The RCH diabetes camps program is 70 years old this year and one of the oldest such programs in the world. Diabetes camp experiences are profound and are seen internationally as an integral part of paediatric diabetes clinical care. This program speaks to and of what is the soul of the RCH: a holistic patient and family centred approach that goes beyond clinical therapy within the walls of the hospital. The origins of the RCH program lie with Ella Latham’s daughter, Vernon Collins and an extraordinary advocate- Dame Geraldine Amies OBE, the first physician-in-charge of the RCH diabetes clinic. Over the subsequent 70 years the focus has shifted from physical well-being to emotional health and resilience.
In the last 15 years the RCH diabetes camps program has joined with Diabetes Victoria and Monash Children’s Health to form the Victorian Diabetes Camps Consortium. This has been a very successful partnership that has opened up camping opportunities to all affected Victorian children. The activities of the Consortium are always oversubscribed and currently provide activities for more than 400 children and teenagers each year at various sites around Victoria. The diabetes camp experience has proved to be a virtuous circle. The camp Alma mater have proved a formidable group- becoming leaders in their various fields and frequently returning to contribute back to the next generation of campers.
Professor Fergus Cameron is a paediatric endocrinologist at The Royal Children’s Hospital. He has been involved with the RCH diabetes camps program since 1998.