Allison Blass, Lemonade Life
When I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 8, I was not happy. Gratitude toward diabetes was the furthest thing from my mind. I hated diabetes. It was annoying. It hurt. It stressed me out. It stressed my parents out. It made me do things I didn't like. I couldn't eat or drink the same things that my little brother could. It was horrible.
As I grew up, my attitude toward diabetes did begin to change. The catalyst for that change was diabetes camp. I attended a diabetes camp called Gales Creek Camp, located in the forests of Oregon. It is beautiful. There is a swimming pool, a big field to play games, plenty of forest to go hiking, and a literal Gales Creek. Our camp counselors were hilarious and fun, and some of them even had type 1 diabetes too! They totally "got" diabetes. I met lots of kids with diabetes, and I even joined a little "clique" called the Camo Crew, which was made up of 7 of us, 4 girls and 3 guys. We gave ourselves our own "camp" nicknames (all our counselors went by nicknames, and we all wanted to be counselors someday). I was Angel. We ate together, stood in line to get our blood sugar checked together, and we always had our bunks near each other. There was a sense of family with the Camo Crew, a familiarity that I have never had with any other group of friends.
When we weren't in camp, we kept in touch through the phone, email and Instant Messenger. We sometimes saw each other at other diabetes events around town. I lived near a couple others, so we would sometimes see a movie together or just hang out at each other's houses. One guy from the Camo Crew was even my prom date! Like most groups of hormonal teenagers, we had our ups and downs. We fell in love, we broke up. We shared stories and secrets. We trusted each other, and sometimes, because people are stupid, that trust was broken. I learned a lot about myself, both as a person and as a person with diabetes, from the Camo Crew. Perhaps I would have found that experience through another group, but I think that the emotional bond and instinctive honesty that came with sharing a chronic illness made the Camo Crew exceptional.
Nowadays, we don't keep in touch as often. Nothing gold can stay, right? Through the miracle of Facebook, I still have some idea of what everyone is doing. Two are married, one of us (me) is engaged. Another has two kids. Two of us live on the East Coast now, while the rest are still in Oregon. It certainly isn't the same as the reunions at camp. Luckily, I feel like I have joined a new Camo Crew - and it's called the Diabetes O.C. Even though I don't see most of the people in the D.O.C., we share that same familiarity and bond that I had when I was a teenager going to camp. We "get" each other in a way no one else can, and I am incredibly grateful for that.