Doctor volunteers at ‘happiest’ summer camp
Angie Evans was nervous the first time she dropped off her daughter Emily at camp. “We had been Emily’s 24/7 caregivers since she was diagnosed with diabetes at age 3,” Evans says.
No worries: Emily came back hale and hearty from Gales Creek Camp, calling it the “happiest place.”
Gales Creek Camp is a traditional summer camp with hiking, field games, swimming, campfires, and arts and crafts. The difference: It is a medical camp serving children with diabetes; many of the counselors have diabetes and are trained to look for signs of campers with low blood sugar. Physicians are nearby to make sure ensure campers have a good, healthy week of fun.
“The benefits of being around others with the same chronic disease is priceless,” says Karin Selva, M.D., a volunteer at Gales Creek for 19 years. “Kids overcome fears surrounded by peers who understand what it’s like to live with diabetes, and parents get to know each other –– it’s truly building community.”
‘A camp person’
The camp relies heavily on volunteer physicians such as Dr. Selva to help manage each campers’ health, giving parents peace of mind when leaving their children for the week.
Dr. Selva is medical director of the Diabetes and Endocrine Center at Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel. “I’m a camp person, and I love Gales Creek because it’s a true summer camp, like the kind I went to as a child,” says Dr. Selva, who brings her two children. “I watch campers form friendships and become role models for others.”
The positive outcome for the children is gratifying. “They become more independent in their diabetes care. I’ve watched some of the campers give their first shot while there, and it’s a big deal –– they get recognized for that,” she says. “They find positive role models through the counselors and develop life-long friendships. Lastly, they have a summer camp experience to talk about when school starts.”
For more information: www.galescreekcamp.org.
Media: Vicki Guinn