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

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