WMC Foundation: Supporting Youth with Diabetes
Carson Straube and Morgan Moen are two kids who both love to have a good time. But everyday activities, especially when they involve food, can become a challenge because Carson and Morgan both have diabetes.
Carson (age 8) knows that before he eats, he must check his blood glucose levels through a finger prick. He then adjusts his medications through a computerized insulin pump set to administer the right amount of insulin directly into his body. Like Carson, Morgan, who is 10, also goes through this same process for every meal and snack. Both kids also have Celiac disease and need gluten-free foods to stay healthy.
Carson and Morgan carry a great deal of responsibility compared to other children their age, and when their families heard of the Winneshiek Medical Center Foundation’s program to send two kids with diabetes to a special camp, they each sent in an application.
“The Winneshiek Medical Center Foundation offers camperships for area youth between ages 6-17 to attend Camp Hertko Hollow, an Iowa camp for children and youth with diabetes,” says Holly Kanengieter, coordinator of the WMC Foundation. “The campership program is offered thanks to donations from the community dedicated to supporting local diabetes prevention and education – with special thanks to the Calmar Corvette Club,” she adds.
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, BSN, and certified 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. Kids can participate in traditional camp activities with others just like them.”
Carson and Morgan experienced all that camp had to offer. While at camp, they got to ride horses, learn archery, swim, play games, and more with other kids with diabetes. Carson says with a mischievous smile, “We played pranks on the other kids… that was really fun.”
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.”
Morgan says, “It was fun because we were with kids just like us. I hope I get to go to camp again next year!”