Camp director has been shaping young lives for almost 40 years

Ben Wolford

Camp director Rich Humphreys demonstrates how diabetics check their blood sugar. He has been the camp director off and on for the last 38 years. Photo by Dave Ranucci | Summer Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Walking down a wooded path at Camp Ho Mita Koda, Rich Humphreys spotted a plant on the side of the trail and stopped.

“This is plantain,” he said as he picked off a leaf of the common yard weed. Then he started rubbing his fingers on poison ivy. “I’m allergic to poison ivy.”

Humphreys broke the plantain leaf open and spread the oil around on his fingers to remedy the toxins.

That’s just one small sample of his bag of tricks.

Humphreys has been the camp director at Ho Mita Koda, a camp for children with diabetes, on and off for 38 years. He’s had diabetes for 50.

“I received the 50 year award from Joslin (Diabetes Center),” he said. “It goes to anyone who lives 50 years with diabetes.”

He’s holding out for the 75 year award, which only a few people have now. He said Insulin was a hot new thing in 1932.

At 64, Humphreys is an active and determined proponent of helping others who share the disease.

Last year he walked 380 miles from Camp Ho Mita Koda in Newbury to his home in southern Lancaster County, Pa. to raise awareness for diabetes and money for the camp. It took him five weeks.

But Humphreys is no stranger to enduring long ordeals.

He likes to tell the story about his trip from his house to the Cleveland Clinic when he was 14 and found out he had diabetes.

“One of the symptoms of diabetes is frequent urination,” he said. “On that bus ride to Cleveland I had to go so bad. I actually told the bus driver to stop a few times.”

But later he found out it was worth the journey and the bladder pressure.

At the Cleveland Clinic, the doctor who diagnosed Humphreys with diabetes told him about Ho Mita Koda and he’s been shaping lives there ever since.

Even in the time when he isn’t at Ho Mita Koda he is still supporting the cause.

“I started my own camp,” he said. “It’s called Setebaid. That’s diabetes spelled backward.”

This year he plans to ride his bicycle the 380 miles home from camp to again raise money and awareness.

Then he can add that one to his bag of tricks.

Contact features correspondent Ben Wolford at [email protected].