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Need reality check for week long field trip for 11 year old

Discussion in 'Parents of Children with Type 1' started by coni, Aug 27, 2013.

  1. coni

    coni Approved members

    Mar 23, 2006
    My DD just turned 11 less than a month ago and has recently started middle school. The school is private (it receives no federal funding). The middle school has a week-long field trip at a camp a little over an hour away from our home. The students will hike, work in the gardens, canoe, do ropes courses, etc. There is no doctor or nurse on staff. The trip is in three weeks.

    I recently trained the middle school staff (four teachers) in how to manage DD?s diabetes at school, in particular what to do in case of lows. At school during the day, DD tests herself, carbs are counted already because she brings her lunch, and she boluses for food. In these tasks, she?s fairly independent, although she needs oversight to remind her to check her BG at times. So far at school, things have gone smoothly, although she?s seen some 60?s before lunch that she?s treated with glucose tabs.

    The middle school lead teacher advised me that I would have priority as a chaperone on the field trip. We had discussed the field trip at the end of last school year before she even started middle school. The middle school teacher has now decided that I will be able to chaperone the first night only. Another child?s parent will chaperone Tuesday through Friday. No reason was given. I am unaware of any other child needing some sort of accommodation. I am mad about the teacher not keeping their word, but my main concern, of course, is DD?s safety. I am trying to figure out how to make the trip work.

    As far as I can tell, the middle school teachers expect DD to manage all of her care while on the trip. She has an Animas Ping, which she can operate as far as boluses, temp basals, and suspending. She doesn?t make the decision to run a temp basal, but can enter the temp basal if told she needs to. She cannot fill a cartridge (she doesn?t have the manual dexterity to do so), but she can do the rewind, load, prime, etc. She did her first site change with my guidance this week. I can keep working with her on this.

    DD ran low even with a 50% reduced basal when she took shorter outdoor overnight field trips in lower grades, so I know she needs a reduced basal from the very beginning of this trip. Honestly, I?m very concerned about the field trip. I think I wouldn?t be as concerned if I felt like the teacher understood what he was dealing with. The training I did at the beginning of the year was to keep DD safe at school during the school day, but there?s more involved, as you all know, on a trip like this. To top things off, there is little to no phone reception at the field trip site. I wouldn?t be as concerned if I knew I could communicate with DD on a regular basis, especially to get BG info before bed.

    I know my anxiety level about this is probably much higher than needed, and I know my anxiety is my problem. However, I?m concerned the school is asking too much of DD. (Who, by the way, will not say it?s too much, even if it is, unless she physically cannot perform the task, e.g. filling the cartridges.) What would you do to make sure your DD could attend the trip but be as safe as possible? What I?ve thought of so far is:
    ? request DD have oversight when performing most tasks;
    ? send prefilled cartridges;
    ? have a protocol for bedtime (in particular, an adult who will help check BGs or stay awake to remind DD to recheck if she?s low and has to treat before bed); and
    ? be willing to go to camp if they contact me for help, e.g. a pulled site, high BGs that won?t come down, etc.

    Sorry for the long post. I am clearly stressed. :( Any input you could provide would be appreciated. Thanks!
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Approved members

    Nov 20, 2007
    It is not up to the school personnel to determine how much responsibility your daughter has with her diabetes. That is your call. You are in charge of her care.

    They said you can chaperone the first night so go and do that. When the next chaperone comes they can take over chaperoning duties and you can stay and be there for your daughter if/when she needs you.

    I would also question a school that goes on a week long camping trip without some kind of nurse or medical person. Do they have a plan on how to handle injuries/illnesses that may arise?
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2013
  3. Sarah Maddie's Mom

    Sarah Maddie's Mom Approved members

    Sep 23, 2007
    I would feel that I needed to go along. The school needs to explain why you have been bumped as a chaperone. If the other child needs support then both sets of parents need to go. The school is failing to appreciate the relentless nature of Type 1 and the only one who can impress this upon them is you. Time to call a meeting.

    Good luck. Hope it works out.
  4. MomofSweetOne

    MomofSweetOne Approved members

    Aug 28, 2011
    You need to be along on that trip. Your child is not yet self-sufficient to manage D on her own at home. Why should she be expected to on a trip that sounds like management will be intense? The part of not having cell coverage is the point at which I absolutely would not trust anyone not very familiar with D until your child is fully capable of managing every hard situation. My 14 year old is NOT; I learned on camping trips this summer. She also has expressed appreciation for me carrying the weight of D when it was too much and just allowing her to be like the other kids.

    I hope you can get it worked out with the school. They may be looking at it as she's been fine during the day at school, so no big deal, not having any realization of all the factors that impact.
  5. Amy C.

    Amy C. Approved members

    Oct 22, 2005
    That is fine that you are the chaperone the first night only. The rest of the time you should be there to watch your daughter.
  6. virgo39

    virgo39 Approved members

    Jan 8, 2010
    I agree with the other posters.

    Giving the school the benefit of the doubt, they may mistakenly think that the "at school diabetes care" = "diabetes care". I'd call to express your concern about all of the other diabetes-related care tasks that will need to be handled.

    Good luck.
  7. Dave

    Dave Approved members

    Jun 19, 2013
    Im attending college with my kid and fingersticking him at 2 am even after he has a job, wife and kids...so you DEFINITELY need to be there! :)
  8. KatieSue

    KatieSue Approved members

    Oct 5, 2010
    I agree you should go. I'm guessing they really just don't understand all the variables involved. Good luck.
  9. Megnyc

    Megnyc Approved members

    Nov 8, 2012
    Honestly, at almost 20 (and doing this for over 10 years), I don't think I would be comfortable spending a week camping and involved in heavy activity without a medical staff person present if there was not very reliable cell service.

    One of my classes in college is going on a weeklong camping/caving trip in a few weeks and we are being accompanied by 2 paramedics with wilderness training. When I filled out the medical form (and noted I had diabetes and would be carrying glucagon but needed no accommodations) and sent it in I got a phone call from them explaining that I would be expected to provide them with 2 glucagon kits but they would also be carrying D50 in case of emergency. I'm a bit shocked that a school (taking CHILDREN not adults on a trip) would not have similar provisions.

    It is actually the lack of cell phone service that worries me the most. How exactly do they plan on handling the typical injuries/illnesses that occur when taking a group of kids camping?
  10. DavidN

    DavidN Approved members

    Sep 7, 2012
    I would say, "Last year we agreed that I could chaperon the trip. What has changed?". Do it matter-of-factly, no emotion. I can think of no reason why this conversation shouldn't happen. If they won't let you chaperon, as others have said, you should be on the trip the whole time. I "get" your anxiety and think it is serving you well.
  11. coni

    coni Approved members

    Mar 23, 2006
    I really appreciate the replies. It helps to see that my concerns are not unreasonable.

    I just wanted to make clear that the field trip is not wilderness tent camping. It's a camp, but it has cabins, a lodge, and dining room. However, that doesn't eliminate the problem! The kids will still be very physically active, and it's still fairly remote, and it's still too much to ask DD to manage.

    I will be meeting with the teacher tomorrow.
  12. lisanc

    lisanc Approved members

    Dec 22, 2009
    We also had a middle school trip but only for a couple of nights with no nurse on site ... what I did was stay in the area ... I did the first night check and showed the chaperone how to check my daughter and what the guidelines were and the chaperone was able to handle it the following night without me ... the camp we were at was great at creating a meal plan at night that fit her needs (her friends were actually jealous of her meals - we didn't have to do this but she did not like the traditional camp food and it did help in creating more stable blood sugars at night) ... and my husband and I stayed in the area (but out of sight!) and had a little mini vacation ourselves just in case an emergency came up since there were not a lot of resources in the area.

    the chaperones were great about keeping my cell phone on hand for any questions and they allowed her to keep her cell with her in case she needed to contact me for any reason. I also have to say that my daughter uses a CGM which REALLY does add peace of mind!

    I totally understand your concern and would also be concerned. Hopefully, you can work with the school to find a solution that works for both of you.
  13. Traci

    Traci Approved members

    Aug 10, 2006
    We've done a similar type camp for three days through school. There was never any question as to whether or not I would go. Matter of fact, it's written into his 504 plan that I can attend any and all field trips.

    All that being said, I'm SO glad I was there! My son is very independent, but it was a serious roller coaster of bg's the entire time. Once, he was sky high so we trekked all the way back to the cabin, changed the site, corrected, got all the way back across the camp, and ds jumps into some game they were playing and promptly rips the new site off. Sigh. Aaaaaaalllllllllllllllllll the way back across the camp for yet another new site. How on earth would someone who doesn't do this regularly handle calculating how much insulin was delivered vs how much he actually got? And being sky high, my son was miserable...no way would he have tolerated a virtual stranger messing with his site then.

    Your concerns are very valid! Also, you say the camp is remote...how certain is cell phone coverage out there? It was non-existent at our camp.

    Good luck! I hope you can convince them of just how serious this situation could quickly turn without proper oversight.
  14. quiltinmom

    quiltinmom Approved members

    Jun 24, 2010
    I don't think I would be happy letting my 11 year old go on a week long trip. I had a hard enough time with just an overnighter. (we didn't let him go, actually, but that's another story.)

    Another option is if she can contact you at any time to keep in touch over the phone/text so you can know what's going on. It's not the same as being there, but it's better than nothing. Is there cell service where she'll be going?

    I have two thoughts on this. On one hand, I don't like telling DS 'no' because of diabetes. I think he should get to do anything he'd normally be allowed to do.

    On the other hand, telling a child that age (even a super responsible one) that they have to take care of their own D for an entire week is too much responsibility to put on their shoulders. For a day at school is one thing, or even an overnight campout might be a stretch (but do-able), but an entire week...to me that seems too much. It doesn't seem fair to expect so much of them all at once. Especially without a nurse.

    Can you stay for the entire week and pay your own way? Is that what this is really all about?

    Maybe you can play the "life threatening disease" card, and maybe the thought of a child dying on their watch will change their mind. Or maybe write up a list of everything they will need to know (I mean everything!) so they'll know just how much they need you there. As in, overwhelm them with info so they'll understand about all the "what ifs" of diabetes. Maybe they need a little time to let things set in.

    If that fails, maybe you can let her go, and just be ready to run over there (it's only an hour away, after all) to help with any site changes or whatever. Everything else can pretty much be handled over the phone, it sounds like. If it were my child, I would only let him go if I could either be there, or be in unrestricted cell phone contact with him.

    Good luck! Keep us updated. :)
  15. MEVsmom

    MEVsmom Approved members

    Aug 2, 2013
    My newbie point of view.

    I am very new at this (only 5 weeks diagnose), but just from my newbie experience I would suspect that maybe the school officials have no real clue the risks involved. I'm not sure that I would even know at this point and I'm a parent. People really are clueless (myself included) until they are dealing with it first hand.

    Maybe if you talked to them more in depth about the situation and why an entire weeklong trip is different than a school day they would understand? Really it is just not acceptable for them to say no.

    I would definitely ask for a rationale as to why I could only chaperone the first night to see where they are coming from.

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