Get to know our program
Camp Jean Nelson was founded in 1957 by the camp’s namesake, Jean Nelson. Jean was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of five and was instrumental in diabetes education both professional and personally—she not only spearheaded our summer camping program but also opened the Calgary Branch of Diabetes Canada. Since 2014, Camp Jean Nelson has enjoyed a partnership with Kids Cancer Care Alberta’s Camp Kindle.
Camp Jean Nelson takes place in the picturesque Rocky Mountain Foothills, just outside of Water Valley. Camp Kindle offers 160 acres of rolling hills, forest and waterways, along with all the modern amenities you need for the perfect camp experience.
At Camp Jean Nelson, campers sleep in dorms with their cabin-mates. The dorms have separate rooms, each accommodating four to 10 campers of the same gender. Each of these beautiful modern dorms is equipped with electric lights, bunk beds, washrooms, showers and counsellor sleeping quarters.
In each cabin group of 14 to 16 campers of similar age, there is a minimum of three camp counsellors, of which at least two are hired by Diabetes Canada.
About the Camp
Campers & Staff
Our junior session accommodates 100 campers per session, ages 7 to 11.
Our senior session accommodates 100 campers per session, ages 12 to 15.
Most of our campers arrive and depart from camp in Water Valley by car. When you drop your camper off, you will have the opportunity to meet your child’s counsellors, medical team and other members of the staff team.
We also offer pick-up and drop-off via bus from Red Deer and Edmonton. If this option is the best fit for your family please sign up through your registration account.
Counsellors and instructors
In partnership with Camp Kindle, the D-Camps team recruits, screens and trains a team of staff. The staff team all have standard first aid/CPR, and attend a week-long training with a focus on camper care, medical processes and procedures for managing type 1 diabetes.
Many of our staff team live with type 1 diabetes and are living in the cabin group with your camper. Because we provide 24-hour supervision, this creates endless opportunities for your camper to learn from and relate to a young adult role model living with type 1 diabetes.
We are proud of our staff team at Camp Jean Nelson and they look forward to meeting you and your camper!
Led by Dr Karin Winston from Alberta Children's Hospital, our medical staff team is a dedicated, committed group of health care professional who understand how important the camp experience is for children and youth living with type 1 diabetes.
There are 30 people on the Med Team at Camp Jean Nelson each week. Each cabin group is paired with one group of medical professionals so they have the opportunity to get to know each other well.
Many members of our Med Team work in diabetes management full-time. Others have personal connections to type 1 diabetes and some even live with it.
The Med Team is always on hand for your camper and acts as a great resource, whether your child is newly diagnosed or approaching adulthood. They are a crucial element of the Camp Jean Nelson experience.
Land based challenges
There is always something happening on land at Camp Jean Nelson! At any time, you might find campers enjoying the initiatives course, climbing wall, various sports, archery and the state-of-the-art high ropes course (make sure to ask your camper about it when they get home!).
Campers will have the opportunity to experience Camp Kindle’s new outdoor pool facility. Lifeguards will conduct a swim test at the beginning of each session to assess each camper’s swim level. All activities that take place in the water are led by trained staff and supervised by lifeguards.
Campers can spend time focusing on arts-based programs like drama games, arts and crafts, and talent shows.
Outdoor living skills
Your camper will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in nature while hiking, doing wetland studies (fondly referred to as a “swamp romp”), orienteering and taking part in campfires. Some of our older cabin groups will go on an overnight experience, which will involve hiking a short distance to an on-site tipi.
Every night at Camp Jean Nelson, the whole camp community comes together to take part in activities like Capture the Flag, skit nights and talent shows. After these high-energy activities, everyone at camp comes to campfire where we sing songs, see skits and reflect on our time at camp. These campfires are a highlight of the camp experience. Make sure to ask your camper about their favourite song. You might even get to hear it on the trip home!