“Diabetes can’t stop you from doing anything.
I probably won’t ever be able to be Survivorman
I probably won’t ever be able to be Survivorman or climb Mt. Everest, I distinctly remember thinking to myself in rebuttal to my parents' attempts to console me. I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to argue; I only wanted to pity myself. I was ten years old at the time and had just been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
Eight years later, I had to remind my parents of their words so they would allow me to spend a year of service and learning in India—a program that also happened to take me trekking through the Himalayans.
“How’re your blood sugars lately?” asked my instructor Jenny as we were walking across a misty clearing on the ridge of a Himalayan mountain chain at 10,000 ft. during our trek last month. I explained that my numbers were fine, and although a little more unpredictable due to the variable effects elevation had on my metabolism, insulin resistance, and meter accuracy, nevertheless under control and not in danger of tumbling dangerously low.
“Yah, to be honest, your medical needs were one of our primary concerns before we left, but seeing you in command over your health and even providing soft-skill support to this group over this past month have made me think of you as a foundation of support in this group instead of a risk to be managed.”
Her compliment meant a great deal to me and as I began to thank her for it, I realized so much of the credit was owed to Camp Nejeda. Eight summers of living with peers and counselors who have diabetes has given me a tremendous amount of knowledge and confidence in managing diabetes. Each day at Camp Nejeda showed me the truth of my parents’ consolation as the people around me proved it in their lives. Camp gave me counselors who spent weeks camping in the wilderness, friends who cycled thousands of miles competitively, and dozens of role models and friends who always kept their diabetes under control—not the other way around.
That was clear, but as the conversation shifted to the challenges of living in a group, of cultivating a spirit of comradery, and of learning to depend on one another I again realized that Camp Nejeda had been instrumental in first, as a camper, welcoming me into a true community of people who loved and cared for each other and then, as a counselor, trusting me to cultivate that same culture. So while Jenny explained how important those soft skills are when sending a group of students to some of the most remote corners of the world I understood how the Camp Nejeda sticker on my water bottle wasn’t the only thing from camp I was taking into those corners. I AM NEJEDA!
If you share Jack's belief that diabetes can't stop a person from doing anything, absolutely anything, please show your support by making a donation today. Your gift will enable Camp Nejeda to continue helping children with diabetes write their personal stories of empowerment and diabetes independence. Camp Nejeda is the sum of many committed and passionate individuals like you. Nejeda is family and your family needs you. WE ARE NEJEDA.
In 2015 Jack participated in a Q&A session with a group of Nejeda campers and counselors to learn more about the impact of the Camp Nejeda experience. Here's what Jack had to say about his personal experience at camp.
How would you describe Camp Nejeda to someone who has never been there or another child who is thinking of attending camp?
JACK: It's a place where everyone can feel at home. There's a lot of love and a lot of fun here.
What is one of the most important things you learned at Camp Nejeda?
JACK: I learned how to really appreciate different people for different reasons.
How have your experiences at Camp Nejeda affected your life outside of camp?
JACK: Knowing that all of these other amazing people are dealing with and beating their diabetes to cope with the disease. I think everybody serves as each other's inspiration.
Do you think your life would have been different if you hadn't attended Camp Nejeda? If so, Why and how?
JACK: I've met some of my closest friends and spent some of the best weeks of my life at Nejeda. I often think that Nejeda makes having diabetes more worth it.
What are your favorite activities at Camp Nejeda?
JACK: Capture the Flag, Dutch Auction, Gold Rush, Water Polo, Cabin time.
Describe yourself at Camp Nejeda in one word. (Ex. Athlete, Outgoing, Leader, etc.)
Explain how this word fits you at Camp Nejeda:
JACK: I don't think I stick out in any one way. I just try to be a solid guy all the way around.
When you leave Camp Nejeda, what's the one thing that sticks with you?
JACK: Being kind and working hard for other people.
BE AWESOME. BE INDEPENDENT. BE SOLID. BE LIKE JACK.
Camp Nejeda has been providing empowering summer camp and other programs for children with type 1 diabetes and their families since 1958. In addition to providing eight weeks of traditional summer sleepaway camp programs, Camp Nejeda offers Family Camps, Spring and Fall weekend programs, Day Camps, Survive and Thrive Bootcamp weekend for Adults with type 1 diabetes, Nurse Education seminars and much more. Please explore our website and don't hesitate to contact us with any questions. 973-383-2611 or email.
Camp Nejeda's programs are funded by the Camp Nejeda Foundation, Inc. a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Charitable contributions support the camp's operations and its Campership programs which has provided financial assistance to thousands of Nejeda campers since 1958. Click here to make a tax-deductible via our secure website.