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Having fun!

Sweeney Diabetes Camp

Summer camp can be an oasis for kids. A chance to play all day long, make new friends and master new skills. But, for many young children with diabetes, traditional camp is not a possibility as the camps are not equipped to deal with their special health needs.

Sweeney Diabetes Camp is open to children between five and eleven years old, this one-to-two-week day camp gives them opportunities to develop new friendships, learn about diabetes and participate in fun activities in a non-clinical atmosphere. During the school year, these children are often the only ones in their school with type 1 diabetes mellitus which can make them feel isolated or different from their peers. At camp, all the children test their blood glucoses regularly and take insulin prior to eating making it a unique, equalizing experience for these young campers. The camp is staffed by medical personnel from Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, local school nurses, as well as by volunteer counselors. Many of the counselors are former campers and also have Type I diabetes.

A typical day includes a session of kid-friendly diabetes education, sports and games, special activities such as visiting the animals at the petting farm, arts and crafts, and tractor rides. Each week the kids are encouraged to share “five things that bug them and five things they love about having diabetes” an activity that helps them realize that other kids share the same ups and downs about the disease. The camp also gives parents opportunities to bond. Parents meet during a mandatory pre-camp orientation session and see each other throughout the week during camper drop-off and pick off.

During the diabetes education portion, kids learn how to test their blood sugar levels, self-administer injections, rotate insulin pump sites, and recognize and deal with symptoms of high and low blood sugar. Even lunchtime becomes a valuable teaching experience about the importance of good nutrition.



Michael Tisdell
SCF 4H Diabetes Camp Director

Last updated January 25, 2022