Tell us a little about the history of Gales Creek Camp.
Fifty-eight years ago a group of Portland based endocrinologists recognized the need for a specialized summer camp that addressed the medical needs of children with type 1 diabetes. During that first summer in 1954, 23 children graduated from our camp program, taking with them the necessary skills to monitor and manage their insulin-dependent medical needs for the rest of their lives. Over the last five decades, Gales Creek Camp has expanded its programs dramatically. We now serve over 440 children in ten residential summer camp sessions.
What are some of the most notable gifts or attributes kids take away each year?
Children learn to live fun-filled, active lives, while maintaining this chronic disease. They learn how food and activity affect glucose levels and the skills for monitoring those levels. Campers learn techniques for adjusting and administering insulin doses; many of our youngest campers give themselves injections for the first time while attending camp. Kids feel good knowing they’re not the only children with diabetes and they’re not alone.
Are there unique ways you teach them about self-care and health that they feel inspired?
Gales Creek Camp staff help children gain diabetes management independence through skill and confidence building. They provide a safe environment for type 1 children to feel “normal” among peers and a chance to experience the activities of summer camp.
What are some of the challenges kids with diabetes face?
Feeling alone — sometimes they are the only child in their school with diabetes. Also after having diabetes for a few years, they get burned out on the constant shots, set changes and finger pricks to monitor their blood glucose levels. When they reach teenage years sometimes they just want to not have diabetes anymore and this is when they lose control of their blood sugars and sometimes end up hospitalized. It’s our goal to help kids become independent with their diabetes care. Any lapse in care can end up with serious consequences.
How did you get started on doing the American Girl Fashion Show as a fundraiser?
Our executive director had taken her daughter to AG Fashion Shows in Portland years ago and so called the AG headquarters and asked if we could apply to do it here in Portland again. It had been several years since it had been here. It is a great event for our families as they can model, attend and also volunteer to help raise money for the camp they love so much.
What information do you hope attendees of this event walk away with?
The Fashion Show has many positive messages including empowering young girls to do great things as well as teach them manners, respect and American history. We also hope our attendees will go away with a greater knowledge of our camp programs, and feel good about supporting our goal to make sure every child with diabetes in the Northwest has a fun, safe camp to attend each summer at an affordable price.