselors, your medical staff, and even your bunkmates are going to welcome you, encourage you, and support you.

During my week at camp I gained not only knowledge and awareness, but friends. Sadly I could not stay involved with camp as school and internships kept me busy throughout college. I stayed in contact with friends though, and this ultimately led to my involvement with the YPLC this year. I am beyond excited to get back to camp and see all those kids again. Whether they were hiking, sailing, camping, horseback riding, or tie-dyeing, these campers felt like they were at home. Camp Needlepoint is a family that will always be there for its campers, counselors and medical staff; to give them confidence, independence, and most of all, a family.

- Jessica Springer

Camp Needlepoint: A Great First Experience

Hank giving himself a shot

Our son Hank was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes (T1D) in the fall of 2008 at the age of 6.  As a result of his diagnosis there have been many firsts (including this attempt for me to blog).  Some bad, lots good and the many unexpected firsts that come with a T1D diagnosis.

One of our biggest first was Camp Needlepoint.  As the oldest child in our family, we had yet to send a child to overnight camp much less a child with diabetes.  As we drove across the MN/WI border to camp, I was silently second guessing our decision to send him.  Another state!  It seemed way too far.

We arrived at Camp Needlepoint and began unloading his suitcase and saw many other families doing the same.  We headed for the checkout line and it seemed really long because I knew everyone had to go over carb counts, insulin amounts etc., with the camp staff.  About 5 minutes into the line it was our turn.  I was armed with all of the information needed to manage Hank’s diabetes care.  I was prepared for this to take a while and to my great surprise it only took a few minutes.  The staff spoke the diabetes lingo and the got all the information they needed in about a minute.  My doubts about sending him were calmed.  Not only was the staff efficient and knowledgeable, they were also very excited about the upcoming week.  Looking around at all of the other kids and families that were in our situation was comforting.  As we walked to his cabin my fears were eased more as we met his counselor and some new friends.  It was going to be a great week.  As we drove home without Hank (first time he had been away from us since his diagnosis) I began to think that Hank is probably going to get better care at camp than at home as he was surrounded by everyone that was going through was he was.

One of the biggest milestones at camp was Hank giving himself his first shot.  This was one of those firsts I never thought I would be excited about until his diagnosis!

Hank is going back for his 4th year to Camp Needlepoint this August.  He was a little shy about writing his own blog but was willing to let me share some highlights with you. Here is his unedited list in no particular order.

#1 You wake up at 7:00am
#2 You go horseback riding
#3 You get desserts every night
#4 You can recommend people in your cabin (bunk with friends)
#5 You do 90 minutes of games
#6 You get to go swimming

My favorite part of his list is there is no mention of diabetes.  His camp experience was about having fun and how to incorporate his care into his fun rather than trying to manage fun around his diabetes.  We are extremely grateful for Camp Needlepoint and the staff who showed us kids with diabetes can have fun at camp!

-Sara, Hank’s Mom

2014 EXPO Meet the Chef: Dana Herbert

The Grand Tasting Area is a multi-layered world class sampling of appealing diabetes-friendly foods created and served by Novo Nordisk Diabetes Education Program Celebrity Chefs: Chef Tiffany Derry, Chef Rory Schepisi, Chef Doreen Colondres, and Chef Dana Herbert. Each chef will be paired with a Novo Nordisk Diabetes Educator delivering educational focused on healthy eating and meal planning. Healthy eating does not have to be boring but vibrant, full of life and flavor! Groups will be admitted into the Grand Tasting Area every 15 minutes from 11:00am – 1:30pm.

Meet Chef Dana Herbert:

Chef Dana Herbert was introduced to cooking and pastry making while studying for a culinary degree at Johnson and Wales University. He operates an award-winning custom bakery “Desserts by Dana” in his home-state of Delaware, where he dishes up sweet and savory treats. Affectionately called “Delaware’s King of Cakes” by local fans, Dana was challenged to join TLC’s “Cake Boss: Next Great Baker” flagship series in 2010-2011. Dana took the show by storm, bringing flavor and color to life in his cakes on television, and ultimately won the show. His big win caught the attention of the James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour, where he came on board as a celebrity chef and gained recognition for his culinary creations. He has since been featured on a number of different shows and has authored A Sweet and Savory Union to showcase his love of blurring the lines of sweet and savory. Dana comes to Diabetes Academy with not only a passion for food, but also the sensibility and insight that life is all about moderation.

Click HERE to read more about Dana and the other chefs that will be at EXPO on October 11.

To to learn more about the details and register for the 2014 Minnesota Diabetes EXPO click HERE.

 

Diabetes Camp Needlepoint: Changing Lives!

I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in January of 2007, a week before my 17th birthday. In the time between my diagnosis and my first summer at Minnesota’s Camp Needlepoint in 2009, I hadn’t encountered many people living with diabetes. The thought of being surrounded by other people with diabetes for an entire week seemed unreal. Immediately upon my arrival, everyone was very welcoming and friendly. The campers were excited to be back and meet up with friends from the past year. It didn’t take long for me to realize this was a safe place where I felt normal. I didn’t have to explain my low blood sugar and how horrible it felt or that I immediately needed some sugar. Instead, as soon as “oh man…56” left my mouth, I was greeted by 5 different people with juice, glucose tabs, and snacks. Camp Needlepoint is a place where there is an understanding between everyone that doesn’t need to be taught. This camp emphasizes having a fun time while managing a chronic disease, which is a great lesson to be learned.

As a young adult with diabetes, I have been able to share my personal experiences with these kids at camp. My first year as a counselor I encountered Ashley*, who was newly diagnosed and relied heavily on her parents to manage her diabetes. Before our first meal, she watched as a fellow camper gave herself a shot of insulin in the stomach and asked, “do you always do that there?” Sensing her apprehension, I shared my story of how I overcame my fear the first time I gave myself a shot. With encouragement from fellow campers and our cabin physician, Ashley* gave herself that first shot. At the end of the week Ashley* proudly told her parents that she would now be administering her own shots. A lesson learned from camp is that everything does not always go as planned; the ability to improvise, be resilient and create a positive atmosphere can influence outcomes. No one ever plans to live with a chronic disease, but helping campers gain confidence in managing their health is the reason I return to camp each year and has served as motivation for a future career in medicine with a goal of becoming a pediatric endocrinologist. This will be my 6th year returning to camp as a counselor and I hope to come back to Greatest Place I know as a physician in the near future!

Sarah Green
2009-2014 Counselor

2014 EXPO Meet the Chef: Doreen Colondres

The Grand Tasting Area is a multi-layered world class sampling of appealing diabetes-friendly foods created and served by Novo Nordisk Diabetes Education Program Celebrity Chefs: Chef Tiffany Derry, Chef Rory Schepisi, Chef Doreen Colondres, and Chef Dana Herbert. Each chef will be paired with a Novo Nordisk Diabetes Educator delivering educational focused on healthy eating and meal planning. Healthy eating does not have to be boring but vibrant, full of life and flavor! Groups will be admitted into the Grand Tasting Area every 15 minutes from 11:00am – 1:30pm. – See more at: http://www.diabetes.org/in-my-community/diabetes-expos/minneapolis/grand-tasting-area.html#sthash.ORGoDbxp.dpuf

Meet Chef Doreen Colondres:

Join Chef Doreen at the MN Diabetes EXPO on October 11

 

Born into a family of cooks, Doreen Colondres’ family kitchen was the epicenter of her childhood. She developed a passion for local, fresh food and merging classic flavors with new ingredients. When life took her to Miami, Doreen found she was never far from the kitchen, cooking for friends and entertaining. In fact, Doreen wanted to convince the world that “The Kitchen Doesn’t Bite” and launched her website of the same name. A leading figure in today’s “Cocina Latina” movement and an expert in a range of Hispanic cooking, Doreen is determined to revolutionize the way the world approaches food, cooking, and eating habits. As a fresh food advocate with a passion to educate, Doreen’s easy approach and vibrant personality have helped her become a “people’s chef.” When Doreen isn’t experimenting in the kitchen, she’s either traveling abroad consulting for international companies, or is on-air hosting cooking shows on Fox’s Utilisima Network. Her mission is to show others that Hispanic food is flavorful and diverse, and that cooking is relaxing, healthy, and most importantly fun! – See more at: http://www.diabetes.org/in-my-community/diabetes-expos/minneapolis/grand-tasting-area.html#sthash.ORGoDbxp.dpuf

Click HERE to read more about Doreen and the other chefs that will be at EXPO on October 11.

To to learn more about the details and register for the 2014 Minnesota Diabetes EXPO click HERE.

 

10 Things to Remember for Camp

Can you believe that the first session of Camp Needlepoint 2014 is here? Campers, and counselors alike are getting geared up for another fantastic two weeks, and are looking forward to make more memories. For your courtesy we compiled a list of the top 10 things to remember for Sunday. This will help make sure your experience at Camp Needlepoint, is TOTALLY AWESOME!!

  1. Sunscreen
  2. Pump Supplies (6 infusion sets and pods, and 3-4 cartridges/reservoirs are sufficient)
  3. Bug Spray
  4. A good pair of tennis shoes
  5. Sunglasses (Remember to protect those eyes!)
  6. Rain Gear (Poncho or rain jacket is sufficient)
  7. A good flashlight
  8. Writing materials to write home
  9. Money for the camp store
  10. Tons of socks! (Remember NO FLIPFLOPS!)

Diabetes Camp: Dr. Amy Criego

It was the summer of 1979 when I experienced diabetes camp for the first time. I had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in September 1978, so it was all still pretty new. Like so many kids my age, I cried when I was dropped off for my first week of camp….. and then had so much fun that I cried again when I got picked up! Camp Sioux was part of my life every summer while I was growing up in North Dakota with diabetes. I remember one of my counselors very clearly. She was studying nursing and later became an RN. Kathy was a great example of living well. I knew I could do it too. I gave my own shot for the first time at camp and learned day to day management. More importantly, I had a great time! Everyone was doing the same things that I had to do and it was no big deal. It was not easy, it just was.

I now have the fortunate experience and responsibility to be on the other side of things as a volunteer physician at camp. I have been involved with Camp Needlepoint and Camp Daypoint since 2002. The setting is different. There are more kids and more staff. Diabetes management has certainly changed. Frequent blood glucose monitoring, multiple daily injections with newer insulins, insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring, the changes have been fantastic. Better tools have definitely improved diabetes management. Unfortunately, the burden of the daily tasks involved with managing type 1 diabetes still remains and can be overwhelming at times. Somehow this is lessened at camp. Everyone is doing it. Again, it is not easy, it just is.

It has been 35 years since I checked in at Camp Sioux as a camper for the first time. In several weeks, I will be helping and overseeing the check in process at Camp Needlepoint and Camp Daypoint. It is a privilege to be involved with the American Diabetes Association in this endeavor. It is an honor that parents trust the staff and the process, knowing that their children will be safe at camp. Most importantly, it is awesome to see the kids show up with laughter and excitement, looking forward to seeing their friends from years before. Some of them may even be helping out a new kiddo with tears in their eyes like I had so many years ago. With all of the experiences that diabetes camp brings to young people, I know the campers of today will be talking about their time at camp with smiles on their faces for years to come. Just like me.

Amy B. Criego, M.D., M.S.
Department Chair Pediatric Endocrinology
Park Nicollet Clinic – International Diabetes Center

What is Camp Needlepoint: Summer Blog Series

What is Camp Needlepoint? Check out our new summer blog series highlighting the best features of Camp from all different perspectives. Here are the posts that we have highlighted so far:

Camp Needlepoint: The Greatest Place I Know by Sean Finn

“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. Read more here!

Memories of Camp Needlepoint & Daypoint by Becky Barnett

Hello blog readers! I want to thank and commend the YPLC group for coming up with the idea of a camp blog series! I am honored that they have asked me to contribute. Anyone who knows me, knows that I love to talk! And even more so about ADA CAMP NEEDLEPOINT & DAYPOINT! This summer will mark my 27th summer at ADA Camp Needlepoint in one form or another. The following poem I wrote is dedicated to my family, each and every camper and staff person that makes the camp experience what it is and of course my dear friend, ADA CAMP NEEDLEPOINT & DAYPOINT! Read more here!

Camp Needlepoint: A Counselor Living without Diabetes

Hello everyone, my name is Ben Putrah. I am the younger brother of, the ever so popular, Piper Putrah. I was approached by Tony Gand to write a blog on what diabetes and camp means to me. Honestly, I can’t even express into words what camp and diabetes mean to me. I was 9 years old when my sister was diagnosed with diabetes, that was 14 years ago. Up until 4 years ago, I knew that my sister had diabetes and that it was a life long illness but other than that I knew she had to test her blood and watch what she ate; that was the extent of it. Read more here!

Camp Needlepoint: It’s Where I Feel Normal by David Becker

It’s where I feel normal is a common phrase I heard my first time visiting Camp Needlepoint. I was rather new in the Executive Director position when I headed out to camp. I had heard many great things about camp but nothing could describe what I would see at camp. As I entered camp it felt like a fun place to be. There were smiles and laughing and even some very funny games. One thing caught my eye more than others. As I walked through camp I saw everything a camp should have but one thing was different. Instead of gathering around the picnic table to eat lunch there was many finger pokes happening. Read more here!

Diabetes Camp by Dr. Amy Criego

It was the summer of 1979 when I experienced diabetes camp for the first time. I had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in September 1978, so it was all still pretty new. Like so many kids my age, I cried when I was dropped off for my first week of camp….. and then had so much fun that I cried again when I got picked up! Camp Sioux was part of my life every summer while I was growing up in North Dakota with diabetes. Read more here!

Be sure to check back for more posts about Camp!

2014 EXPO Meet the Chef: Rory Schepisi

The Grand Tasting Area is a multi-layered world class sampling of appealing diabetes-friendly foods created and served by Novo Nordisk Diabetes Education Program Celebrity Chefs: Chef Tiffany Derry, Chef Rory Schepisi, Chef Doreen Colondres, and Chef Dana Herbert. Each chef will be paired with a Novo Nordisk Diabetes Educator delivering educational focused on healthy eating and meal planning. Healthy eating does not have to be boring but vibrant, full of life and flavor! Groups will be admitted into the Grand Tasting Area every 15 minutes from 11:00am – 1:30pm.

Meet Chef Rory Schepisi:

Join Chef Rory at the MN Diabetes EXPO on October 11

A New Jersey native with a big city attitude, Rory grew up surrounded by family in the restaurant business. At just 16, she decided to make cooking her career and enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America. After making a splash with her first restaurant at age 20, Rory consulted for establishments nationwide, gaining recognition in the process. While embracing the bicoastal lifestyle, Rory was offered the unique opportunity to join the reality TV program “Popularity Contest” on Country Music Television, which transplanted her to a small town in America’s heartland. Her experience on the show inspired her to permanently relocate to Vega, Texas, and start her successful restaurant, Boot Hill Saloon & Grill, which has since become a favorite among locals and visitors alike. Her accolades include reaching the final round on “The Next Food Network Star,” hosting her weekly cooking segment on NBC’s Texas affiliate and appearing on The Today Show as a featured chef. A perfect blend of Southern charm mixed with Yankee sass, Rory adds a healthy twist to her down-home style of cooking. Grab a fork – Rory is in the kitchen!

Click HERE to read more about Rory and the other chefs that will be at EXPO on October 11.

To to learn more about the details and register for the 2014 Minnesota Diabetes EXPO click HERE.