A Retreat for Families New to Diabetes
After Tracey Hummel's daughter Jordan was diagnosed with diabetes 12 years ago, she was unsure where to turn for answers. But when Jordan, now 18, attended an American Diabetes Association Diabetes Camp, the Hummels felt some camaraderie—both with the other campers and their parents. Soon afterward, the Hummels, of Hawthorn Woods, Ill., organized a golf outing to benefit the Association and really started connecting with other families of newly diagnosed kids with diabetes.
Jordan struggled with managing her diabetes, but after a few years she was able to control it with frequent testing, diet, and exercise. Other people noticed, too. Penny Kasprzak, program director at the ADA's Milwaukee office, knew Jordan from camp and reached out to her with a new opportunity: working with her parents as a host family for Camp Marrakesh, a retreat for families with kids newly diagnosed with diabetes.
"She saw such a miraculous change in Jordan," Hummel says. "She said, 'Jordan, you would be phenomenal.' " Camp Marrakesh offers children new to diabetes and their families a chance to meet other families like theirs. A host family (for the past few years, the Hummels), a lead physician, a lead dietitian, and other Association volunteers meet with 20 families to answer questions about living with diabetes. Topics vary each year and are led by the attendees, so everything's on the table, from dealing with uninformed in-laws to working with a school in providing children adequate diabetes care.
"It's an opportunity for us to provide them with networking and resources," says Kasprzak, noting that each family can bring up to eight people, so siblings, grandparents, and other caregivers can take part as well.
This year's retreat will take place September 20 to 22 in Rosholt, Wis., and costs $100 per family. Donations from Delta Dental and the local Lions Club, among others, help offset the costs, says Kasprzak.
Though Camp Marrakesh is only a weekend, the bonds formed between families often continue to hold years later, Hummel says. "I still stay in contact with a lot of these families that we met the first and second year," she says. "It's just nice to have a sounding board. It's a very valuable tool for these parents."
To learn about Camp Marrakesh or to sign up (spaces fill quickly), call the Milwaukee office at (414) 778-5500. To see if there's a retreat in your area, contact your local ADA office.