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Youth diabetes camp offers virtual support for campers

Posted at 3:52 PM, Apr 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-16 11:41:48-04

BOISE, Idaho — Camp Hodia campers are quick to tell you just how much their summer safe haven means to them.

"It's kind of the one place I feel normal, so if I give a shot of insulin at the dinner table, no one thinks twice about it," said 17-year-old camper Sophie Walters. "It's my home, I look forward to it every single year."

The coronavirus, however, may hinder their plans.

"We know for sure that we will have Camp Hodia," said executive director Lisa Gier,

"Camp Hodia is going to be here doing this pandemic, Camp Hodia will be hereafter this pandemic, but we're asking our participants to maybe re-imagine it with us this summer."

They've started virtual spring sessions already. Recently, they hosted a Zoom campfire and talent show. They also held a Q&A with an endocrinologist and psychologist to address the unknowns surrounding COVID-19 and Type 1 Diabetes.

"Questions ranged from how to strategies to avoid infection, how to manage diabetes, what to do if you get sick," said Dr. Daniel Flynn.

Type 1 is an autoimmune disease, and teen campers, especially, expressed increased anxiety over whether they were more "at-risk."

"There has definitely been an increase in the need for behavioral health support during the pandemic," said psychologist Dr. Amy Walters. "A number of parents have concerns, a number of kids have concerns, there's been lots of changes in routine, so we have had some increased need to connect kids to the appropriate resources."

Dr. Flynn says it doesn't seem young people with type one are at risk for worse outcomes, but he says diabetes certainly doesn't make any medical issue easier. Flynn, along with other professionals, tracks the virus and will provide recommendations as to how camp should proceed this summer.

"I would really miss not being able to go to camp, I do think a virtual thing would still be important and needed because it does for a lot of kids give them a sense of importance in their lives," said Sophie.

Camp Hodia staff and campers still look on the bright side; last year, they saw a thirty percent increase in enrollment, and virtual sessions could mean more participants.

"We don't know what's going to happen, but we'll always be together," said Sophie.

To learn more about virtual services and the summer programs, visit Camp Hodia's website here.