Camp is for Families, too!

One fall Friday afternoon when I was about 9 years old, my mom picked me up from school long before there were carpool lines and SUVs with placards with numbers on them… She was just there parked along the sidewalk in the family car. My younger sister was in the backseat.

This was quite a switch… I usually took the bus home and then walked the half mile to our home. When my inquisitive mind got in the car, my mom explained that we were going on a family camping trip and had to get back to the house to meet my father and brother, get the car packed, and head to our destination. Camping! CAMPING? The Shreve Family was going camping. IT was a dream come true.

I will spare you the majority of the details but there were a couple of take aways- my father had not pitched a tent since his military days and I quote- “things have changed a lot since then…”, it poured rain to the point where the sleeping pads doubled as ferries from the car to the tent site, and my mom, a newbie to camping, failed to pack any sort of “entrée” item for us to eat. There were baskets and baskets of pickles (dill, sweet, spear, chip); mustard (brown, yellow, spicy, Dijon); chips (plain, sour cream, and onion, BBQ, ruffled), and thirty-seven or so varieties of paper products… but no protein in sight.

The antics of that trip are the basis of many of our communal gathering conversations today with my family. I have vivid memories of staying dry in our misshapen tent playing Crazy 8’s (a plain deck version of UNO) and substituting the words “puppy dog tracks” instead of “clubs” and my dad strategically placing containers to catch the runoff from getting on our sleeping bags.

Camp Kudzu offers Family Camp weekends and, while there are a sundry of parents and siblings there, we take a different approach to the weekend. Family camp offers a range of activities that provide families with novel, engaging ways to spend time together.

Families benefit from the experience in a number of ways… Spending time to in a new and different setting helps nurture relationships. By escaping the everyday distractions of home, families can focus and listen to each other, improve communication, and just be in the moment. Not being in charge (which is somewhat unnerving) of the schedule and meals and clean up and… allow for batteries to be recharged across the family.

Additionally, there is great value in being with people just like you… swapping stories of 2 am checks and 3 am checks and 4 am checks or navigating Trick or Treating or doing the birthday cake slice size dance or100 visits to school during the first semester after diagnosis or going several rounds with insurance companies or even, sharing a tear together in silence.

The carb counting fairy visits each meal at Family Camp and leaves a typed-out sheet of numbers on your table. Allergen information has been researched and is posted. Education sessions support the most recent information “out there”.

Camp Kudzu celebrates families and campers right where they are… newly diagnosed to transitioning to near summer camp age to wrestling with puberty and beyond. Often, our families are “dating” us… There is comfort in meeting the Camp Kudzu staff and engaging with them, hearing Camp Kudzu’s approach to diabetes management first hand and seeing it action, interactions with our counselors who have been the parent and/or the camper, and realizing that yes, while diabetes stinks, the Camp Kudzu Community will be there for you and one can thrive living with diabetes- success is present.

There is so much value in being in the out of doors- fresh air, trees, bird noises… all of it helps us as humans get centered and refreshed. Camp Kudzu carves out a weekend- a couple of times a year- where diabetes takes a back seat to canoeing, fishing, arts and crafts, singing, nature hikes, and the climbing wall.

We would love to see you at our Spring Family Camp program, April 26-28, 2019. For more information, please travel here– I promise my mom won’t be in charge of the menu!

Contributed by:
Kat Shreve, Director of Programs 
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