If you’ve had type 1 diabetes (T1) for many years, you may have attended a diabetes camp as a child.I was diagnosed as an adult at the age of 48 so I never grew up knowing any other people with the same type of diabetes as me, or going to a diabetes camp where I could make friends and be with others who could truly understand what life is like living with our condition. Connected in Motion Catalina is like going to diabetes camp, but for adults. It’s almost like going to a weekend-long DiabetesSisters meeting!
Participating in my third year, I already knew what to expect. It was so nice to see some other returning faces as well. What was so unexpected was how much attendance had grown since the first year. Attendance has now doubled, and there were more than 60 of us all getting together, having fun, and learning from one another in the most beautiful setting – Catalina!
New this year was another improvement – a private boat chartered which took us directly to our camp. In previous years, we would have to take the Catalina Express to the main drop-off, disembark with all our belongings, then re-board tiny boats with all our luggage for another 30 minute boat ride to camp. The “camp” is actually a Boy Scout camp – very primitive, but clean cabins with the basics. We had to bring our own sleeping bags, pillows, towels, etc. Just like camp as a kid, we had a lot of stuff!
Upon arrival, we were given the general talk from the camp staff about safety and what to expect while we were there. The Connected in Motion staff superbly coordinated all our activities and discussion groups, right down to the Saturday night s’mores and singing around the campfire.
Some of the activities available throughout the day included hiking, snorkeling, paddle-boarding, kayaking, yoga, and archery. Many diabetes-related activities were also scheduled throughout the day, including a very memorable talk by Adam Brown, author of “Bright Spots and Landmines.” He was both an attendee and a guest speaker, and I think he had the most valuable information based on his book, which I highly recommend. (Attendees received a copy at camp.)
I was so happy to share this experience with Melva, a member of the PODS Meetup that I lead with members from the greater Ventura County/San Fernando Valley, CA area. Melva has had T1 for more than 50 years! I was so impressed with her tenacity in participating in all the activities and the very fast-paced schedule. Another highlight of my trip was meeting so many great people living well with diabetes and keeping a really positive attitude. One more highlight for me was meeting a woman in her 40s who was newly diagnosed only 4 months prior. Like me, she was very overwhelmed and depressed with her diagnosis, and poured her heart and soul out to us. But she also had an open heart and open mind and learned a great deal from us too. Not only did I help her get into her very first kayak, but I also kept in touch with her afterward. Within a month of our Catalina experience, she started using a cgm and an insulin pump. I'm so impressed by this woman!
The 3 years I have attended have been a major highlight of my life. Connected in Motion plans on continuing this annual event in Catalina, and I hope more Diabetes Sisters and other adults with type 1 will take advantage of this incredibly memorable event and join me in the future.
~Gayle McKenna, PODS Leader, DiabetesSisters of Ventura County/San Fernando Valley, CA