Heading off to diabetes camp or a backpacking trip this summer?
Here are some tips for camping and hiking safety from Mary Simon, M.D., who has juvenile diabetes and is medical director for the Diabetes Youth Foundation and its Bearskin Meadow Camp in California, and Claudia Retemal, backpacking nurse specialist, who leads teens on backpacking excursions for the camp.
- Older kids going away from home should work closely with their care providers to adjust their routine; Dr. Simon advises that children under age 8 not be away from parents (Mom or Dad: consider going to camp! You can serve as a cook or other staff member and be available if needed).
- When going to a nondiabetes camp, such as a scout or church camp, your parents, care providers and camp medical staff should make a game plan ahead of time. For instance, each day at dinnertime Dr. Simon receives a phone call from her patients' camps to discuss daily food and activity so she can prescribe proper dosages.
- Make sure you can call your doctor anytime from camp. If your camp is not willing to cooperate with your needs, don't go!
- Always keep water with you. On hikes, carry water purificaton tablets. With diabetes you are at extra risk of dehydration.
- Be eco-smart and prepare ahead of time for carrying out your used supplies from a hike. Clip your needles, recap and then double-bag with used lancets and other trash.
- Pumpers: Always carry supplies for shots in case of emergency, as well as extra batteries and insulin.
- Make sure an adult will be checking you in the middle of the night, especially after a day of strenuous activity.
- When hiking, carry your supplies in the middle of your pack next to your back, so the sun will not be beating down on them. Also consider packing a second set elsewhere, in case one falls into a river or ravine!
- Keep your meters inside your sleeping bags. They won't work or will provide inaccurate readings if too cold.