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.

Camp Needlepoint: It’s Where I Feel Normal

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. This was eye opening to me. I imagined these kids sitting at a table at school with their friends and being the only one poking their finger. I wondered how did that make them feel? How do you explain this to your friends if you are 7 years old? Then I had my AHA moment… that is why kids love this camp. It is a place where they don’t have to answer those questions or explain what is going on. Everyone at camp knows. This camp was different than other camps. It was different because kids cry when they leave not when they come. I find myself constantly talking about this wonderful camp. It is a place where kids come to be a part of a bigger family of support, it is a place where the parents can feel comfortable with leaving their child. Honestly… I have never felt safer at a camp!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention something about the amazing camp director, counselors and medical staff. Camp is a huge production that takes a lot of time, dedication and effort. Let me talk a bit about what I witnessed with the staff while attending camp. I was blown away to find out 96% of our counselors have been campers themselves. I was amazed to hear from one counselor that he flies in each year to come back to camp to be a counselor, I was amazed to hear we have a social worker on site in case kids get home sick, I was amazed at the connection our camp director, Becky, has with these counselors and kids. If you know Becky this is not a surprise. She pours her heart into camp and it shows. She told me just today she has worked with over 8,000 families since she started as the camp director. That is dedication!

Now back to the title of this blog “It’s where I feel normal”. Last year we had a board meeting out at camp. This is always a highlight for our board members to see our mission in action. That day we met a little boy named Jacob that I will not forget. Jacob stood nervously in front of 21 board members as he and his wonderful counselor, Ben, talked to them about the importance of camp. Jacob was brave and answered questions that left a mark with every board member. One question hit us all with what we needed to hear…When we asked him what do you like best about camp he paused and said “it’s where I feel normal”.

Folks, if we can help 431 kids feel normal for one week every year that’s just what we will do!

My sincere appreciation goes out to the amazing medical staff volunteering their time, our counselors, our camp director and especially the kids that participate in our camp.

With Appreciation,

Dave Becker

American Diabetes Association

Executive Director

Camp Needlepoint: A Counselor Living without Diabetes

‘Merica Ben

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.

I remember it like it was yesterday, I was sitting in the kitchen at my parent’s house and my sister asked me to work at camp. On the way to camp I was very nervous, it’s a long drive to Park River, North Dakota, to think about what I may have gotten myself into.

Turned out to be the greatest experience of my life. I have never felt the way I do at camp. All of the kids I worked with and the staff I worked with have forever impacted me. Being a person living without diabetes, I was the outcast. I wasn’t treated like that at all though, I didn’t know what an A1C was or what a good blood sugar or a bad blood sugar was. I knew next to nothing about diabetes. I had so many questions but every time I asked a question, it went answered.  Throughout the course of two weeks I probably asked at least 50,000 questions. It must have been sickening to the other staff and kids but they all answered them. They knew I was there to learn more about diabetes.

After the first week at Camp Sioux, Becky’s camp aside from Camp Needlepoint, I expressed my gratitude to everyone. Now I have cried pretty hard before, but I don’t think I have ever cried as hard as I did when I thanked everyone for including me into the diabetes family. Most of all, I wanted to thank my sister for giving me that opportunity to go to camp. Second week came and went and Becky asked me if I wanted to work at Camp Needlepoint in August, I immediately said yes before she could even finish her sentence.

Camp Needlepoint is much more different than Camp Sioux. 1: The camp is significantly bigger and 2: You are responsible for more kids. It was challenging but equally as incredible as Camp Sioux. Camp Needlepoint is when I acquired the nickname ‘Merica Ben, for my admiration for the U.S. of A. Also, I always ended everything with a hardy ‘Merica! Parents I may be the reason your child walks around at home and says ‘Merica.

Anyways, back to camp and what it means to me. As I said before, I can’t express into words what it means to me. The reason I keep going back though is simple. I have created a connection with your kids and my fellow staff, but most of all I have created a connection with my sister; that couldn’t have happened without going to camp. Below I have included a letter my sister wrote to me my second year of camp. I think you will understand why I go to camp and will continue to go to camp.

In closing, I couldn’t imagine my life without camp. In all honesty, sometimes I wish I had been diagnosed with diabetes so I could have gone to camp for as long as my friends have gone.

Thank you for taking time out of your day to read this. Have a great day! ‘Merica!

Ben Putrah


To my brother Ben,

Our family has always been so close. Our parents raised us to always be there for each other and to stick by one another regardless of the situation and because of that you and Bo have always been my best friends.

When I got diabetes it was the same way. Our family came together to support me and you were all there for me. When I was in the hospital I remember Mom and Dad making the decision that I was going to be completely independent. They would help when they needed too but I was going to be able to do this on my own. So from that day on I did everything, I counted carbs, tested my own blood sugar and took my own shots. I never made excuses and our family never let me. You and Bo were both so young when I got it that neither of you really learned much about it, I wouldn’t talk about it with you and I wasn’t going to let you help me. I felt so misunderstood and I started to resent you for being healthy. Diabetes was my disease I shut you all out and I dealt with it alone.

Last summer when Becky needed a last minute fill for male staff at Camp Sioux. I thought of you right away. I never dreamt in a million years you would actually come. Driving to camp with you I was so nervous. At first because I knew if you screwed up that would be on me but second because we never really talked about diabetes before. I always acted like two different people. Someone who had it behind closed doors and someone who didn’t in front of my friends and family. I was ashamed.

After the first week of camp last year you made a speech at the end of the week that changed my whole perspective on keeping diabetes private. You were so grateful to be here and so proud to be a part of our diabetes family. After you pulled me aside, you hugged me and told me you loved me and that I could always come to you. I have been doing that ever since. I didn’t feel ashamed anymore and the wall I had up came down.

This last fall I really struggled with my control. I landed myself in the hospital with DKA in September the day before you turned 21. I know you spent your birthday alone because Mom and Dad were with me. I remember when I called you in the hospital to wish you happy birthday and I felt so terrible that I ruined your special day but all you said to me was, “it’s okay Pipe. I don’t care I just want you to get better.”

You are one of the most amazing people that I know and I would be so lost without you. It’s so nice to have you be here by choice because you truly want to make a difference for the people around you. Your strength and determination to push people to their limits is so admirable. I wish I could be more like you in that way. The people you surround yourself with are so lucky to have you. I never want you to forget how strong you are and how much you’ve done for me. You have the ability to change lives. You changed mine. I am so fortunate to have you as my brother! I love you!

Love, Piper