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Connected in Motion: A Diabetes Camp for Adults

Imagine a weekend retreat spent star gazing, day trekking through the wilderness and attending amazing workshops with friends who all share type 1 diabetes. You might think talking about diabetes on vacation is the last thing you want to do; however, those who have experienced the camaraderie of these group gatherings where they can discuss challenges, share ideas and learn important discoveries – will tell you the experience is life-changing.

Connected in Motion: A Diabetes Camp for Adults

About Connected in Motion

Connected in Motion (CIM) is a Canadian non-profit organization for people with type 1 diabetes (T1D). The charity provides support through outdoor adventure and sport-based education.

For ten years, CIM founder and T1D Chloe Vance never met another person with type 1 diabetes until backpacking through Australia in 2006, where she met a group of T1D cyclists. Their community spurred her to create CIM's Slipstream phenomenon. In 2008, Vance had the idea to build a core group of type 1 individuals on the guiding principle of the Slipstream, which happens to be an assisting force that draws something along its path, like a flight of birds flying in the V formation.

Today, CIM is a powerful club of young T1D individuals looking to connect socially through adventure, exciting workshops and great people. Connected in Motion is changing the face of type 1 diabetes through adventure, community, and outdoor exploration. Through Experiential Diabetes Education, its programs offer growth opportunities through sporting events and engagements with other T1Ds.

Diabetes Self-Management

Diabetes self-management is the term for adults who manage their illness independently. While this is applauded in many sectors, CIM has a different approach.

 “Our biggest challenges are surmountable when we learn from and are supported by like-minded individuals who have been there and get it.”

Type 1 Strong was fortunate to speak with Lucy McGroarty, Connected In Motion’s managing director. Before joining CIM at the start of 2022, McGroarty completed the Master of Design program at Emily Carr University in Vancouver. There, she presented the first-ever TEDxEmilyCarrU on a TID project called “The 1 Club.”  It’s the story of a secret T1D society where all T1Ds are welcome.

In addition to her managing director duties and fundraising for CIM, McGroarty has a passion for outdoor adventures and physical activity. A common thread that binds the CIM team is that every member has T1D.

Slipstream: The Ultimate Adventure Camp

According to Tom Holland of the American Camp Association, adult summer camps are gaining popularity, with more than a million adults attending each year. The trend lets grown-ups unwind and experience the outdoors. McGroarty says, “They’re a blast for first-time campers and a sweet nostalgia trip for those reliving their childhood camp days.”

With over 6,400 participants and more than 26 Slipstreams, McGroarty says there are typically about five-weekend retreats annually, and some years even more. Though the venue was created in Canada, several events have taken place in America, and the organization has plans to grow further in the States.

“2024 plans are still cooking, but we’re revving up our U.S. presence!” McGroarty says. “CIM has hosted events like the Northeastern Slipstream in Maine, SoCal Slipstream, Colorado Slipstream, and Southern Slipstream in Georgia. More US-based programs are in the pipeline.”

What’s more, if you’re not outdoorsy, there are other ways to get involved. “It’s a balanced blend of outdoor adventures and engaging educational sessions,” McGroarty says. “Crafts, journaling, or a dive into varied topics like sports, tech, and nutrition—there really is something for everyone.”

Diabetes burnout is a growing issue affecting 33% to 50% of people with diabetes in any 18-month period, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Two viable ways to combat feelings of depression and anxiety are to seek fresh air and a support system – both proven to beat the blues and are available at Slipstream sessions. McGroarty confirms, “Our buzzing community vibe itself is a powerful antidote to burnout. Even if you skip the formal stuff, you’ll still feel the mental health boost.”

Slipstream Weekend Retreat

On a typical Slipstream weekend getaway, nearly every person on site (including the Slipstream Leads, a group of volunteers, session speakers, facilitators, and sponsor representatives) has T1D; however, even though the CIM’s primary audience is T1D, Connected in Motion does host ‘Support Crew’ programs, allowing friends or family to join.

Also, all CIM attendants must be 18 or older to participate, and all ages are welcome. CIM has hosted events with adults in their 70s.

Slipstream Accommodations

The Slipstream camps provide bunk-style accommodations with climate-controlled spaces and cabins with electricity for all your diabetes charging needs. CIM tries to choose comfortable venues with accessible bathrooms and showers.

Camp Food

Slipstream retreats provide healthy food options. A typical dining day might consist of eggs and French toast for breakfast, chicken wraps and salads for lunch and flank steak with veggies for dinner. The CIM staff tries to accommodate special dietary needs as well as food and nut allergies. The camp also provides juice and water; BYOB adult beverages are optional.

“People living with diabetes can be the best resource for people living with diabetes.”

Activities

Events change from season to season and are dependent on the venue as to what may be available. More than likely, a Slipstream weekend hosts a myriad of activities, from swimming, canoeing, high ropes, ice skating, snowshoeing, crafts, cooking challenges and campfire discussions. Most camps also have special presentations by diabetes educators and clinicians.

Guest Speakers

Additionally, CIM events welcome inspiring breakout sessions and special guest appearances like the Colorado Slipstream’s guest Richard, who has been living with type 1 diabetes for over 70 years. All speakers share valuable insights, personal stories and empowering messages.

DiabetesSangha

Slipstream invites attendees to participate in the DiabetesSangha experience. This group’s dedication to meditation and mindful practices for people with diabetes raises the event to a higher level, with engaging open discussions about balancing mental health and T1D.

Camp Costs

Attending a Slipstream weekend costs around $400 to $425, McGroarty says. This includes accommodation, meals, and sessions. CIM also offers a scholarship program for all events, aiming to remove barriers to access. Volunteers, speakers, and facilitators attend for free.

Other CIM Experiences

Connected in Motion invests a large part of their operating budget into programming. Over 85% of CIM’s annual budget goes toward bringing experiences to individuals with type 1. Some of these events include:

CIM Adventures

CIM Adventures are multi-day backcountry escapades. They involve smaller group participants (often due to park permit restrictions) and include various activities such as canoe trips, snowshoeing/yurt, hiking, etc. McGroarty says these adventures are primarily based in Canada, but they have ventured into the U.S. with events like the Adventure Team Trek.

Adventure Team Trek

The Adventure Team Trek has taken place in challenging and awe-inspiring locations like Gros Morne National Park, Vancouver Island, Jasper National Park, the Grand Tetons, and the Chilkoot Trail, where hikers trekked from Alaska to BC through the famous Chilkoot Pass.

City Activities

“Beyond the Slipstream retreats and Adventure trips, we amp up the fun with one-off events like group hockey games and ‘Trail Mix and Mingles’ involving pub meet-ups and boat tours,” says McGroarty.

And for those not living in the Great White North, CIM hosts Virtual Slipstream events, which offer online T1D education, uniting and educating people worldwide.

CIM Online Presence

For more information on connecting with CIM, the website offers inspiration and motivation through their online platforms. McGroarty urges T1Ds to follow CIM on social media and check the website for the most up-to-date information. We’re a bustling community hub! We link T1Ds via online platforms, social media (FB, IG, TikTok, Discord), blog articles, and our buzzing mailing list.”

Check out CIM’s Log Book, where you can find great articles, blogs, and recaps of recent Slipstream events. T1Ds can also review the #This is Type One, frank conversations from people living with Type 1. The website also offers dozens of videos with cooking lessons and past Slipstream sessions.

The Power of Many

When you move in unison, you move faster, stronger, and further than you can when you go it alone. Connected in Motion is an incredible support system for people who want to create healthier lifestyles. The events foster empowerment, increased well-being, and a sense of purpose. Group settings like Slipstream allow individuals to build relationships with other T1Ds, working toward common goals.

Whether through email, virtual sessions, or a jam-packed weekend of outdoor adventure, CIM has something for everyone. To experience a Slipstream getaway, check the website for exciting events coming to the  U.S.

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