WMC Foundation to send two local youth to diabetes camp
This past summer, 12-year old Breckan Stewart went to camp. In some ways, camp was like any other, with archery, horseback riding and rock climbing adventures. However, Breckan’s experience, sponsored by the Winneshiek Medical Center Foundation, included education about type 1 diabetes, a diagnosis she received just months prior.
“Breckan was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on January 29, 2017, just days before last year’s camp applications were due. The timing was perfect,” says Tracy, Breckan’s mother. Breckan applied to the Winneshiek Medical Center Foundation, and soon learned she was a recipient of a campership to Camp Hertko Hollow for the upcoming June session. Breckan says, “Before I went to camp, I didn’t like talking about diabetes. I tried to hide it. After I came back, I didn’t mind talking about it anymore.” Her mother agrees. She says, “Our family noticed an immediate change in Breckan after she returned. She was finally ready to talk openly about her disease.”
Camp opened Brecken’s eyes that she was not alone. “No one stood out at camp. We all had to check our blood sugar and count carbs at meals. And I made some great friends who I still talk to. Kids with diabetes should all go to camp,” she says.
For the ninth year, the Winneshiek Medical Center Foundation is offering camperships for area youth between ages 8-17 to attend Camp Hertko Hollow, an Iowa camp for kids with diabetes. The campership program is offered thanks to donations from the community dedicated to supporting local diabetes prevention and education. Past supporters of the program include the Calmar Corvette Club; Gene and Jane Sivesind of Waukon, Iowa; and Blooms for Diabetes Education, coordinated by Marissa Foels, Morgan Moen and The Country Garden Flowers and Gifts in Decorah.
Camp Hertko Hollow was founded in 1968 with 37 campers by Dr. Edward Hertko of Des Moines. The camp has grown to over 360 campers and 120 staff volunteers each summer. Jean Irvin, RN and diabetes educator at Winneshiek Medical Center, says, “The week-long camp provides youth the opportunity to interact with and befriend other kids with diabetes – relationships that encourage social and emotional growth –while learning more about their disease.” She adds, “Kids can participate in traditional camp activities with others just like them.”
The camp is staffed by physicians, nurses, diabetes educators, registered dietitians, and students of these professions, making it a safe and healthy environment for each camper. Irvin says, “Early education on how to manage diabetes greatly increases the likelihood these youth will make a life-time commitment to healthy diabetes care. Kids that go to camp will gain the tools to better manage their disease through adulthood.”
Camp Hertko Hollow runs two sessions: Kids week (ages 8-12) is from June 24 – June 30, 2018 and teen week (ages 13-17) is from July 1 – 7, 2018. Camp is held in Boone, Iowa.
Area youth with diabetes (type 1 and type 2) are encouraged to apply for a full campership to Camp Hertko Hollow ($650 value) for the 2018 season. Application packets are available at Winneshiek Medical Center, through school nurses at all Winneshiek County schools, Winneshiek County Public Health and the Decorah Public Library. The application is also available at www.winmedical.org/giving.
Applications should be returned to Winneshiek Medical Center Nutrition Services and be postmarked by February 9, 2018. For more information, call 563-387-3158. To partner with the WMC Foundation to continue funding for the Diabetes Campership program, call 563-387-3129.