Camp NYDA, a camp for New York City kids with type 1 diabetes (T1D), will be open again for a few hours on June 15, 2013, after being closed for 21 years. Planning for a reunion at the now privately owned site has been under way for several years. More than 200 people have joined the Camp NYDA Alumni Association (CNAA) Facebook page: search “NYDA Reunion,” or email email@example.com. According to organizer Sandy Cohen Dettenmayer, “Our biggest problem has been locating the thousands of adults who attended camp as long as 50 years ago. Many campers moved away from the New York area.”
The recently created CNAA is using personal contacts, social media, and diabetes-targeted internet and print publications to reach out to former campers and staff. Member Lance Schulman is working on a request to more than 4,000 endocrinologists across the country to display the association’s membership poster.
The beautiful lakefront location of Camp NYDA in Burlingham, NY, has a rich history. The former New York Diabetes Association operated the camp at this property from 1945 until its closing in 1991. Before becoming a camp for people with T1D, the site was home to Camp Isida, a summer retreat for Macy’s employees. It was named to memorialize store owners Isador and Ida Straus—lost on the RMS Titanic in 1912. The property is now owned by Pine Lake Estates, which still operates a summer camp for children of members of a New York City labor union.
NYDA’s program included sports, swimming, boating, arts and crafts, and overnight camping, among many other activities. The camp also included a staff of doctors and nurses to help manage the healthcare needs of children and teens with T1D. The campers learned to administer their own insulin injections and calculate their dietary requirements, yet they all enjoyed a fun camp experience while integrating their T1D care into sleepaway-camp life.
Excitement is growing as the former campers look forward to the reunion. Former campers will reacquaint themselves with old friends and revisit the camp that helped them to develop important skills needed to enjoy healthy and fulfilling lives.