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“I feel like camp has changed the way I look at having diabetes. I love being around all of the great people here!”

Receiving feedback such as the quote above from a Camp Hamwi participant is like music to the ears of the Central Ohio Diabetes Association (CODA). Each year since 1968, CODA has held camp programming during the summer months. Camp Hamwi has provided life-saving disease management skills for thousands of youth living with diabetes in a safe, recreational environment. The camp is named after Dr. George Hamwi, a co-founder of CODA.

At camp, youth ages 7-17 learn the importance of good diabetes control in their childhood and for a lifetime. In addition to Camp Hamwi, there is a program called Stepping Stones, a transitional day camp for children ages 8-12, and Kids Camp for children ages three to seven. The 2021 camp season welcomed 11 campers to Kids Camp, 23 to Stepping Stones, and 199 to Camp Hamwi.

Returning to in-person camp programming would not be possible without the generous support of CODA funders. The Franklin County Community Partnership Grant Program through the Franklin County Commissioners has helped each year since 2013. This year, 77 campers came from Franklin County. The continuous support from the Franklin County Commissioners enables campers to get the most out of camp, including a personal diabetes management plan. The plan includes: A healthy meal plan, regular physical exercise, regular checks of blood glucose levels, and taking diabetes medications as prescribed.

Another longtime supporter of LifeCare Alliance and CODA camps is the Ingram-White Castle Foundation. The Foundation especially supports programs that address a critical human service need. Without this significant funding, CODA would not be able to provide scholarships for campers that attend each summer. One of the many critical skills attained at CODA’s youth and camp programs are self-care skills such as blood sugar testing, insulin injections, and the importance of adhering to diet and exercise regimens.

Three teenage male campers in a canoe at Camp Hamwi

The Harry C. Moores Foundation, a longtime funder of not only CODA Camp but other LifeCare Alliance programs as well, is located in Columbus and supports camps in order to make an impact in child welfare throughout the state. This year camp welcomed youths from 39 Ohio counties with additional campers coming from West Virginia and Michigan. A number of campers reside in rural Ohio counties where they might be the only student in school with diabetes. Being able to interact with their peers who are also learning to manage their diagnosis can be a meaningful experience for those feeling isolated by their condition. A camper remarked, “I feel really glad I came to camp. I came not knowing anyone here, but over the week I made some really cool friends. I was nervous, but I am really happy I decided to come in the end and I will for sure come next year.”

At the end of camp staff completed a thorough outcome evaluation with participants and families to determine program and education components for the next year. The excitement and anticipation to return to camp was felt by everyone involved. “I love Camp Hamwi and I am excited to keep coming here as I grow older,” commented one camper. “Thank you for what you do to make Hamwi special!!!”

Without the support from the above listed funders and additional grants from The Knox County Foundation, CareSource Foundation, the Pickaway County Community Foundation, the Richland County Foundation, the Columbus Medical Association Foundation Youth Advisory Council, and the Tom E. Dailey Foundation, returning to in-person camp would not have been possible.

Thank you so much to all of our funders for making CODA camp successful in 2021!

-Stephanie Rowe Bencic, LifeCare Alliance