Diabetes Camps: A Family Affair
Medical volunteer Laurie Diasio, RN, shares camp with her son
In the year 2000, Laurie Diasio, a nursing student at the time, attended a fateful seminar. The dietitian running the class sat on the ADA Diabetes Camp committee board for Northern Illinois and recommended a volunteer medical position to Diasio that summer. Diasio was no stranger to diabetes—she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 3 years old, and her father was diagnosed with type 1 at 19. “So diabetes has always been a really big part of life,” she says.
That year, she graduated from nursing school then went to camp—and it stuck. “I remember that first year that I did it, there was a group of girls walking down to the dining hall, and they were talking about when they were diagnosed and how they felt,” she says. “And I thought, ‘This is what camp is all about.’ ”
This July, Diasio, 44, is returning for her 16th year as a medical volunteer at Triangle D Camp in northern Illinois. As the health team coordinator, she works under the attending physician, provides orientation for the medical staff, sets the schedules, runs the midnight glucose checks, helps out during mealtimes, and makes sure everyone is where they are supposed to be during the day.
But Diasio offers more than expertise to her campers. She’s also a role model. “I know when I was at camp and I was pregnant, I was kind of a novelty, not only for the girl campers, but the teens,” she says. It showed that becoming pregnant was a possibility, even if you have diabetes, she says.
The teens asked her questions about how hard it was to be pregnant and how often she tested her blood glucose. “It puts in perspective that I’m a role model,” she says, “and that every year, we have these wonderful med staffers that are able to care for these kids and just help them mature in their disease and their disease management.”
One camper that looks up to Diasio? Her 12-year-old son, Nick, who was diagnosed with type 1 when he was 9 years old and also attends Triangle D Camp. He’s had a couple “firsts” there, says Diasio, like giving himself his first injection and changing his first pump site. But his favorite parts of camp are connecting with other campers and the activities. “He loves all the normal activities he’s able to do, because we have the medical staff to support that,” she says.