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Published: Thursday, 6/30/2005

Camp for diabetics offers rare fellowship

BY MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Hannah Scheppler, 10, of Tinora, Ohio, talks to friends while giving herself an insulin shot. 
Hannah Scheppler, 10, of Tinora, Ohio, talks to friends while giving herself an insulin shot.
DIANE HIRES / BLADE Enlarge

DEFIANCE Carly Miltz looks forward to this week every year.

The Diabetes Youth Services resident camp at Camp Libbey in Defiance offers the only occasion for her to be around more than 50 people her age with juvenile diabetes. This is her fifth year at the seven-day camp, which ends Saturday.

With my pump, people will ask why I have a pager or a cell phone, said Carly, 14, of her classmates in Genoa. Here people will say, Oh, you have a pump, too.

The insulin infusion pump is about the size of a deck of cards, and she clips it to her waistband. A tube extends from the pump to a needle under her skin that pumps a steady amount of insulin. She programs it to adjust for meals and when her blood glucose is too high.

It s a newer alternative to insulin shots, which are still the most common for the 10 to 15-year-old campers. Injection treatments usually include one shot every 24 hours to maintain a steady rate, and a different type insulin shot at meals.

Eric Karr, 12, of Fremont, and Adam Rice, 12, of Monroe, Mich., scale the climbing wall at Camp Libbey in Defiance, Ohio.
Eric Karr, 12, of Fremont, and Adam Rice, 12, of Monroe, Mich., scale the climbing wall at Camp Libbey in Defiance, Ohio.
DIANE HIRES / BLADE Enlarge

It s much easier than it used to be, said Jane Graf-fin, a registered dietician at the camp. They cover for what they eat, and that s a wonderful thing. They re so sensitive about being different from everyone else.

Mrs. Graffin began having the youth count carbohydrates at all meals and snacks to help them take control of their disease. Some really struggle to fill this out, she said of the green forms sitting on the cafeteria tables. By eating and counting, they re responsible and not the parents.

The Diabetes Youth Services resident camp has helped youth learn how to adjust their lives to diabetes for more than 15 years. It includes diabetes education, group therapy, and nutrition guidelines as well as activities found at any youth camp, such as swimming, hiking, horseback riding, and sports games.

The youth also test their blood sugar at scheduled times throughout the day.

Julianna Hergenreder, 11, of Rossford, uses her hat to hold a card on which she records carbohydrates.  Julianna Hergenreder, 11, of Rossford, uses her hat to hold a card on which she records carbohydrates.
DIANE HIRES / BLADE Enlarge

Joe Coyle of Maumee is one of 10 camp counselors who all have diabetes and are former camp members. Mr. Coyle, 20, gladly embarrasses himself to inspire the campers, as when he ate dinner Tuesday in Executive Director Robin Condon s pajamas because a camper faced a fear of an insulin shot in a new place on his body.

Last night Mr. Coyle planned to dress in a woman s swimsuit for dinner because he bet a boy that he could make it at least halfway up the rock-climbing wall and the boy did.

It allows me to cope with something that by nature is hard to cope with, Mr. Coyle said of being a counselor. You have something that s life-threatening, and when you re diagnosed, it feels like the world stopped. I tell them about my experiences so their life is easier.

Brian Johnson, 13, of Perrysburg is in his second year at the resident camp and also goes to a diabetic adventure camp because he likes being around people in the same situation.

Everybody here is diabetic, and I have something in common with them, he said. I ve made a lot of friends.

Contact Meghan Gilbert at:mgilbert@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.



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