Health Team

Camp Teaches Kids How to Manage Health Conditions While Having Fun

Many kids are off to camp, but others get left behind because of medical concerns. That's why WakeMed began sponsoring Camp Challenge about 20 years ago.

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OXFORD, N.C. — Many youngsters are heading off to camp this summer, but others get left behind because of medical concerns.

Camp Challenge was created about 20 years ago from a partnership between Camp Oak Hill and local pediatricians. WakeMed became involved with the camp two years ago, and GlaxoSmithKline has also joined the partnership that makes the camp possible.

The camp began for youths with asthma, but now includes campers with diabetes. They do all the things their peers do, like running, riding, swimming and eating. But those activities can be a special challenge at Camp Challenge because the campers need close medical supervision.

"Most kids with diabetes need their blood sugars checked about four times a day," said Dr. Mark Piehl, director of WakeMed's Pediatric Diabetes Program.

Piehl said many of the kids need help counting carbs from their meals, which determines how much insulin they will need.

Rob Daniel, 8, was diagnosed with diabetes only nine months ago.

"Well, I was going to the bathroom a lot and I was getting real thirsty, so we went to the doctor and we checked and they said I was a diabetic," he said.

Daniel said he learned to give himself insulin shots and he's eager to move on to an insulin pump, like some other campers use.

Once the blood sugar is under control, there's nothing to stop the fun, especially with doctors and nurses close at hand.

Control is the key with asthma as well. WakeMed Respiratory therapist Kerri Erickson measures campers' breathing with a peak flow meter and helps them with daily or emergency medication if they need it. Then, there is nothing they cannot do.

"That's how you know that your asthma is controlled," Erickson said. "If you can do any activity that you would like to do and not have to stop and catch your breath."

The camp is more than just a week of fun. It's also an intense week of education.

"The hope is that they'll learn some lessons here that they can take with them home and really be more independent and self sufficient with their diabetes control and asthma control," Piehl said.

Camp Challenge operates for one week annually at Camp Oak Hill north of Oxford in Granville County.


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