Two camps near Cochrane are allowing youth living with diseases to be a kid again, and connect with others.
The Canadian Diabetes Association D-Camp Jean Nelson In Water Valley is running for two weeks this summer, with the first ending today, and the next beginning August 5.
Camp Jean Nelson gives kids living with Type 1 Diabetes an opportunity to experience a summer camp, which can be difficult due to their condition, as not all camps can accommodate a diabetic child.
Ted Lockie, Western Canada Manager of Camp and Youth Programs, Canadian Diabetes Association says the kids will fit right in with 25 camp counselors who also have Type 1 diabetes.
"I think what's really important is the emotional value of meeting a young role model that has the chronic illness you have, and is doing all the things you would hope a young person is doing. Going to school or working, maybe the'yre on a competitive sports team, or in a band, whatever resonates with you, we probably have a staff member that's doing that."
The kids will also be monitored by 30 medical staff, to ensure insulin is being dosed correctly.
Lockie hopes the kids will learn about independent self management of diabetes, nurture friendships, and improve their self esteem.
Crohn's and Colitis Canada's Camp Got 2 Go is currently being hosted at the Easter Seals Camp Horizon in Bragg Creek, it's a one week overnight summer camp for children and teens aged 9-17 living with Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis.
Tina LeMay, Manager of Patient Service Crohn's and Colitis Canada, says Camp Got 2 Go provides campers with a once in a lifetime opportunity to interact with youth facing similar challenges.
"Generally their relation to the disease is just with themselves, their primary healthcare provider, and parents," she explains. "In this situation it provides a safe, and fun environment for youth living with Crohn's and Colitis. This allows them to have a sense of belonging, so they don't feel different or ashamed of the diseases...It provides them some self confidence, and a little bit more awareness about their disease and that they're not alone in the world."
The camp runs until July 29 and includes water activities, archery, and evening campfires where kids can share stories, and get to know youth from across Canada who can understand and relate to each other's difficulties.