American Diabetes Association Diabetes Camps are offered each summer to nearly 6,000 youth with diabetes across the United States. Camps are designed to facilitate a traditional summer camp experience in a medically-safe environment while fostering opportunities for children to develop basic diabetes self-care skills, overcome feelings of isolation, and gain self-confidence. In 2019, a study was conducted to assess the impact of camp on 1) knowledge of diabetes management, 2) ability to independently manage diabetes, and 3) emotional well-being of youth campers with type 1 diabetes.

A survey was administered via online questionnaires to caregivers of camp participants 1-week prior to camp (N=4,562) and 1-month post-camp (N=1,484). Key demographics were collected representing results from 55 summer camps across the country (55% female, mean age 12, 46% diagnosed ≤ 4 years, 10% diagnosed ≤ 1 year). Paired samples analysis using Wilcoxon signed-rank tests was performed to assess the level of change on each individual camper from pre-camp to one-month post-camp (N=1,343 pairs).

One month following camp, camper knowledge of diabetes management skills increased 31% after camp, and 38% of campers increased their confidence to try new methods to manage their diabetes. Campers’ ability to independently solve problems related to their diabetes management increased 17%, and 97% of campers were able to independently perform at least one diabetes management skill, such as draw up insulin, give own injections, or change pimp site. In addition, camper self-confidence increased 30%, and feelings of negative emotions decreased 31%. A statistically significant increase was seen in each measure (p≤0.001).

The evidence indicates that camp positively impacts a wide-range of camper outcomes, with more substantial improvement seen among younger campers and newly diagnosed campers. Future research will be conducted to better understand the longer-term impact of camp among return-campers.


R. Woolley: Employee; Self; American Diabetes Association. S. Amanat: None. K. Mueller: None.

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