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Happy campers

Last January, the Gay Lea Foundation announced a $7,500 grant to support Diabetes Canada’s Camp Jean Nelson, a summer camp for children living with Type 1 diabetes in Alberta.

Camp Jean Nelson is part of Diabetes Canada’s D-Camps, a network of summer camps across Canada that provide an authentic camp experience with around the clock medical supervision. While building outdoor living skills and participating in activities like swimming and creative arts , campers have, on average, 20 medical staff on site to care for their needs. At Camp Jean Nelson alone, there were specialist doctors, medical and nursing students, nurses, and registered dietitians on-site during every session.

At all D-Camps, medical staff and counsellors work to understand each campers’ normal insulin levels and how activities may impact their dosage. Blood glucose levels are tested throughout the day, and campers are monitored overnight. “This camp gives my son the ability and the comfort of experiencing camp like any other kid, with the added security of having medical professionals on site watching over him,” says a parent of a camper.

Providing specialized medical support is a significant undertaking for Diabetes Canada. D-Camps are operated on a subsidized fee model to allow children from all economic backgrounds to attend. Funds from the Gay Lea Foundation were used towards direct expenses, letting Camp Jean Nelson continue to operate on a subsidized model.

Another benefit of D-Camps is that campers are surrounded by other kids who are living with Type 1 diabetes. This allows campers to meet other kids who share the same experiences and challenges, creating a sense of community and belonging. The children also learn skills to take ownership of their health and manage their Type 1 diabetes.

“D-Camp is a life-changing opportunity for youth with Type 1 diabetes to break free of the isolation diabetes can create, to build the foundation of good health, and to discover that diabetes may create challenges, but that no barrier it builds is insurmountable,” said Scott McRae, Diabetes Canada’s Regional Director, Alberta and Northwest Territories. “We are so blessed to have generous donors like the Gay Lea Foundation that make these camps a possibility. They gift to these campers a brighter, more hopeful future.” “

A few months ago, my daughter was struggling with ‘being the only one’ with diabetes,” says a parent of a Camp Jean Nelson camper. “I thought that meeting others with diabetes would help. It has.”


Diabetes Canada leads the fight against diabetes in Canada. Active in more than 150 communities across the country, the organization works to works to build awareness of the disease and its implications, prevent its onset and consequences, and help those affected live healthy lives by supporting them through research, advocacy, education and services.

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