Dr. Robert Chinnock
Camp's Story: where we came from
Conrad Joungewaard, the Director of the Centinela Valley YMCA during the 1940’s, asked his support group called the Inglewood ‘Y’s Men Club, and the Y’s Mennetts (the female counterpart) to help build a place where nature and human nurture could come together. The volunteers worked together with the Calkin’s Family Construction Company, and built Camp at a site in the Barton Flats area of the San Bernardino Mountains – about 45 minutes south of Big Bear Lake. They named it Camp ‘Conrad’ in honor of the YMCA director who inspired its formation. The very first campers arrive in the summer of 1949.
In 1957, a young physician from the University at Loma Linda Hospital contacted the then current director of the YMCA Camp Conrad, Jim Risner, and asked if he could start a summer camp for children with type-one diabetes. The young physician, Dr. Robert F. Chinnock, wanted to provide children with diabetes a positive camping experience and demonstrate to everyone that, when managed correctly, these children could participate in the same activities considered only possible for children without diabetes. It was through the joint effort of these two pioneers, that the Southern California diabetes camping program was born.
Originally named, Camp DASC, an acronym for the Diabetes Association of Southern California, Camp DASC opened its doors at the Camp Conrad site to approximately 17 children with type-one diabetes. With the support of other medical volunteers, Dr. Chinnock tested urine by boiling chemicals in glass tests tubes to detect sugar in the urine, and sterilized enough glass syringes to administer the necessary daily shots of insulin to the campers.
Utilizing his counseling experience, Jim Risner, trained staff and developed a camp program designed specifically to include the routines necessary for monitoring and regulating children’s diabetes. Jim’s unique ability to center the program on individual development and personal growth soon set Camp DASC apart from other similar programs.
Their program flourished and grew from a one week to the current seven week summer program with additional weekends during the off-season; and from serving 17 children to serving over 600 children, as well as family members, every year.
In 1975, following Dr. Chinnock’s passing, the camp was renamed Camp Chinnock. Dr. John Mace, a fellow physician from Loma, assumed the role of Medical Director. Shortly after, the DASC restructured its organization and became the American Diabetes Association/ California Affiliate (ADACA) as camp’s long standing sponsoring agency, renaming the diabetes part of the program – Camp ADASC.
After Jim Risner’s retirement in 1979, Rocky Wilson, Ph.D. assumed the role of camp director. Having worked many years with Jim, Rocky carried on Jim’s traditions and camps spiritual influence. Rocky’s contribution to the field of counseling, and his psychological work with emotional issues associated with diabetes, continues to help Camp Chinnock become a model program for other camps.
In 1995, both the ADACA’s and Centinela Valley YMCA’s financial situations changed so drastically neither organization was able to continue operating Camp and its programs. Unwilling to watch camp close, four couples - Chet & Jan Pipkin, Dr. Wes & Tami Smith, Tom & Paula Wilson, & Dr. Rocky & Debi Wilson – founded the Diabetic Youth Services ,a non-profit organization that enabled them to continue, without missing a summer, the great programs of Camp. It was during that transition time that the camp was renamed Camp Conrad/Chinnock after the two great leaders that began the movement.
In 2006, under a fully functional all volunteer governing board, DYS was re-organized
and a new non-profit was created named Diabetes Camping and Educational Services (DCES).
Currently, Dr. Rocky Wilson serves as Executive Director, Alisha Dodd as Director of Operations, Dale Lissy as Camp Manager, Sue Lissy as Food Service Manager, and Melanie Coyne as Director of Camp Operations.