Toby Hollister at Camp BETA

Toby Hollister, right, at Camp BETA 2023.

“For me, being comfortable sending a newly diagnosed kid to camp and knowing he was being taken care of while learning all about his new diagnosis was a game changer,” said Khrissy Hollister of Carterville.

In 2018, she sent her 10-year-old son, Toby, to Camp BETA, a free overnight camp for youth with type 1 diabetes. Registration is underway for this fall's Camp BETA on Sept. 7 and Sept. 8 at Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center in Carbondale.

“We want to provide a safe space where youth can meet and share experiences with others also living with type 1 diabetes, help them gain confidence and independence while managing their diabetes and provide an opportunity to develop friendships and a local support system, not just for the camper, but also for the parents,” said SIH Diabetes Care Manager Lisa Nation.

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition where the pancreas makes little or no insulin—the hormone the body uses to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy. It can lead to complications over time in several organs, including the heart and kidneys.

Lisa helped launch the camp to help connect young people in the southern 16 counties meet others like themselves.
“Oftentimes, these kids are the only child in their school living with type 1 diabetes, so they feel alone, different. At camp, everyone is like them – checking their blood sugar before they do physical activities, before eating meals, taking insulin multiple times per day or wearing technology such as insulin pumps or glucose sensors. They understand how hard living with type 1 diabetes is and are great supporters for their peers at camp,” Lisa said.

Toby Hollister has looked forward to going to camp every summer since his diagnosis.

“It’s nice to know there are people out there trying to help diabetics manage their condition and let them have a fun life even with the condition,” he said.
Toby loves fishing, horseback riding and playing GaGa Ball (a variation of dodgeball played in an octagon) with his friends.

“He loves it so much; we actually brought the concept back to Carterville and constructed a pit at our local park!” said his mother, Khrissy.

The camp is an amazing experience, for everyone in attendance - kids, adults and staff.

“When you’re feeling burned out or needing a break from your daily work, Camp BETA is one of those experiences that just fills your cup back up and re-energizes you!” Lisa said.

“I can’t say enough good about Camp Beta. As a family, we have appreciated every single minute that the staff, counselors, nurses, donors and volunteers pour into the weekend,” Khrissy said.

Interested in supporting Camp BETA Youth Diabetes Fund? Click here.