Elliott P. Joslin Camps for Children with Diabetes

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The Elliott P. Joslin Camps for Children with Diabetes is a series of philanthropic camps located in Charlton, Massachusetts that combine diabetes education, treatment, and support with recreation, sports, and camping.


Elliott P. Joslin, M.D., the first American doctor to specialize in diabetes, spoke of his dream to develop special camps for children with the condition that would serve as “islands of safety,” where children could enjoy a vacation while under the care of specialists. In 1932, he joined with the Association of Universalist Women and opened the Clara Barton Birthplace Camp for Girls With Diabetes. Seeing the success of this camp, Dr. Joslin convinced the organization to open a boys camp, The Elliott P. Joslin Camps for boys, in 1947. Dr. Joslin and his staff provided the medical supervision while numerous donors provided the financial support.[1]

The logistics of operating the two camps became a burden and the women’s organization gave total control of the boy’s camp to the Joslin Diabetes Center in 1976.[1]


Summer Camp (Camp Joslin)[edit]

Camp Joslin is located 50 miles (80 km) west of Boston, MA in Charlton, Massachusetts, near Old Sturbridge Village. It sits on approximately 300 acres (1.2 km2) of land with a 20-acre (81,000 m2) pond (Putnam Pond), and is located only three miles from The Clara Barton Camp in nearby Oxford, MA, with which it frequently collaborates.

Summer camp is for boys between the ages of 6 and 16 and is divided into several two and one-week sessions. Camp Joslin Staff consists of a camp director, administrative team, wilderness leadership experts, cabin counselors, recreation specialists, kitchen and maintenance staff and a 24-hour healthcare team that includes resident physician(s), nurses and nutritionists. The camp has a ratio of one counselor or medical professional to every three campers. Staff from Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, including pediatricians, pediatric nurses, psychologists and dietitians, also provide support to the camp team.

Diabetes Camp Outcomes Research Study[edit]

The first diabetes camp outcomes research study was performed at Camp Joslin and showed that participation in Joslin camping programs, especially for a few years or more, has a positive impact on campers’ lifelong health. The study followed alumni over the last 30 years and showed that Joslin campers, when compared to children with diabetes who received care from the same clinic and hospital practices, but never went to camp, have significantly better long-term health outcomes.

Wilderness Leadership Program[edit]

Wilderness backpacking trips are offered to young men and women with diabetes, ages 15 – 18, and focus on:

  • Mountain Backpacking Skills
  • Individual Leadership Skills
  • Diabetes Management Skills (in extreme conditions)

Joslin-trained staff members with extensive experience in wilderness programming, leadership development and diabetes management lead the Wilderness Leadership Program. Staff includes healthcare professionals and Wilderness First Responder certified wilderness leaders.

Life After High School Program[edit]

The Life After High School Program is for young men and women in their junior and senior years of high school who are transitioning to life after high school. Young adults learn tips and techniques on managing their diabetes outside the home.

Winter Camp[edit]

Winter Camp allows teenagers ages 12–17 the chance to enjoy great winter activities while learning new skills to manage their diabetes through their teen years. In 2006, Joslin collaborated with the Barton Center to bring two camps into one program.


A typical week at Camp Joslin has several regular activities for campers. On Tuesday nights the boys from Camp Joslin invite the girls from the Barton Center for a weekly dance. Wednesday night is a traditional cook out night where each cabin is responsible for its own dinner preparation using supplies from the kitchen staff.


Camp Joslin is on a pristine piece of land in the town of Charlton surrounded from the outside world by high trees. From the camp it is all most impossible to hear traffic from the adjacent Richardson's Corner Road. The camp has several features of the property which make it distinct from other camps:

Putnam Pond[edit]

The camp surrounds Putnam pond which is just under a half mile in length. There is a walking trail that surrounds the pond for campers and staff to use for activities.


Camp Joslin has several well maintained facilities that include a sheltered full size basketball court (the Pavilion), adjacent FM Radio Station (Radio Shack), a sand beach waterfront with dock and boats, and an uncovered basketball court by the mess hall. Additionally there are five large fields (JD (Junior Division), softball, soccer, baseball, and archery) for recreation. There is also an obstacle course and volleyball net on the property.


The most notable building on the Camp Joslin Property is the new flagship mess hall which replaced the old original mess hall in 2006. The new mess hall features a large and open eating area with cathedral ceilings and a stone fireplace. The kitchen is brand new and top of the line. The basement is an extra space for pool tables and other various activities. The most prominent feature of the new mess hall are its three coupalas.


The Elliott P. Joslin Camps is accredited by the American Camp Association


  1. ^ a b "Camp Joslin History". Joslin Diabetes Center. 2011. Archived from the original on 2012-01-04. Retrieved 2011-12-12. 

Coordinates: 42°07′55″N 71°55′37″W / 42.132°N 71.927°W / 42.132; -71.927