Camp Nurse Experience

Specialties Camp


Hello! I’m a first year ADN student and after Summer I’ll be starting my second year. In searching for colunteer opportunities in the Summer, I found Summer camps that hire student nurses. I start at camp in a month and I’m really excited. I am hoping that the experience I get at the camp will help make up for the clinical hours we had to miss due to covid. Does anyone have any tips or advice? Anything I can do to get ready, or any topics I should review or learn ahead of time to be better prepared? 

Also, for any that have done camp nursing, what skills did you learn? What skills were practiced or developed that helped you in your nursing career or education?

Sounds like it can be a fun and interesting experience... I only hope that you are going to be working along side a professional and experienced staff. I sincerely hope that you are not going to be there alone.  

Nadmoose, RN

10 Posts

5 hours ago, 203bravo said:

Sounds like it can be a fun and interesting experience... I only hope that you are going to be working along side a professional and experienced staff. I sincerely hope that you are not going to be there alone.  

Thank you. Goes without saying I won’t be alone. I think that would probably be illegal. I actually got hired at more than one camp but specifically chose that one because my conversation with one of the RNs working there was so amazing. She made me feel like she will really support and teach me. I just want to know how I can prepare ahead of time to make myself more useful. 

I have no advice as I've never been a camp nurse.. but there is a camp nurse topic thread here on AN.... have you been over there to see if those that do it Summer after Summer could offer advice?

(I did get to work at a water park one Summer as a paramedic.. it was an experience   :)

I'm sure someone in this group would be more than happy to offer your some great advice.  Enjoy your Summer

Editorial Team / Admin


18 Articles; 34,705 Posts

Specializes in Education, FP, LNC, Forensics, ED, OB.

Hello @Nadmoose

We moved your topic to the Camp Nursing forum for feedback from some of our experienced Camp Nurses. Good luck!

Specializes in School Nursing.

My first nursing job was at a camp, now I've been doing it for almost a decade. I started with a nurse who literally took me by the hand and taught me so much. I now take new grad nurses and nursing students and do the same for them.  It sounds like your conversation with the RN was great and important in your choice to work there - so wishing you the best!

I would check out and browse through the School Nursing thread on here (under specialties). We talk a lot about case studies and situational things that we run into in the generally well population.   I would ask questions about chronic disease management (seizures, diabetes, asthma, life threatening allergies, etc) and if you have free time, see if they will role play the scenarios with you. 

Be your own best advocate - ask for a chance to listen to lung and heart sounds when the nurse is assessing someone and finds something atypical. 

Interact with staff, I'd say a big part of our role is staff education. Teaching them signs/symptoms of things needing immediate assessment and emergency first aid while waiting for Nurse/911 for things like a seizure.

You could also see if you can run a health-based activity for the kids.   My campers love when I do this twice a Summer, once for younger kids and once for older. We practice "wilderness" splinting with sticks and ace wraps, give them "eye patches" correctly with gauze and tape, let them listen to their own hearts/lungs.   All of this translates into being an educator and will look good in the future when you can talk about it in interviews. 


Possibilities are ENDLESS!  It sounds like you're already taking a lot of initiative; kudos to you!

Specializes in Hospice.

The camp I volunteer for also uses a student nurse - the position is called "nurse intern". Every week has 2 different volunteer RN's, the nurse intern is consistent through the Summer. 

Our nurse interns have learned so much and it's been a great experience for them. Working with different nurses every week from very diverse areas of nursing gives them exposure to seeing things done in different ways. It also gives them a chance to ask questions about different areas of nursing. 

In response to your question about what to do to prepare; I'd say the biggest thing is be ready to learn and bring a positive attitude. Just like any other nursing job there will be parts of your job that you love much more than others - but each part of the job is important. Keeping the health center clean, supplies stocked appropriately and being willing to help with whatever is important. Know where things are so you can quickly get them is a huge help, especially if more serious situations occur. 

Also figuring out how to help campers calm themselves down and distract them when needed is something to consider. Many times psychosocial issues land in the health center - either as the primary reason or along with another medical issue. 

Home Health Columnist / Guide


11 Articles; 18,138 Posts

Specializes in Vents, Telemetry, Home Care, Home infusion.

Missed this thread....

I just came back from visiting my Summer camp as last there 25yrs ago and they added 100 acres, so needed to get the lay of the new facilities.

1. Camp setup: You will need to bring own linens, towels, clothes, swim shoes, toiletries etc.  Storage space is at a premium, often just one large wood cubby with 2 shelves or wire shelf -- duffle type bag with wheels allows you to keep clothes, personal items stored in it under the bed --get small lock for it.  I bring small runner rug to place next to bed to add color and protect feet getting OOB.  Need own hand soap for personal bathroom area.  Infirmary air conditioned or is personal fan needed?

  After getting personal space setup, cleaning cabinets, setting up beds (just use bottom sheet on bed for those just needing to rest., stocking cabinets come next.  I liked to have 1 cot as "trauma" location to get injured camper easily into (away from prying eyes) that had access on both sides. 

2.First aid #1 issue I've experienced: cuts, boo-boos, scrapes, Gaga knuckles (ball hit by hand inside inside octogon pit --kids should bring golf gloves to avoid).  Hydrogen peroxide + cotton ball cleaning, triple antibiotic + bandaid the cure.  Surnburn --aloe gel, baking soda paste helpful.   Bee stings-ice down, check for stinger -use tweezers to remove.

3.  " Ice for Injury" -- daily ice chest run to dinning hall , small sandwich bag was my prior tx for scrapped knees bruises, swollen finger, etc.   The mysterious  missing ice when basketball/football players descend past infirmary and overheated.  This year will try school nurse forum suggestion of freezing  wet paper towels for cold compress  (have large frige with freezer.and hid the ice chest inside office for serious injury.

3. Medical staff should review with you serious health issues:  juvenile diabetics, asthmatics, seizures, food allergies   Tell the staff you want to practice lung assessment --could you listen for wheezing once asthmatic child calmer.

You should be able to do screening pulse ox, + TPR -- great practice experience.   Diabetics:  who's responsible for glucometer testing, campers have insulin pumps-- who oversees them changing sites, continuous monitor use. etc.  Any possibility for observation?

4. Inquire infirmary schedule and medication admin. Sleep away camps often have few campers needing allergy shots. Are you able to administer?  Are meds given at infirmary or dinning room during meals.  Are they blister packed or RX bottles --nurses give out or do campers take from med bottles --policies vary by camp/state.  Need Meal time schedule!  Set sick call time --otherwise inudated all day with complaints.

5. Fire evacuation and Emergency phone # list --review.   How long for ambulance to arrive --- is 911 available or is it remote location needing to call air ambulance,  time interval to local hospital.   Is there a physician on site? Who takes a camper needing xray/cast?

One year our camp caretaker had a cardiac arrest while in the office falling halfway in/out of office owner doorway. Camp doctor and I did CPR-- took 20 min for ambulance to arrive in country area, another 20 min to the hospital, did not survive.. I should have known to call state police for air ambulance transport.

6.  Documentation: EMR system or bound notebook to record campers complaints.  Nurse intern used as scribe to record compliant: bug bit, rash, tummy ache, not feeling well, nurse added more detailed note. 

7. Infection control will be key this year due to COVID.  Are masks being required?  Should have clean and dirty areas. Plastic grocery bags great for nausea/vomiting, tie up, toss into trash can.  Who empty's trash, sweeps/mops floor, how often, Bathroom cleaning?  How often are infirmary linens/towels washed - who does laundry.  Our nursing staff did surface cleaning of table top surfaces and own room areas.   Bring personal mask supplies in case camp runs out so you'll be protected especaily during camper arrival days.  With Covid, PCR testing  required within 72hrs for our staff and campers --negative only permitted.  Staff are quarantining for 10 days prior to camp. Our Campers will be given Covid Antigen test day of arrival  -- is there any need for you to assist with testing?

Camp safety: campers need to wear sneakers, water shoes at pool---no running on roadway/paths, no black bugs in the ice cubes,

8. Work hours + time off:   Sleepaway camp 24/7 for up to 2 months.  If you have overnight camper in infirmary, who is up overnight. Are you scheduled in infirmary only during med times and sick call or is someone required during day/eve hours?  Our staff given 3 days off in 9 weeks -- can only stay in camp this year due  Covid.  Off times, are you able to use camp facilities, swim, ride horse, play sports, arts n crafts, use exercise equipment etc.

I'm lucky as camp is owned by my child's former pediatrician who's there 3 days a week,  evenings when not on call @ hospital.   So they would stitch up cut lip from fall, thigh filleted open from sliding on basketball court, remove wire from fish hook, debride wound from falling off go-cart into brush with retained twig in knee ( my child!),

Hope these hints help you this month,  Remember to smile and relax.  You can get through this Summer, get hooked and can't wait till next session on last day.

Specializes in Urgent Care NP, Emergency Nursing, Camp Nursing.

My experience is working at BSA Summer camps as a Health Officer, which are a different setting than most Summer camps you'll see discussed here.  While the exact situation varies depending on local state laws and regulations regarding Summer camps, in order to work for a Scout camp you'll need to have some sort of completed certification in order to be a Health Officer, although that can be as low as Medical First Responder/Emergency Medical Responder.


7,735 Posts

Specializes in retired LTC.

I usually learn something new from NRSKaren.  Same again.

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