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Every summer millions of kids head off to camp, getting a break from school and family. But what about children with diabetes, which requires continual medical support? Camp Surefire - now in its 15th season - provides a safe and fun environment for 80 diabetic campers, and a respite for their parents. As Jim Hummel found, it's a place where the campers don't have to explain to anyone what they're going through.
Lots of Swimming.
Trying new things like karate.
Arts and Crafts on a rainy day.
Or a rousing game of capture the flag.
And while they do all of that and much more at Camp Surefire - the kids here also continually monitor what they eat and test their blood sugar levels. That's because every camper here has Type 1 diabetes - what used to be called juvenile diabetes. For some of the campers here, it's all they've ever known.
Fox: ``These kids come in here and they look around and they know that everybody is in the same boat. Nobody is embarrassed about anything. Their meters come out, their insulin shots, they don't really care. It's really fantastic.''
Dr. Gregory Fox was an endocrine fellow at Hasbro Children's Hospital 13 years ago when he heard they needed a medical director at the camp, now in its 15th season. They call it Surefire because early on somebody said the camp was a surefire way to learn about diabetes. The families pay on a sliding scale, with donations and grants helping to subsidize the costs.
It started out as a single weekend with 25 kids at a campsite in Coventry and has since expanded to five days. Three years ago they moved to URI's Alton Jones campus in West Greenwich - and now have 80 campers, 25 counselors, a group of URI pharmacy students and a medical team of about a dozen that provides around-the-clock coverage. It's a year-round planning process to prepare .
Fox: Kids just don't show up with their backpacks and start for the session. They have all the medical supplies, so we work with medical supply companies insulin companies. We have medical volunteers to recruit . We have nurses and nutritionists. We have a full nutrition menu that we need to incorporate not only around diabetes, but more than 10 percent of our kids have Celiac disease as well.''