We’re the Girls from Barton Camp You Hear So Much About…

October 31, 2012By 2 Comments

When most people bring up a favorite childhood memory, or talk about their ‘roots’ and where they came from that helped shape who they are today, they get a nostalgic look on their face and their eyes seem to go to a place that is so secret and protected in their memory that no one can get in.  This place for me is Clara Barton Camp.  It has changed names over the years and has had many different leaders, but to me it will always be CBC.  I still have all my old t-shirts that say CBC, and all my activity badges for accomplishments at such things as archery, swimming, and arts and crafts.  I have this old trunk that I just took back from my parents house, that I used so many summers ago as a storage container for all my basic necessities to take with me during my favorite two weeks of the year.

Camp was a place that not only could I be myself but I could be a diabetic without having to talk about it 24/7, because everyone there just knew how to live with it as part of our daily lives.  I was able to meet some of the dearest friends and people who still remain an important part of my life and many who I hold dear to my heart even though I don’t talk to them or see them anymore.  Being able to have a low blood sugar and have someone help you without making a big deal about it, or helping someone else draw up their insulin for the first time, creates a bond that goes without saying.

To this day, half of my Facebook friends are my Barton Family.  I don’t think I would be half as confident about my pregnancy if it weren’t for the hundreds of pictures I see on Facebook everyday of the adorable and healthy children that my Barton diabetic friends have had.  I don’t know what kind of person I would be today if I had not one of those people to complain to, share stories with, or laugh hysterically over silly diabetic sayings and making fun of ourselves to lighten the mood.  Camp and the people I have in my present life and in my memories, have completely helped me become the confident and independent women with diabetes that I am today.  If it weren’t for my parents, having faith in the staff and in the program and dropping me off for 2 weeks when I was only 10 years old, I would for sure have a void in my life.

Every time I meet a family with a newly diagnosed child, I immediately start with”Have you considered camp?”  More often than not, I get an immediate hesitation and scared look from them, as if to say “no way am I letting my child out of my site until they have to go to college.”  I find myself, and the natural sales person that I am, selling them and practically begging them to embrace the idea of camp and what it would do for their child.  I can only imagine walking in the footsteps of a parent of a child with diabetes, as I only know what it’s like to be on my side of the pancreas.  I can imagine that there are a lot of control issues and fear of the unknown.  But when I see a 14-year-old with diabetes, who has never given themselves their own injections and hasn’t yet even begun to wrap their head around taking charge of their own disease, I can’t help but think of how camp could make things so much easier for them.  Teenage years are hard enough without diabetes, but at least with camp, you can always fit in, and you can learn how to make diabetes a part of you, instead of always chasing it around.  As I always like to say, it is what it is, and diabetes makes kids grow up really really fast.  Why not give a child with diabetes the opportunity to be part of something bigger than their disease?  A family of friends and a community who will be there with them for the rest of their life.

This past weekend I attended the annual Barton Center for Diabetes auction which was held at the boys camp, Camp Joslin, along with my parents.  Over the years, I try to stay as involved with camp as I am able to, whether it’s going to play my guitar at closing campfire, or presenting on nutrition to a group of parents and campers.  As life gets busy, it gets harder and harder to be there as much as I would like to, so taking the time out to give back is a small price to pay compared to all that camp has done for me.  Now, maybe it was just pregnancy hormones, but the peaceful and emotional feeling that comes over me when I am surrounded by those people and all of those fond memories overwhelm me.  So as the young staff stood at the front of the dining hall, with over 200 people there to support the cause, and starting chanting “We’re the Girls from Barton Camp you hear so much about…”, I quietly chanted along, and kept my happy tears to myself along with all the amazing memories that have helped me cope with my disease.  Thank you Barton!

PS – I left the auction with a prize possession, a watercolor painting of the Clara Barton Birthplace, which sits on the camp property as a reminder to all the humble beginnings of such a magical place.  I am not one to solicit very often, but if you are looking for a good cause to donate before the close of the year, there are MANY kids who cannot afford camp, so consider making a donation to the campership fund www.bartoncenter.org.

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  1. Tarah says:

    Greetings! Very helpful advice within this article! It is the little changes that make the most important changes.
    Thanks a lot for sharing!

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