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Children's diabetes camp in P.E.I. to close, merge with one in Nova Scotia

The younger children, ages 7-10, from the Cavendish and Bedeque bunks play Gaga Ball at Camp Red Fox in Canoe Cove in this file photo. Diabetes Canada has announced it is closing the diabetes camps in P.E.I. and New Brunswick and merging them with the camp in Nova Scotia.
The younger children, ages 7-10, from the Cavendish and Bedeque bunks play Gaga Ball at Camp Red Fox in Canoe Cove in this file photo. Diabetes Canada has announced it is closing the diabetes camps in P.E.I. and New Brunswick and merging them with the camp in Nova Scotia. - The Guardian

CANOE COVE, P.E.I. - A former camper and instructor at a P.E.I. camp for children with type 1 diabetes said he frustrated and sad the national organization has shut them down.

Anthony Millar of Tyne Valley said staff got a letter last week from Diabetes Canada informing them that Camp Red Fox in Canoe Cove in P.E.I. and Camp Dia-Best at Green Hill Lake, N.B., will close and the children will instead be sent to Barss Corner, N.S.

The camp is for children ages seven to 14.

“It was frustrating and saddening,’’ Millar said. “We understand that it was probably a financial decision. It is known that more organizations are having a harder time fundraising money but it’s more . . . feeling bad for the parents because now they have to leave the Island to have this opportunity and a lot of them are already voicing their concerns.’’

“It’s been an institution on our Island for quite a long time so it’s not something we just had for a few years and just died off. It’s been around forever and the numbers keep rising.’’
-Anthony Millar

Jamie Gamble and Rocky Rankin decorate watering cups in their gardening class at Camp Red Fox in Canoe Cove in this file photo. Diabetes Canada has announced it is closing the diabetes camps in P.E.I. and New Brunswick and merging them with the camp in Nova Scotia.
Jamie Gamble and Rocky Rankin decorate watering cups in their gardening class at Camp Red Fox in Canoe Cove in this file photo. Diabetes Canada has announced it is closing the diabetes camps in P.E.I. and New Brunswick and merging them with the camp in Nova Scotia.

Millar said parents aren’t concerned about any lack of medical attention but are worried about the sheer distance between communities in P.E.I. and Barss Corner, located in the Annapolis Valley.

“That’s a four- or five-hour drive from most areas and it's not even the burden of the drive itself. It’s the fact that a lot of parents aren’t comfortable with their kids being so far away from them.’’

Related: Diabetes Canada says shutting down P.E.I., N.B. camps necessary for long-term sustainability

The camp is about making connections with other children with type 1 diabetes.

Millar said it helps kids learn diabetes management on their own because a lot of the time they go to school and don’t know any other kids with the disease so they feel alone. It’s also a place where friendships are built that last a lifetime. And, there is the sense of community that parents enjoy.

Poll: What's your reaction to the camp's closure? 

“Most of our activities are fun activities. We do some diabetes management skill sets but more things like camp fires, games, swimming, just (like) any regular camp, just with added diabetes stuff.’’

Millar was diagnosed with diabetes in 2000 and attending the camp as a teenager for two years. He’s been a counsellor at the camp for the past five years and has helped with fundraising.

“It’s been an institution on our Island for quite a long time so it’s not something we just had for a few years and just died off. It’s been around forever and the numbers keep rising.’’

Millar said Camp Red Fox had 58 kids last year and a waiting list on top of that.

“We were at capacity . . . and it gets busier with more numbers (every year). Where we’re at in Canoe Cove was at capacity so even if Camp Red Fox stayed (open) we almost would have to look at moving again, just for number’s sake.’’

A an online petition has been launched. See it here. As of late Tuesday afternoon, more than 400 people had signed it.

 

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