Saturday, September 19, 2009

A tale of summers past...

Summer has definitely (and obviously) changed since my college days and becoming a mom. As much as I LOVE being a mom, sometimes I wish I could go back to those carefree summers full of traveling and fun.

I would always take the first session of summer classes so I could get them out of the way and get on to the fun stuff: I spent at least 4 weeks every summer volunteering at camps for kids with Type 1 diabetes.

It all started when I was diagnosed with Type 1 when I was 11. It was August of 1993 and I had lost about 20 pounds in the last 2.5 weeks of summer camp, I was drinking literally gallons of water a day and using the bathroom every 15-20 minutes. My mom knew there was something wrong, so off to the doctor it was. After about 30 seconds he told me I had diabetes and off to the hospital for a week it was. I was totally miserable and in the "why me" phase for a few weeks until I realized that it could be worse-I could have cancer or something that was much worse.

The following spring I was invited to spend a week at our state diabetes camp. I was super excited to be able to spend a week away from mom, and be with other kids who knew exactly what I was feeling. I had an awesome week, and was looking forward to going back. Unfortunately, I wasn't ever able to go back. My brother and I ended up having to spend the whole summer (every summer until I was about 16) in Wisconsin with our dad, so camp was out.

I had always had fond memories of the week I spent at camp that summer, so while looking for volunteer opportunities during my freshman year of college, it occurred to me that I should look into camps. The first one I looked into was of course Florida camp since that is the one I had attended. I also knew some people who volunteered at Camp Kudzu in Georgia, so I sent in my paperwork to them as well.

After a few weeks of phone calls and emails, I was all set to go. I was doing 3 weeks of Florida camp and 1 week of Camp Kudzu. For Florida I was doing the Pee-Wee camp for kids ages 5-8, and 2 of the older kids sessions (for ages 11-14). At Kudzu I was only doing a week, but working with the 8-9 year olds.

That was the best summer of my life! Spending 24 hours a day with the girls was awesome! We did more activities than I could count, and had more fun that I thought was possible. Even though as counselors we only got about 4 hours of sleep a night, I was never tired (until I got home and slept for 20 hours straight)! Seeing camp from the counselor perspective was much different than I imagined. I never knew how much time and effort the counselors put in to making camp so amazing and making sure the campers didn't feel different or that diabetes was running their life.

After that summer, I decided that I would spend my summer volunteering for as long as possible. I did my camps all through college and for the next 3 years after I graduated. Then, in the summer of 2007 I was pregnant with Olivia so my camp days were over. That summer was pretty hard knowing exactly when camp sessions were going on and I was stuck at home. I know that I will definitely go back as soon as Olivia is old enough to go with me (probably when she is 5 and I can go back to Pee-Wee camp). Until then, every now and then during the summer I pull out old scrapbooks and pour over my hundreds of pictures and even dig out the book (yes BOOK-43 pages), I wrote as a college class project that documented just one week of the best summers of my life....

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