Camp Nursing for tweeners undergoing puberty change

  1. Please write anything that is helpful with tweeners campers that are flashing in hormones causing them to cry, throw-up, have worse homesickness than first time campers causing them to be most difficult to offer interventions to. Last year of course I did the 7-up, call home nightly and listen routine, but one was so disruptive, finally when her air gulping and dry heeves let up for a few minutes so we could finally get the bus going home, our lunches were forgotten. Her attention demands were suffocating to all of us. She had a history of this behavior which we didn't know until the ride home. I hovered over her the entire 6 hour bus trip, changing sacks when she'd spit bile into a sack, cooling a wash cloth for her forehead and ever offering her sips of water.This was emotional more than physical of course but still interventions were needed, and provided. For her sake if I have her next year I will ask the parent if she can provide an anti emetic suppository. Any other suggestions out there? The child had tests that showed no stomach ulcers, no bladder problems, and so they determined it had to be connected to puberty. Anyone dealt with this?
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    About mbegeman

    Joined: Jun '04; Posts: 1

    7 Comments

  3. by   General E. Speaking, RN
    hmmm, not a camp nurse- sorry. Sounds like that kid doesn't belong at a summer camp!! Maybe, everyone could pitch in and give them a gift certificate to a local DAYCAMP. That being said, I do have a twelve year old girl who started getting emotional and dramatic at the age of 10ish. I told my husband that if I didn't know any better I'd swear she was having PMS. Sure enough, she started her period when she was eleven. Not sure but I have a gut feeling that if I shipped my daughter off to a summer camp when she didn't want to go....yea... I can see her exhibiting some of the physical symptoms like the kid on the bus, n/v (real or imagined). I think camp is good for kids but you have to take into account the child's personality. Did this child want to go to camp???
  4. by   Antikigirl
    There is a serious physical and emmotional probelm going on with that child, and she needs help. Not something a camp nurse is going to be able to solve without much help from her parents, PCP, and a councelor or two!

    When I would have children come in and get this upset...or even violent...I knew there was a very large foundational probelm underlying the behavior that more than likely I would be unable to find because I was not in her normal environment. Some could have stemmed from abuse at home or school, others were simply children whom were so use to home that a new environment was cause for extreme anxiety to the point of severe physical s/sx. I even found a few children that did this because they didn't want anyone to know they had nocturia and wanted to leave!

    One day I did find a girl that didn't know what menses was! She was taught that woman get their periods because they sinned, and here is this little gal in a totally different environment scared out of her mind that she had sinned by having fun with boys and girls at camp! She was mortified, and kept it all quiet till finally she couldn't anymore and blew! Histerics wouldn't define the volume of her physical and emotional state..it went beyond! She was terrified to tell me that she started her period, and that her only sin she could think of is she saw a cute boy and wanted to kiss him! That poor girl was a wreck...and physically unable to attend and was sent home. Lucky for me I was a nurse at outdoor school, and was able to talk to her school nurse and get her some help...it was nice to have another nurse closer to that childs normal environment to talk to and illicit help!

    Now in times of PMS/mense, I would have chocolate at the ready and start up a discussion after I gave some ibuprophen to help with cramps or pain. I also had a rice sock I could nuke up for heat comfort. While we waited for these implementations to work, I would sit them down for some tea (chamomile or other soothing variety of choice) and chocolates and have a nice little "tea party" (yes I had real china I brought from my own home!). We would discuss home life, and how similar it was to camp life if you looked at it. We would discuss the fun things you can't do at home that are available here, and it would really give you an insight if you actively listened! I would have classical music playing too...that helped mostly to get those tears welling in their eyes out of the way so we could actually get to a laughing point (can't laugh well with tears at the ready!). This implementation really helped me and my clients! And pretty soon with a hug and trust, I had that child having more fun then they did before...and in the end...saying that they never wanted to leave!

    One warning though..this can backfire and you could have 10 girls at your office at 2200 all complaining of cramps! LOL! So you have to find your own way of keeping this tactic a secret and special for just that one child (each child should feel this was special for just them or it really doesn't work on the trust issue as well!). And keep your china locked up and hidden...I had mine drying in the bathroom sink after washing it out, and I was sending a kid home...so I had a room full of parents and kids and didn't keep my eye on my stuff in the bathroom...yep, 20 minutes later after everyone was out of my room ALL of it was gone! Thank goodness it was a set I got at a thrift store for a few bucks..but that really hurt me inside that I gave my trust and caring and got that in return...eh, I got over it...kinda..LOL!

    Good luck to you, and try to find a fun way to have children open up a bit so you can peer in and see what their normal environment is like..it does volumes towards your implementations. And try to find and use resources out of the camp setting as well for when those kids go home and still need help! School nurses, a report to their PCP, or even a list of councelors in their area given to the parents can be helpful depending...
  5. by   hmcna
    I've done a few years of summer camp.... as an RN... .

    I find the best way to deal with kids who are homesick is to get them busy, and involved in activities....

    When the menses and homesickness fall together.... I would medicate (IBU or Midol etc) .... and give a bit of time for a private bathroom use if they wanted it..... but then out they'd go.
  6. by   sakima
    I am a camp nurse and a school nurse. I make sure that the councelor's are involved in homesicknewss by distraction most kids do not come back to the clinic the next day.
    your story seems over whelming and i tend to agree with the other reply's. Hang in there and hope that never happens again! good luck next summer!
  7. by   cecilia mary
    Sounds to me like this child just does not want to go to camp.... what is the point of making her go? Camp is not for everyone. I had one girl last year with much milder problems. I hooked her up with some same age campers and she was fine. Also... we found out what she likes to do (soccer) and had some games. Another suggestion, see if this tween has a friend who wants to go to camp with her. Friends are so important at this age. I think the more we make a fuss over the undesirable behavior, the worse it gets. This does not sound like typical behavior for a girl in puberty.



    Quote from mbegeman
    Please write anything that is helpful with tweeners campers that are flashing in hormones causing them to cry, throw-up, have worse homesickness than first time campers causing them to be most difficult to offer interventions to. Last year of course I did the 7-up, call home nightly and listen routine, but one was so disruptive, finally when her air gulping and dry heeves let up for a few minutes so we could finally get the bus going home, our lunches were forgotten. Her attention demands were suffocating to all of us. She had a history of this behavior which we didn't know until the ride home. I hovered over her the entire 6 hour bus trip, changing sacks when she'd spit bile into a sack, cooling a wash cloth for her forehead and ever offering her sips of water.This was emotional more than physical of course but still interventions were needed, and provided. For her sake if I have her next year I will ask the parent if she can provide an anti emetic suppository. Any other suggestions out there? The child had tests that showed no stomach ulcers, no bladder problems, and so they determined it had to be connected to puberty. Anyone dealt with this?
  8. by   |nexus|
    I worked at a camp with 72 thirteen-year-olds last year. They kept me very busy. Many girls got their periods for the first time at camp. Since most of the children were undergoing growth spurts they weren't very used to their bodies and they seemed to get injured a lot more than children in other age groups. Between all of these problem and other miscellaneous problems, the health center was usually pretty busy. My advice would be to work with a smaller amount of campers if possible, or maybe even ask for an assistant.
  9. by   CampNurse1
    I've always believed that maladaptive behavior is caused by anxiety, so strategies to relieve anxiety are best. That and a good prostaglandin inhibitor! TriageRN's post is a thing of beauty.

    Too many camps refer behavioral issues to nursing! With a few exceptions, I refer those cases back to Camp Staff, after assessing for physical issues.

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