Camp Seale Harris hosts summer camp
Children with type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune condition in which the pancreas does not produce insulin, experience daily hardships. They have to meticulously count carbohydrates at every meal, carefully monitor blood sugar and inject shots of insulin into themselves multiple times. But these obstacles are no reason that they cannot delight in the exciting pastime that is summer camp. With a bright and lively environment, a week at camp can be a cheerful means of teaching children how to continue to be healthy.
To benefit children ages five to 15 with Type 1 diabetes by giving them an opportunity to bond with others with the condition and simultaneously receive appropriate education, Camp Seale Harris was founded in 1949 and began in Tuscaloosa in 2012. This year it was held from July 11 to July 15 at The University of Alabama’s Robert E. Witt Student Activity Center. The summer camp moved to Birmingham on July 17.
According to Tuscaloosa News, the camp educates children in administering insulin, eating and drinking healthy, calculating carbohydrates and managing exercise through games. At Camp Seale Harris, the children get to do typical summer camp activities such as arts and crafts, swimming, archery, rock wall climbing, relay games, basketball and more.
The difference between Camp Seale Harris and other camps is that through the activities the children partake in, they learn how to manage their conditions so they can apply their knowledge in school, with friends and with family at home. Unfortunately for children with Type 1 diabetes, there is no cure yet, so it is necessary for them to carry out each safety measure required everyday in order to remain healthy.
Camp Seale Harris is a safe space as it has peer counselors ages 16 to 25 living with Type 1 diabetes there to help with education and activities, and nurses and volunteer physicians are there to monitor and administer care.
Caitlin Waters, a type 1 diabetic, attended Camp Sweeney and Texas Lions Camp as a child. She said the camp environment helped her make friends with the condition and learn more about taking care of herself.
“Growing up with it was difficult,” she said. “You don’t have the freedom like all other kids that are normal. Knowing more children with it definitely helps.”
Similar to Camp Seale Harris, which provides education and support, The University of Alabama has a student-led organization on campus entitled DiET (Diabetes Education Team), whose goal is to provide information about diabetes and health to people in under-served areas that would not otherwise receive it. It not only educates surrounding communities on proper exercise and nutrition, but it also gives healthy management advice to those already living with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.