MiniMed Camp helps young people overcome challenges, live life to the fullest
Soňa was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 12, and was put on a regimen that included multiple daily insulin injections. But six months ago, she transitioned to insulin pump therapy and saw an improvement in her blood sugar levels, which gave her the opportunity to participate in a unique experience: the first MiniMed Camp for Diabetes in Central Eastern Europe.
Organized by Medtronic, the camp was held in early September in the picturesque High Tatras mountain range of Slovakia. Forty young people with diabetes—10 each from Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovenia—participated. The goal: to reinforce the message that people with diabetes can enjoy as fun-filled and active a lifestyle as anyone else.
For young people with type 1 diabetes, camps that focus on living with the condition provide a unique opportunity to interact with other people with the same diagnosis, better understand their diabetes through education and sharing experiences, and enjoy recreational activities that help them learn that their quality of life need not be limited just because they have diabetes.
The very first camp for children living with diabetes was conducted by Dr. Leonard F.C. Wendt in Michigan in 1925. Since then, the positive effects of camp-assisted education on self-management and diabetes-related education have been well documented. These camps are shown to help spread awareness about how individuals can participate in and enjoy traditional camping activities while safely managing their diabetes.
“Diabetes is not a condition preventing someone from engaging in sport or an active lifestyle," says camp administrator, Dr. Miriam Čiliaková, PhD. "All they need to be aware of is low blood sugar—when they feel their blood sugar decreasing, they need to take a break and replenish it."
Hypoglycemia, or low blood glucose, is one of the most common problems associated with insulin treatment. It can be caused by too much insulin, excessive or unplanned activities, or delayed food intake. All campers at the MiniMed Camp for Diabetes received a Medtronic insulin pump to help them achieve better glucose control.
Camper Honza from Czech Republic says using the insulin pump takes away the constant worry about blood sugar levels. “Being active is very important to me. So I am glad the pump does the job on its own and can even let me know about things well in advance," says Honza.
During camp, participants hiked a 9.44 km trail to Rysy mountain , completed whitewater paddling at a water sports center in Liptovský Mikuláš, participated in team-building activities, and enjoyed a pool party. They also attended sessions where they learned how to efficiently use the insulin pump, shared their own experiences with hypoglycemia, and heard from others about how sensor-augmented pumps have helped manage their blood glucose levels. The camp activities reinforced to campers that, with access to modern treatment and a commitment to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, they can participate in nearly any activity they want to without diabetes getting in the way.
For Soňa, the week she spent at the camp was life-changing. “I don´t do much hiking, so I was wondering if I can handle it," she says. "Finally, I did it and it´s a great feeling. If you have the right treatment and use advanced technology, you can do anything."