Diabetes Camp Counselors: An Exploration of Counselor Characteristics and Quality of Life Outcomes

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of volunteering at a diabetes camp on emerging adults with and without type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM).

Methods

Thirty counselors with and 22 without T1DM (19.07 ± 2.71 years old) volunteered at a 1-week T1DM camp in the northeastern United States. Counselors with T1DM had a range of self-reported A1C scores (5.8% or 39.9 mmol/mol to 14.0% or 129.5 mmol/mol). Self-report measures of quality of life, hope, and well-being were completed pre- and postcamp at 4 time points: 1 month before camp, arrival at camp, final day of camp, and 2 months postcamp. Open-ended questions regarding counselor experiences were analyzed to understand camp effect.

Results

There were significant differences between counselors’ levels of trait hope in comparison to published norms. There were few clear differences in psychosocial outcomes pre- and postcamp; however, some increases in well-being were revealed in anticipation of camp. Major reasons for volunteering included assisting others and reciprocating or continuing a perceived positive experience as a camper.

Conclusion

No changes in psychosocial outcomes pre- to postcamp were observed. However, measures used in this study may be poorly defined for a counselor population. Further research on the characteristics of emerging adults who choose to be camp counselors is needed. By understanding the demographics of this population, health professionals can help target individuals to become camp counselors as well as enhance the camp experience to fit their developmental needs.

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