Camp Stories – Diabetes Education & Camping Association

My First Day of Camp

By Katie Risch

At the age of 15, I attended my first summer at Camp EDI. I will never forget the first day of camp. As my mother drove me in, tears ran down my face because I didn’t want to participate in the experience. I was worried that the way I managed this daily disease would be criticized, but instead, I found complete acceptance. I learned a lot over the course of my three years as a camper. Read more

During those three years I learned many important lessons about type 1. One of the most valuable lessons was how important it was for youth to have a place they felt they belonged, a place where they could find support in managing diabetes. Camp allowed me to make lifelong friends that have stuck with me throughout the years. To this day, I still lean on these friends when diabetes days are long and hard. On those days, I remember the blessings that have come from diabetes, which has brought great people into my life, and allowed me to find a career that I am passionate about, CAMP!

After each summer at camp, I had a stronger desire to keep working hard and becoming a healthier person. I wanted to be a role model to those living with diabetes. As soon as I discovered that I could make a professional career from camping I knew that this was the right path for me.

It has truly changed my life! I recently graduated from Western Illinois University with my degree in Recreation, Park & Tourism Administration with an emphasis in Camping Administration and Adventure Recreation. As I walked across the stage, I reflected on my journey with diabetes, the highs and lows, and felt grateful for the path I chose. I have spent the past ten summers working at camp, and have been blessed to spend the last four with Camp EDI.

The last day of camp, my mother greeted me and I had tears streaming down my face. This time, I didn’t want to leave this amazing place where, for the first time, I experienced hope. I now get to experience that with my campers on the last day of camp. I see the same hope in their eyes. Hope that each summer we will gather in this great place with friends and that someday there will be a cure!