Diabetes Training Camp (DTC) is a unique clinical resource devoted to diabetes, fitness, exercise, and sports education. They build individualized diabetes management plans and offer lectures, workshops, training sessions, and counseling sessions with medical and coaching specialists. Whether you want to learn a fitness program, tweak your exercise regime and diabetes management, or take your triathalon and marathon training to a higher level, DTC was designed with these goals in mind. It’s truly a unique medium in which to deliver healthcare education and counseling.
We had the opportunity to talk with founder Dr. Matthew Corcoran, MD and CDE, about how Diabetes Training Camp got its start and what it does for its participants.
What inspired you to develop this program?
When I was doing my residency over 15 years ago, one of my mentors inspired me to specialize in endocrinology. Coincidentally, just when I was about to complete my training, my niece was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. All of a sudden my work became more of a passion than a career choice. Making a difference in the lives of people living with diabetes felt like an imperative for me. And the passion has continued to grow from that point on.
Exercise and fitness have always been important to me. And understanding and teaching others about the positive implications of healthy living on diabetes is something I wanted to dive deep into and share. Over the years, I have tried to impact diabetes healthcare in a unique way, by focusing on a more comprehensive and holistic approach and out of that desire, DTC was born.
DTC is a valuable resource for people living with diabetes. It fills a void that is unfortunately all too common in the traditional healthcare system in my area, diabetes care. For people living with diabetes, it’s often difficult to find an expert who considers the disease state when pursuing fitness goals. The intention of Diabetes Training Camp was to create a place where a specialized team works with individuals living with diabetes to help them achieve their goals, whether it was learning how to run a mile or optimizing their triathlon training and everything in between. We provide clinical, nutritional, exercise physiology, mental skills, and coaching services in a one-on-one setting. That’s unique to any other diabetes resource.
We created an advanced education course in diabetes management to help and inspire people living with diabetes to be exercisers and athletes. It’s evolved to become a true community of people living and thriving with diabetes who look to us as part of their healthcare team. It is a place to come and immerse themselves in the world of healthy living with diabetes. The camp really offers them a fresh approach to managing their diabetes in a very proactive and helpful way and with a community of campers and staff who “gets it.”
Who is it targeted to? What if I’m not an athlete?
The week-long camp intertwines training and fitness sessions with an entire curriculum designed to educate the person living with diabetes about the physiology of diabetes, including managing their diabetes during exercise and sports, health and nutrition, and probably most importantly, the mental skills to help them achieve their fitness goals. The program is truly beneficial for every person living with diabetes whether they are an athlete or not. Most importantly, for people who want to learn how to become more active while managing their diabetes, we help them achieve those goals, in a sustainable, healthy way. Because of our individualized approach, we can customize a program for an elite athlete or a beginner.
I have to credit my staff. They’re really incredible. I have a team of about 12 to 15 including myself, diabetes educators, registered dietitians, coaches, fitness specialists, and a mental skills coach. About one third of the staff has diabetes themselves. They’re all so talented that they’re able to pick out individual needs, even while working with a group.
We keep our numbers small. Our ideal session is somewhere around 25 or 30 campers. I think that helps meet the individual needs while working with diverse fitness levels.
The camps are usually held in a university setting which makes it fun. We all eat together in the cafeteria and stay in the dorms. We go from about 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. every night, with training sessions, plus education in one-on-one counseling and small groups.
We’ve had people from the age of 15 to 75, but most of our campers are usually somewhere in the 30- to 50-year age range. It’s really inspiring. The majority of campers who come through have type 1, though we usually have a few folks who have type 2, too. We’ve hosted more than 250 campers from about 40 states and five countries.
Most of the people that come through are of an average or slightly above average fitness level, but we’ve had all levels join us. Some of them might be training for endurance events, while others have struggled to walk or run for more than a few miles because of challenges with their diabetes management. They want to be able to do that and feel good about it. No matter their fitness level, the campers share a common bond. Even if they come in fearful about their abilities, the participants inspire each other. At the end of the day, everyone’s looking out for each other.
We have a 25 to 30 percent return rate. It’s very clear to me now that people are looking to us to be part of their overall healthcare team as a resource for their fitness endeavors.
What is the goal of the program?
The vision remains similar to what it was at the beginning, which is to create a year-round resource for people. Longer-term, I want to create a center where people can come and learn how to live a healthy lifestyle with their diabetes and really try to be in control. I’d also like to be able to help other healthcare professionals do this work. I’d like for it to be a training ground for other passionate people to introduce into their communities. The fact that campers have come from all over to attend this camp just speaks to the universal need for this type of work. We’d like to be able to help people grow the resource.
What do most participants say is the biggest take away from their experience?
We consistently get amazing feedback about the feeling of family and community at camp. This is truly a camp that is all about the campers. It’s their success that drives camp’s success. Campers learn from and lean on each other as much as they learn and lean on our team. As I mentioned before, there is also a desire for the team and the community to become a long-term presence in each camper’s life. For a lot of campers, they have always felt isolated, like they are the only person in their circle with diabetes. At camp, monitors are beeping, everyone is checking levels, eating when needed. Campers are surrounded by others just like them and it feels great.
And, because of our high staff to camper ratio, we are able to offer a very unique, customized, and individual experience for each camper and they learn the strategies that apply to their individual needs.
How can people get more involved?
I’m so glad you asked! Come to camp! We would welcome the privilege of having your readers at camp. Join us June 16-21, 2014 at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA. Go to www.diabetestrainingcamp.com to register.
Build the community. Identify five people in your circle that would benefit from camp and send them to the website and Facebook. Help spread the word.
Donate. Donations will help keep costs down, meaning lower registration fees for camps.
Thank you, Dr. Corcoran, for taking the time to talk with us!
Dr. Matt Corcoran graduated from Boston College and earned his medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine before moving to the University of Chicago Hospitals to complete his internship and residency in internal medicine and fellowship in Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism. He subsequently joined the University of Chicago’s Department of Medicine as an Assistant Professor, directing the endocrinology clinic, diabetes education program and the insulin pump/continuous glucose monitoring clinic. Dr. Corcoran is board-certified in Internal Medicine as well as Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism. He is also a certified diabetes educator, as well as a certified exercise specialist through the American College of Sports Medicine. Currently, he is part of the diabetes team with the Joslin Diabetes Center Affiliate at Atlanticare in Egg Harbor Township, NJ.
Throughout his career, Dr. Matt has worked with persons with diabetes in reaching their fitness and athletic goals. His clinical experience has made him keenly aware of the needs of those with diabetes when it comes to counsel on diabetes, exercise and sports. Dr. Corcoran has taken that experience and applied it in his daily practice, as well as in his previous consulting roles with amateur, collegiate, and Olympic athletes with diabetes, as well as in his work as an adjunct faculty member with the world-renowned Cooper Institute in Dallas, Texas.