Fascinating games

Summer fun and games, plus type 1 diabetes care for kids

ASSONET — For most of the day, Camp Jack works much like your typical summer camp. The children are playing ball. They shoot basketballs. They swim in pools. They do arts and crafts, play fun games.

But Camp Jack – camp within a camp at Welch camp – is not your typical summer camp. At 10 a.m., at noon, then at 2 p.m., recreational activities come to a standstill. Campers congregate at designated locations to have their blood sugar tested.

Camp Jack is for children ages 5-14 who have Type 1 diabetes, as well as their family members and friends. The camp, named for the late local businessman Jack Rua, is all about having fun, but also about providing type 1 diabetes education to everyone involved.

“I like it because all the activities we do are really fun,” said camper Leo Papas, 9, of Dartmouth. “Everyone is so responsible for my diabetes, my blood sugar and all the carbs. And they’re always on the lookout in case I’m low, high. I feel really safe here.

Isaac Tietze and Christian Ferreira at Camp Jack, which is for children aged 5 to 14 with type 1 diabetes, as well as their family members and friends.

Everything from swimming pools to basketball… to nurses?

Camp Jack lasts six weeks, with the majority of campers spending several weeks. Previously located in Rehoboth, the camp found its new home at Camp Welch five years ago and the layout has been made to measure. Camp Jack occupies the delightfully breezy, shaded area of ​​the cabins, which the Boys and Girls Club used years ago for overnight campers. Although it operates separately from the Boys and Girls Club summer camp, Camp Jack has extensive access to two swimming pools, basketball courts and other recreational areas.

The staff includes three nurses. All staff members are trained by a Certified Diabetes Educator. Camp Jack participants must be either young people with type 1 diabetes or a friend or family member. Many of the camp mentors (paid staff aged 16 and over) are former campers themselves. Camp counselors must be 18 years of age or older and have at least one year of college education under their belt.

Camp Jack is not your typical summer camp.  At 10 a.m., at noon, then at 2 p.m., recreational activities come to a standstill.  Campers congregate at designated locations to have their blood sugar tested.  And Camp Jack employs three nurses, Kayla Cosmo, Nicole Pereira and Alison Battista.

“Our goal is to create friendships between children who are diagnosed with a chronic illness, who in their classrooms tend to be the only student who can be identified in their school as a type 1 diabetic. “said Melissa St. Pierre, camp director. and Director of Workforce and Community Partnerships at People Incorporated. “We help children learn to manage and build friendships through diabetes care.”

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The camp – formerly known as Camp Kyle – has been around for over a quarter of a century. It started at the Fall River Rod & Gun Club in Westport, then at the Boy Scouts of America’s Camp Buxton in Rehoboth before being welcomed to Camp Welch by the Boys and Girls Club. In 2009, the Diabetes Association, Inc. became a subsidiary of People Incorporated. Jack Rua was a driving force in the development of the DAI and served as its president.

United Way, said Bill Perkins, chief operating officer of People Inc., has provided significant financial support to Camp Jack.

Diabetes supplies at Camp Jack.

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What campers think

“I love Camp Jack because of the people you meet here,” said Fall River camper Jordan Thiboutot, 14, from Somerset, who has been at camp since he was 8 and wants to become a counsellor. “They are just very nice and tolerant. And I feel like they’re friends that I’m going to know for a long time, and they’re really amazing. The games and activities we do here are amazing. And the counselors and the CITs (counselors in training) and the mentors, they’re supportive, they’re helpful, and they’re nice, and they’re funny. And they really know how to take good care of us.

2019 Somerset Berkley Regional High School graduate Ethan Lazaro with campers Greyson Pacheco and Arianna Machado.  Lazaro said he learned that every camper is different, despite having the same type 1 diabetes diagnosis.

Camp assistant director Ethan Lazaro, who graduated from Somerset Berkley Regional High School in 2019, said Camp Jack’s education doesn’t just apply to campers. “I’ve learned a lot more than an average person,” he said, “not just from the diabetes education we get, but just from experiencing what it’s like with kids and how “every person is different with every diagnosis. No child is the same when it comes to type 1 diabetes.”

Camper Dean Roberts, 7, from Raynham, willingly shared his thoughts on Camp Jack.

“The activities are so much fun, I like it,” he said. “There are a lot of nice people. And we play a lot. We swim a lot. And we can go to the playground, play basketball.

The Jack Rua Invitational Golf Tournamentto benefit DAI and Camp Jack, is scheduled for September 13 at Crestwood Country Club in Rehoboth.