I first attended Camp Nejeda, a dedicated camp for kids with type 1 diabetes at age 12. I worked there as a counselor as well for several years. The camp wasn’t just about being surrounded by others who “get it” but also a place we learned about nutrition and overall diabetes education. It was also the place that helped me to positively identify with having diabetes, and to this day still carry that with me.
For close to 10 years I didn’t have a close connection to Camp, besides the friends that I met there. Thanks to social media, and a camp alumni Facebook group, I reconnected and re-engaged.
In 2013 the camp had an alumni weekend which was a lot of fun. We were able to re-connect, hang out a camp, and learn through a diabetes educator about new insulin pumps, and have our questions answered. The program as repeated in 2014, but without a plan, and left many of us feeling like it was a wasted weekend.
That’s when the lightbulb in my head clicked – to try and mimic what we had access to as campers, but for adults. I helped to create a list of topics, and market the event which launched as the Camp Nejeda Survive and Thrive Bootcamp for adults with type 1 diabetes, and launched for the first time in 2015, which drew in a lot of Camp alumni who, like me, weren’t connected to Camp for some time.
Starting in 2016 I took a hands-on role, actives included and still do:
• Establish program milestones; oversee deadline completion, as well as risk assessment and tracking resulting in keeping the program on time and on budget.
• Investigate and select topics, facilitators, and vendors through social media, networking, and online surveys, safeguarding program meets needs of participants.
• Secure in-kind donations and corporate sponsorships, offsetting developmental and operational costs.
• Serve as liaison between vendors and the program ensuring timely communications and responses to keep the program on track.