I was anxious yet eager, nervous yet calm, but more than anything I was excited for the next three days. I was ready. Ready to make new friends, try different things and learn more about my diabetes. I was diagnosed 10 years ago this year and I am still learning every day.
Ice breaking activities helped me talk to those I was about to spend the next half of my week with. Once we got talking we got to know those around us, and by the time we got to Muriwai, we all had at least one friend.
It wasn’t the best start to camp, it had been raining and was damp. After encountering some ‘humongous’ spiders, and many wasps, we got straight into the activities. We did four activities with Bigfoot during the day and a quiz night and ‘diabetium’ a diabetes version of the game cranium in the evening. We tested our own skills and encouraged others in our group as they faced their fears, giving them guidance to scale a rock wall blind folded (feel the blue). Diabetium was a diabetes version of cranium, we were running round camp, in new groups of 4 completing challenges, sculptures, charades and questions about diabetes, medicine and the technology including closed loop systems. It was a fun learning experience.
The next day was a busy day, travelling to see the gannet colony, and into the forest for mountain biking (with Bigfoot) and Tree Adventures. Plus an awesome surprise at lunch time, when the film crew arrived to give Andrew his award. It was super windy at Muriwai Beach, it felt like we were getting slapped in the face. It was nice to see the Gannets, definitely worth being slapped by the wind. Next stop, Woodhill Forest. I was super excited to do Tree Adventures, being 10-14+ meters high in the air, my only lifeline two wires. I was enjoying every moment of it. Sadly, I was unable to mountain bike because of foot injuries, but I got another go up in the trees. Zip lining back to the ground always felt like an accomplishment, knowing I had just completed the course, it was thrilling. That night we did a Q&A, anyone could ask an anonymous question. We sat together and those who had an answer to the question or an idea were allowed to say it; Johnny a Bigfoot instructor even sat through so he could learn about T1D.
The third and final day we did two activities with Bigfoot, a pancake race and kayaking then we were on our way home via Parakai hot pools and McDonalds/ Burgerfuel. We packed and cleaned, moving our bags to the hall. We were split into two groups, one off to kayaking and one stayed at camp to do the Pancake race, which was a a competition to make pancakes, that were judged on our presentation, taste and carb counting. Afterwards, we got to eat our pancakes and get ready to go kayaking. Kayaking was fun, it was full of different games, we even made a chariot, one person would stand up the front of two kayaks, the other would sit on the middle of one of the paddles (over the water – no kayak to save you from the water) it was a blast, and we had a lot of laughs.
When we arrived at Parakai, everyone rushed off and got into their togs and into the pools, 40°c indoors and 30°c outdoors, it was heaven especially as the weather turned sour again. We had so much fun, in the pools and in the waterslides. Back in the bus, off for dinner, Burgerfuel or McDonalds, we talked over our food and then back to the bus for the last journey back to Diabetes Youth Auckland, we talked the whole bus ride and were all sad to say our goodbyes.
I knew some of the Bigfoot team as I am completing the Duke of Edinburgh Award. It is an award program which requires the participant to complete 4 activities, one of two Adventurous Journeys – tramps, or any other expedition and exploration- a preparation and training for these journeys and a skill (learn something new), a service (volunteer work) and physical recreation (fitness, with an end goal) for my bronze, I had to complete two of the service, physical and skill for 13 hours (1 hour a week) and one of those three for 26 hours, in silver and gold each of these three activities have to be completed for 26 hours. I am looking to complete all three levels of the Duke of Edinburgh Award, I have my bronze and I am working on my silver. I am hoping to complete my Gold Adventurous Journeys as a Snowboarding expedition, in Alaska with my friend Sean, the founder of Riding on Insulin. Riding on Insulin is a non-profit organisation set up to help diabetic kids with managing their diabetes in a different climate. Based in the US, Riding on Insulin run day camps all over the US and two camps in NZ nearly every year. I love going to Riding on Insulin camps, meeting new people as well as learning a new sport/ skill.
I am looking forward to snowboarding at a Riding on Insulin camp later this year. I plan to volunteer at both Riding on Insulin and camps or events put on by Diabetes Youth Auckland, I am looking to complete my Duke of Edinburgh Award, volunteer hours using this time, while I am helping other diabetic kids and teens have all sort of great experiences at camps, as I have.
I prove to myself everyday that I can do anything I set my mind to, and T1D is just a part of who I am, and I won’t let it hold me back.