Beyond the Mainstream


Camp Ho Mita Koda

Newbury, Ohio

Sessions: Summer, seven weeks

Cost: $350 for a five-day session, $750 for a 12-day session

Ohio may be known as a place where presidential candidates clash, but it’s also home to a camp that fights another type of conflict. The place is Camp Ho Mita Koda, and the battle is against diabetes.

Founded in scenic Newbury, Ohio, less than an hour east of Cleveland, the camp recently celebrated its 75th anniversary. “We are one of the first two camps for children with diabetes in the world,” says Executive Director Jacquie Dickinson.

Dr. Henry John, who was chosen to distribute the newly developed medicine, insulin, started the 73-acre wooded camp in 1929. Since that day, the mission, purpose and values have remained the same.

The mission is not only to medically manage those with type 1 diabetes (the camp also offers a 5-day session for children with type 2 diabetes), but they also purpose to provide a haven of networking and relationship building within a traditional camp experience.

It happens seven weeks throughout the summer, when children ages 6 through 15 can partake in a 5-day or 12-day residential session. The children attend in sessions grouped by age, and while at camp they are bunked with seven other campers and two counselors, all the children and many of the staff with diabetes.

The One-Day Difference

Providing one-day mini-camps has been an idea developed by the staff to reach out and educate parents of young children who have been diagnosed with diabetes.

Children ages three through ten and their parents are invited to attend this all-day Saturday event complete with games, swimming, scavenger hunt, nature walk and an evening campfire. “The mini-camp took off almost immediately as soon as we introduced it six years ago,” Dickinson says.

During the mini-camp, a physician orientates parents about the camp’s medical program and discusses any issues about the illness.

The oftentimes-bewildered parents thrive from being able to meet with the medical staff and get acquainted with the camp.

Other invaluable benefits include being able to attend parent discussion groups and network with other families who are going through similar experiences.

Last summer, 63 children with their parents attended one of the two mini-camps that were offered. Dickinson adds, “We hope this one day experience eases both the parents’ and the children’s transition into residence camp.”

Medical Management

The medical aspect of Camp Ho Mita Koda is a program within itself that is very strong and very important. Due to the severity of the needs, the most modern and equipped building on site is the dispensary, paid for entirely by a capital campaign several years ago.

The senior medical staff is comprised of 12 physicians, from major medical institutions located throughout the Cleveland area, all who are pediatric or diabetes specialists.

They are on call, make rounds every evening, and supervise the residence camp doctors who are resident physicians.

Also on staff is a camp health manager who is responsible for the dispensary staff of several nurses or nursing students.

It helps that the camp medical director is the head of pediatric endocrinology at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and assists the camp by meeting regularly with the medical workforce during the year to discuss policies, issues and staffing.

Other medical assets are pharmaceutical and medical supply companies who contribute supplies, equipment, and insulin.

The generous donations from these health professionals keep the medical component of Camp Ho Mita Koda first-rate.

All together with the medical staff, counseling staff, administration and support, there is better than a 1-to-4 adult to child ratio. And the kids are in good hands.

Besides many of the staff having been campers themselves, they are trained by the senior medical personnel to be familiar with the care and management of diabetes.

A registered dietitian is also included in the staff training, as well as instruction about how to handle crisis situations. In each cabin is an emergency phone should medical or nursing care be needed any hour of the night. There is someone available at the dispensary around the clock, and the camp doctor is also on call if needed.

Recognizing Needs

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