Instead of taking a 4-week vacation last summer (summer 2012), I did a 2-week elective in July at Camp Carowanis and I do not regret it one bit!
Established for more than 50 years now, Camp Carowanis is a camp for diabetic children located on the shores of Lake Didi in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts. It runs during the summer for three sessions lasting 2 weeks each. By providing an outdoor camping experience, the camp offers diabetic children and adolescents as well as their families the opportunity to learn to better live with diabetes. The personnel provide practical teaching to the campers and the necessary tools to ensure a good diabetes control. The majority of counsellors and personnel of the camp are diabetics themselves encouraging and maintaining community life among people with diabetes who have been successful in their career, studies and/or sports. This provides a great example for the youth who attends the camp!
For their part, medical students can choose to do a 1-week or 2-week elective. It is a very popular elective so I recommend that you apply early if you are interested! The medical team is composed by a pediatrician (or family physician on rare occasions!), one or two medical residents and two or three medical students per session (although this is highly variable!).
It is a very enriching experience to see the values of teamwork and mutual aid being applied in this camp.
On my first week, I worked with a pediatric endocrinologist, a pediatric resident, a pediatric endocrinology fellow and another medical student. On my second week, I was with a family physician who was a former counsellor at the camp, two pediatric residents and two other medical students. We stayed at the Panabode (our chalet) for the duration of the elective.
Days start bright and early at 7:15 am. Boys and girls get their hypoglycemia tested before every meal in their respective sides. As part of medical team, I adjusted their insulin doses according to the reading under the supervision of the physician or the resident. In the afternoon, we took care of the “Clinique Bobo”, a type of walk-in clinic for the campers and the personnel. Great experience especially if you are interested in family medicine. You get a lot of teaching not only from the physicians and residents but also from the nurses who are great. They will tell you all about insulin pumps and their use.
The great thing about this elective is that you become part of the microsociety of the camp. Everybody welcomes you warmly and you can participate in the daily activities with the kids. From canoeing and swimming in the lake to basketball and soccer, there is certainly an activity for everyone! You also participate in the traditions of the camp which is a lot of fun! It is a very enriching experience to see the values of teamwork and mutual aid being applied in this camp. Moreover, you get to observe the daily struggles of diabetics and how they deal with them allowing you to better understand your future diabetic patients.
I definitely recommend this elective to all medical students. I will certainly go back as a resident since I loved my experience there!
Do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about this wonderful elective.