Camp Nurse. First time, is this par for the course?

Specialties Camp


I am currently at my camp for my first camp nurse job. There is so much I like about the camp...the variety of activities for the kids (my 2 kids re with me), how beautiful it is, and I am super lucky to have a great team in the infirmary BUT day 2 our infirmary director quit and left with her 2 family members who also helped us out so we are short staffed and working longer hours and no help until I leave in another week. 

I am curious what is normal or not for camp life. For example, I know we are camping and in nature, great...I love that BUT when I arrived it looked like my room had not been cleaned since the past Summer. I had to clean out quite a bit of mouse poop, sweep the floors and dust and everything off. It's not exactly what I imagined when I arrived late at night after a cross country flight. The place (everywhere, the cabins and activity areas for example) just seems like it is not being maintained well or updated. The food is almost all carbs, little protein, the daily salad is iceberg lettuce with a few cucumber slices and tomatoes and dressing. I was by no means expecting the Ritz and a gourmet kitchen but it seems that the place is pretty run down and not kept up and the food is sad especially for the amount of tuition these families are paying.

What have been others experiences? Is this just how it is? 

Editorial Team / Admin


18 Articles; 34,705 Posts

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

Hello @MakeLemonadeRN and welcome to allnurses

We moved your thread to the Camp Nursing forum for the best response. Our Camp Nurse expert, @NRSKarenRN, will come along with sage advice.


7,735 Posts

Specializes in retired LTC.

 - Welcome to AN. I would strongly, STRONGLY suggest that you change your screen name to something anonymous, esp since you have such concerns. Everybody reads these posts - not just nurses.

GOOD advice! Thank you! Will do

Specializes in Hospice.

Make Lemonade RN - what type of camp are you at and how many campers and staff? Does it operate year round or just for Summer. This info will help me appropriately respond to your questions.

As for the food, this is typical camp fare. The campers burn lots of carbs with all the activities and this is unfortunately what most kiddos eat at home. Camper preference is a big consideration for menus. What kids will eat at camp and what they should eat are 2 completely different things. I also discovered there is always yogurt available for breakfast as well as fresh fruit and raw veggie cups available at every meal upon request. The counselors clued me into these options. Pre-covid, the camp I volunteer at had a lovely salad bar with great alternatives that you could easily make a meal of but we are still single unit serving everything. The staffing of the kitchen also makes a difference. So many places are short staffed right now and unfortunately this impacts the menu in some ways. I'm fortunate, there's a fridge in the Wellness center for the nurses so I can stash a few healthy items to supplement meals and I keep a few shelf stable food items in my room (protein bars, jerky etc). 

Thank you so much for the reply. Don’t get me wrong I’ve had a great Summer and so have my kiddos. I am just wondering if this is how it is everywhere…..If the challenges are just all across-the-board the same such a short staffing, the food, quality of facilities, some staff struggling with morale given the long days and staffing challenges. 

This is a Summer camp only, coed ages 7-16 on a lake and this year we have 600 kids, the highest enrollment in several years.

I wish we had those breakfast options that sounds great! We do have a small fridge in our infirmary and we keep a few things there as well as snacks in our rooms. I’m also thinking from the kids perspective, it’s pretty tough. Funny enough the chef just approached me and another nurse and ask what they can do to improve the food! ?

Like I said, I’m real curious how other camp experiences have been this Summer

Specializes in Hospice.

If it's a Summer only camp then I'm kinda not surprised that it looked like it wasn't cleaned since last year. I volunteer at a year round facility so my accommodations are routinely cleaned.

Summer 2020 really affected most camps from a financial standpoint. This is turn affects how resources (people and financial) are allocated in preparing for the Summer. And there are additional cost associated with keeping up with all the current recommendations. To keep a camp up and ensure maintenance is completed is a year round full time + job. 

If you have an opportunity to provide feedback on your accommodations, this would be something to bring up. If the administration is aware of the impact it can have on nurses, they may try to ensure the nurse's quarters are a little more ready in the future. It might not even be on their radar. 

At the camp I volunteer for, we typically have 300 campers a week and 2 RN's who provide 24/7 coverage each session (Sun afternoon - Sat morning). We typically work together and split things up between us. Most of the time it works just fine. 

+ Add a Comment

By using the site, you agree with our Policies. X