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Camp Buck Provides Fun & Support for Kids with Diabetes

Kelsey Buckley is a vibrant, active teen at South Tahoe High School. She loves to dance and is a competitive alpine skier and BMX racer. Because Kelsey seems like a typical healthy teenager, many are surprised to learn she has diabetes. “I don’t let diabetes stop me from doing what I love,” explains Kelsey.
A Place to Belong
Kelsey was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes before her second birthday. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body is unable to make enough insulin, the hormone that helps process sugar. Treatment requires daily blood testing to monitor and regulate insulin. For Kelsey, it also means wearing an insulin pump and monitoring her blood sugar 24 hours a day.
Kelsey remembers feeling “different” as early as preschool. “I was the only one in my preschool who had to go to two lunches,” she says. “Then, in elementary school, I had to visit the nurse several times a day.”
But when Kelsey was seven, her parents discovered Camp Buck. Each summer for one week, young campers with diabetes enter a world where their condition is the norm. There’s no need to explain blood sugar testing, finger pricks, insulin injections, ketones, or carb counting because everyone already understands. The camp is designed to help children develop relationships with those facing a similar health journey, improve social skills, and promote confidence and a feeling of being in control.
“Unless you have diabetes, you have no idea what it’s like,” says Kelsey. Her time at Camp Buck connected her with others who “get it.” “You know you aren’t alone. There’s always someone you can talk to.”
Support to Follow Her Passions
Camp Buck has helped Kelsey build confidence, giving her determination and support to keep doing what she loves despite having diabetes. It isn’t always easy. Kelsey can’t wear her insulin pump when dancing or riding a BMX bike. Adrenaline and stress both affect her blood sugar, which, in turn, affects her performance. “Staying on top of my blood sugar levels is a challenge,” she says.
Meeting others at Camp Buck who understand what she’s going through has helped Kelsey manage these daily hurdles. She’s formed special friendships with people who are there for her when she needs to talk with someone who truly understands.
Camp Buck has also helped Kelsey learn how to manage her diabetes. A team of physicians, nurses, and a dietician provide daily workshops to educate the campers.
Kelsey’s mother, Pallas, appreciates everything the camp has done for Kelsey. “It’s nice to be able to send her off to camp and know that she’s in a safe place where she can gain new perspectives,” she says.

Children with diabetes are welcome to join other campers (ages 7 to 14) and counselors-in-training (ages 15 to 17) at Camp Buck . Camp Buck takes place at Grizzly Creek Ranch in Portola, Calif., and is hosted by the California and Nevada Diabetes Associations. Camp scholarships are available from the Barton Foundation. If you know a child in the South Tahoe region living with diabetes who would like to attend Camp Buck, call the Barton Foundation at 530.543.5882.