Diabetes Training Camp Review, Part 2 - About the Campers

At various points throughout the staff training on Sunday prior to DTC, Dr. Matt made it a point to reinforce that most importantly, "It was all about the campers." We were there to ensure that their week was fun, memorable and/or educational. Heading into Monday, I hoped I was up to the task.

Knowing there were no workouts scheduled for Monday, I drove my son to his last day of school and knocked out a quick 5 miles before reporting to camp. After breakfast, I made my way to where the campers would check in. My task was easy: be one of a few people to take them from registration to the dorm where they'd be staying.

Before long, the campers begin to arrive from all parts of the US... Northwest, West, Southeast... ages from 18 to 81(!), occupations from students to teachers and physicians, newcomers and returnees. All seemed happy (if travel-tired) to have made it.

The previous day, we had reviewed the camper bios and I had made special notice of the ones that had indicated an interest in running that week. I had done this because I'm miserable at remembering names and figured it was more important to focus on the smaller number of runners than all 21 campers. As I walked people to their rooms, however, I found myself enjoying the conversations regardless of their chosen sport. And in fact, trying to memorize who the runners were proved to be pointless, because I ended up getting to know all of the campers extremely well. Some of the best conversations I had were with people who had no interest in taking a step.

Some of the returning campers were completely at ease and it showed. They were relaxed and happy to be on campus. The new campers and I suspect, myself, were a bit more on edge, eager to get with the program but a little unsure what that meant.

Before long, however, most of the campers were accounted for. We went to the gym for more icebreaker activities, this time involving the campers and staff. After that, it was time for dinner, and after that, for me (the only commuter that week) home. Tuesday, after all, was the real beginning of camp.


The 4 main days of camp had similar schedules, though nobody had the opportunity to get bored. Morning lectures gave way to morning workouts. Afternoon lectures gave way to small group and individual counseling sessions. More lectures followed in the evening. It sounds overwhelming and in a way, it was. I went home after dinner every night exhausted by the day's activities, but eager for the next one to come. For those who stayed on campus, I imagine it was only more so.

As far as the lectures went, they were all incredibly interesting to me, though Coach Rick had teased me it was only because I was diabetic. "You oughta see yourselves looking so riveted when I can barely keep my eyes open!" he'd joked, but he was right. If you wanted to learn about how to manage your diabetes better, this was the place. From insulin to activity and diet strategies, I found something in nearly every lecture to do differently in my own life, and I was someone who had felt extremely confident in my plan before I arrived at camp.

But focusing on the lectures gives short credit to what really was happening for all of us between the lectures. Every conversation between each class, every story told during a workout... each of these served to bring us all closer in a way that I suppose only camp can. People with common interests will always bond. Stick them in the same place and the bonds are stronger. Send them on a run (or a ride) and they practically become like family. And in many ways, we did.

One of the things most surprising to me was mealtimes. I don't think I'm unlike a lot of people. At a venue like this, I'd naturally bond more with some people than others and seek them out at mealtimes. But here, I simply didn't care. Put me in any seat at any table with any of the campers and I felt right at home. They had so much to share and I had so much to learn and I looked forward to all of those conversations.

As far as the running went, I did my best to introduce the campers and staff to different terrains. We enjoyed rail trail runs, gravel trail runs and one final dirt run in the County Park. As expected, each enjoyed the very different courses to very different degrees and that was kind of the point; to find your own run. Our distances varied from two miles on the very technical trails to nearly five on the rail trails. Pace and distance were always chosen by the campers and I was supported by copious numbers of staff. In fact, if cycling was the most popular camper activity, running was certainly the most popular staff activity. "No shame in that," Coach Rick told me. "It's important to keep the staff happy, too."

And, of course, the running wasn't all about the runs. Many of the campers were avid runners who had paid a lot of money to ship their bikes to camp, so they felt the need to ride as much as possible. We still discussed running, training plans, etc. Though I understood their decision, I took it as my task to speak down about the cycling as much as possible.

And remarkably, camp was making me look at other sports besides running. I had a blast boxing and survived a grueling fitness circuit. After the first professional bike fitting of my life, I even had a great time on a 27 mile ride. By the end of the week, I was more sore than I'd been in a long time and my body, so used to being a runner, rewarded my well-roundedness with even better blood sugars than ever.

In fact, on the last day of camp I went to my pump to see how well my blood sugars had been throughout the week. I keep my targets on my insulin pump between 70-170. Periodically, I'll see how much time I am out of that range as a gauge to evaluate my control over a period of time. Generally speaking, I hope to keep that figure under 10%. Knowing that I had spent the week basically either exercising or thinking about my diabetes, I expected good numbers and I wasn't disappointed. On the last day of camp, my insulin pump showed that I had been over 170 for 3.2% of the time since camp had started and under 70 .2% of the time. In terms of diabetes management, it was a strong performance, and helped me to set my next goal for yourself.

But that's a story for the next blog post.


  1. This sounds like an absolutely amazing experience! Thanks for telling us a bit about it. :-)

  2. From: Darin Armstrong #TeamLIVESTRONG

    Hello Marcus,
    Just a quick email to ask if you would be interested in a ‘mutual’ following on twitter. (#FYI I do RT’s ‘ANYTIME’ for all #Triathletes #Cyclists #UltraRunners #Marathoners #FitnessProfessionals who follow me on Twitter and have something important they want mentioned for support…Over 41K folks at your access.) I am currently following you now and am awaiting for your follow-back...

    All the very best to you & yours for the rest of 2013 & beyond Marcus. Look forward to hearing from you…

    (PS. Marcus, should you follow back, I'll be mentioning you in my #FollowFriday #Shoutouts this week...)



Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Sh*t Diabetics Say

The gun in my basement.

Jon Obst - RIP