LFAC Education Bulletin No. 22 April 2021
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Virtual Diabetes Camps 
Tips and Lessons Learned 

Dear Colleagues,

Social distancing rules and fear of COVID-19 infection has discouraged face-to-face clinic follow-ups and diabetes education delivery in many countries. However, many of you have adapted swiftly and embraced the digital world and have conducted telehealth, virtual education sessions, and even virtual camps. 
Diabetes camps offer young people and their parents an opportunity to become more confident in diabetes self-management and can help to relieve the sense of isolation and stigma through social interactions and building friendships with peers.

As many countries may not be able to conduct regular group events and camps this year and possibly beyond, this bulletin will provide some tips and recommendations, generously shared by one of our partner centers in Ecuador the Fundación Diabetes Juvenil de Ecuador (FDJE), and some additional resources for planning and conducting virtual camps. I hope this will inspire and encourage you to undertake your own virtual camps or group education sessions and activities within your own community, until we can all gather and socialize safely again. Though, virtual events may stay with us in some form or another as they have shown to have their own benefits (e.g. save transport cost; reach more people living in remote areas).

If you have conducted your own virtual camp, I would love to hear your experiences about what worked well and what challenges you encountered; and what fun and/or educational activities were most popular (for different age groups and/or for parents). 

I will compile these and share with you all so we can all learn and support each other. Please send an email to cecilee@diabetesnsw.com.au
The following is a brief outline of how FDJE planned, conducted and evaluated their three-day virtual camp (conducted from Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd August 2020, during the height of the COVID pandemic. The camp was offered free of charge.
  1. Brainstorming ideas– involved the technical team (consisted of 5 people) 
  2. Investigate and decide on digital platform 
  3. Develop camp scheme, schedule and topics (consider availability of speakers/facilitators, technical limitations, internet connections) 
  4. Seek youth leaders, medical team, allied health professionals 
  5. Assignment of roles / working groups including health professionals, youth leaders, medical team
  6. Micro-curricular development and development of teaching tools, applications and activities (similar to face-to-face camps).
  7. Training of youth leaders (regarding safety of underage children, management of platform and troubleshooting)
Advertising and registration:
  • Poster designed based on the idea of one of ‘Wreck-It Ralph's’ movies (see below). 
  • Published on FDJE's social networks and website
  • Pre-registration through web forms, registration confirmation (collecting personal information) and questionnaire (regarding choice of webinar topics and concerns) by email and phone calls 
The Virtual camp:
  • Registrations sold out after 2 days
  • One hundred thirty-six people pre-registered, 96 qualified (i.e. answered all questions on registration questionnaire including demographics, latest HbA1c and medication, amongst others) 
  • Eighty-seven (87) caregivers (parents, relatives) participated
  • Sixty (60) people acted as moderators or speakers: young leaders (35), specialist physicians with expertise in type 1 diabetes (9), nutritionists (2), psychologists (2), invited health professionals (4), guest speakers (3), technical FDJE team (4) and technical assistant (1) 
Zoom platform was used and was accessible through the FDJE website.

An IT security system was developed to protect underage children. Each participant (including children and parents) received a unique Zoom login Code.
The Zoom platform allowed to replicate some activities developed in ‘usual’ face to face camps such as: 
  • arts
  • lectures
  • workshops
  • dance – very popular- our leaders created a new choreography with their own song 
  • conversation (breakout) rooms to promote exchange among caregivers and speakers

Each activity aims to empower the participant and their family in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.

A total of 56 activities were conducted, with up to 3 sessions held at the same time. These activities would not have been possible without the very valuable support and hard work of the youth leaders who had been trained with FDJE for several years, coordinated by the technical team.
  • Each activity lasted 45 minutes, with 15-minute break interval. 
  • Six Education groups: 
Group 1 - Young children aged 4 to 9 years accompanied by their parents
Group 2 - Children/young people aged 10 to 13 years 
Group 3 - Teenagers A (over 14 years old with newly diagnosed diabetes)
Group 3 - Adolescents B (over 14 years and diabetes duration over 5 years)
Group 4 - Parents of children with diabetes aged 10 to 18 years
Group 5 - Parents of children newly diagnosed
Group 6 - Young adults aged 18-25 with T1D – first time included as separate group
Educational workshops
  • Different focus each day
            Day 1) hypoglycemia
            Day 2) carbohydrate counting
            Day 3) physical activity
  • Sessions tailored to age range, and for caregivers
  • Entertainment and expressive activities included a number of family challenges
Daily webinars
  • Topics covered the 3 pillars of diabetes management
  1. Insulin,
  2. Nutrition
  3. Exercise
  • For parents according to their children’s age group
  • Also held medical workshops for all participants
Two exclusive parent conversation groups
One for fathers and one for mothers (to motivate openness of parents, testimony and exchange of feelings and emotions). The following questions were raised in advance:
  • Why my child?
  • How to achieve a normal life with type 1 diabetes?
  • What is the best way to help my child?
Three psychology workshops
 According to age groups to provide tools for coping during the current pandemic:
  • Strategy to cope with lockdown and social distancing - for children aged under 13 years
  • How to handle changes in adolescence period - for adolescents
  • How to handle the fear of getting sick - for caregivers
Each day educational activities were carried out with both campers and parents /caregivers.

On Sunday, the invitation was opened to the whole community with T1D, without the need for prior registration, included panel discussions with doctors.

  • At the end of each activity, participants were invited to rate each session through a pop-up Zoom survey
  • Satisfaction with moderators, speakers and the support team were assessed via an online Google form sent some days after the camp. It considered topics of internet connection, promotion of the event, methodology and organization management.
Benefits of virtual camp
  • Ability of participants to listen to and interact with experts from the world of type 1 diabetes in Latin America, who shared their extensive work and advocacy experience
  • National and international doctors and health professionals were very committed, reliable and delivered high-quality education and were punctual
  • Enabled access – for 44% of the participants, it was the first time they attended a diabetes camp; campers from 11 Ecuadorian provinces attended; age representation was: 21% aged < 10 years, 32% aged 10 to 14 years, 29% aged 14 to 18years; 18% < 25 years; 22% were recently diagnosed
  • Positive feedback from participants – all sessions rated as useful and relevant to their daily lives
Challenges and Lessons learned:
  • Time consuming / high work load - particularly for technical team and volunteer youth leaders
  • The number of participants was lower than expected (approximately 87% of registered campers attended educational activities)
  • IT security control system was excellent (to protect underage children), however this prevented participants from accessing some resources
  • More open groups with a greater scope and less access limitations, only for underage children's groups to maintain strict security control system
  • Avoid concurrent sessions - only one event at a time with some continuity between event # 1 and event # 2 to maintain participants’ interest
  • Evaluate the effect of prolonged screen time on participants attention span / exhaustion so interest and information is retained
  • Open invitation to social networks more widely, request a registration to the event
  •  Send reminder of the event 3 days before and one day before the event
  • Find a more efficient way to control the security of the event. Signing in with a personal code was not favoured by participants (as they could not remember it)
Other Resources/Camps

Zoom for beginners: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbbYqiurgeo

How to Host a Zoom Meeting (The Complete Guide to Scheduling a Zoom Meeting From Anywhere)

Zoom platform icebreaker:
  • Ask kids to change their name to their favorite animal: Go to ‘Participants’ (top or bottom of screen) and click on ‘Rename’ - see instructions here
  • Make the session more interactive by asking participants to use annotations. Ask them to take their mouse to the top of the screen and 1) click view options 2) Click Annotations 3) have fun – This YouTube video shows you how to use annotations
Ideas for Virtual Diabetes Camp Activities
 Facebook Groups:
  • Virtual Camp Ideas Group  
  • Lions Diabetes Camp Group
Ideas for planning and conducting a virtual kids camp – not specific for diabetes Diabetes Education and Camping Association
The Diabetes Education and Camping Association (DECA) unites the worldwide diabetes camping community through leadership, education, and shares resources. To gain access to resources, training and recognition, DECA membership is required.

Don’t forget to Google – virtual diabetes camps, camp activities etc … google is your best friend!

Camp guidelines
Angie Middlehurst – past LFAC education manager, in collaboration with the Diabetes Education and Camping Association developed camping  guidelines for less resourced countries available from our website at: https://lifeforachild.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/LFAC-DECA-Camp-Guidelines-FINAL.pdf; however they don’t include virtual camps
Other centres who conduct virtual camps
DiabetesLATAM Panama also offers virtual camps (in Spanish): https://diabeteslatam.org/campamentos/ . Anybody who registers can join the camps (6-17 year old’s).
We would love to hear about your virtual camp experience as a camper, facilitator or camp organizer. Please email cecilee@diabetesnsw.com.au

For more information contact: 

Cecile Eigenmann
Education Manager
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