Camper Families – Diabetes Education & Camping Association

Diabetes camps Inspire Health and Confidence in children and others living with diabetes.

Why Camp?
Diabetes camps help children affected by diabetes lead healthier, happier and more productive lives through good diabetes management and wholesome fun.  

“I just got back from camp (again) and I have to say ten years is not nearly enough.  When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I was only 6 years old and I was scared and felt very alone.  A friend of ours in the Lions Club suggested that my parents take me and my brother to a family camp session the next month.  Being at camp made me feel like I belonged, and not only has the experience helped me, it has also helped my friends and family understand, and to help me with my diabetes.” Allison, age 16

“It’s the best best experience for your kids! It’s fun, educational but most of all, empowering. They are WELL taken care of and YOU need the break. Go for it!! It will be life changing!” Parent

“Going to camp was so important to me as a 7-year-old, because it was my time to be independent, playful, and free. I still feel that way as a 28-year-old, and it has changed the lives of everyone in my family.” Cammie Allen, now age 28

Kids love summer camp. Kids with diabetes are no exception.
Diabetes camps are proven to improve disease self-care.

Children with diabetes can strive to accomplish anything in life.  Diabetes camps operate on sound principals of diabetes management and youth development so that youth can learn to manage their diabetes.  Peers and dedicated professionals provide motivation and support, as well as acceptance, understanding, excitement, and adventure.

Diabetes camps know how to handle your child’s medical needs

Physicians, nurses, dietitians

Trained counselors who understand

Well equipped for general health and psychosocial needs

Diabetes management routines and protocols

Diabetes camps are fun!

Every year, over 20,000 children in North America join to share diabetes and fun with friends.

  • Hike, swim, kayak canoe, paddle board
  • Arts and crafts, music, drama
  • Basketball, soccer, football, gaga and just plain fun on fields and courts
  • Hang out time with new friends
  • Evening programs
  • Adventure camps, sailing and ski camp – specialty programs
  • Lots more!

Actual activities will vary by camp, location and ages served.

Types of Diabetes Camps and Programs

There are numerous types of diabetes camps and program.  Click here to find one that is in your area or meets your needs.  Programs vary based on the capacity of the organization hosting them, and may include:

    • Family weekend programs
    • Teen retreats
    • Co-ed overnight camps, lasting from 4 days to over one week
    • Sibling weekends
    • Bring a family to camp
    • Sports and excursion camps
    • Day camps, primarily for the very young
    • Holiday retreats

DECA’s member camps represent a variety of organizational and ownership models:

    • Several are owned and operated by the American Diabetes Association
    • Some are run by hospitals and clinics
    • Some cover more than one state
    • Most are independent nonprofit organizations

Diabetes camps offer unique and exciting opportunities.  You can find camps that feature back-country adventures, surf and ski programs, day camps, specialized trips, family camps or “bring a friend” programs.  Many camps now offer weekend and school vacation programs so that kids don’t have to wait until summer. 

How do diabetes camps vary?

Some are accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA).  ACA accredited camps have passed over one hundred quality standards.

Some own their site and facilities; some rent; some partner with special camps that are dedicated to many children with medical and life challenges.

Some pay or grant stipends for all or most of their counseling and activity staff.  Many rely on trained volunteers who work only for smiles, cheers and a tee shirt.

Most rely on volunteer medical staff.  A few pay stipends to key leaders such as the Dietary Coordinator, Head Nurse or summer long nursing staff.

Some deliver diabetes education in “teachable moments” and through experiential learning opportunities. Some have classroom settings or other formal curriculum.

Length of session, location, daily schedule all vary by camp.

Check out Find A Camp, then click the links to the websites of camps that interest you to learn more!


Most camps charge registration and program fees.  And most camps charge fees that are far below their actual costs so that camp can be affordable.  For low-income households or those experiencing financial stress, most camps also offer scholarships to ensure that all children and teens living with diabetes have access to diabetes camps.

Please check for details for specific camps on Find A Camp.