Salary for camp nurses

  1. This summer I will be a camp nurse for the first time. Does anyone know if there are laws/regulations regarding collecting pay for camp work while collecting vacation pay from your regular job? I would think that this would be an employer-specific issue (e.g., main job will not pay vacation pay if you will be getting paid by someone else for that time), rather than a state/federal law. Has anyone ran into problems in this area?
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    Joined: May '07; Posts: 2
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  3. by   JudithL_in_NH
    As far as can see, my primary employer has no power and no reason and no business dictating how I spend my vaca time :-)

    This summer will be my fourth season camp nursing, and I've drawn vacation pay from my primary employer (acute care hospital), each of the seasons. My employer is very aware that I use earned time to cover the time I'm at camp, and they don't seem to care in the least.

    I'd think it'd only matter if camp represented some kind of conflict of interest with your primary employer--but I can't really come up with a scenario in which that would apply.

    I hope you enjoy camp!
  4. by   nurse 1000
    What is the average pay for resident summer camp for 8 weeks, if your child is going for free and you have two children.


  5. by   campnurse
    I think that like any other job it depends on experience, availablity, and staffing needs. The cost of tuition at each camp is different and they take that into consideration- good luck and enjoy camp. lori
  6. by   standupfornurses

    I just lost a camp nurse job because I questioned the salary in writing.
    Because I spoke up for myself before signing a legally binding contact, I was fired before I began!!
    Please allow me to share what just happened to me. My 13 yr old wanted to go to a horse camp this summer, and since I had been a camp nurse 2/last 3 summers, I figured I could work at a camp where she could ride.
    So my daughter and I went on a tour with the two women directors in a very nice, 90 acre property with an impressive Equine Program. It cost the kids $1,100/ week. After the tour and a talk, We generally agreed that I would like to help them out for a week, for approx $500. Then when the contract came, It was basically $300. before taxes, etc, and then a $ 200. bonus, If or when you finished the complete time period. And since it was 24 hours day, no official breaks and no time off the property, I decided to write a note adressing some of my concerns, and asking for more money etc. In addition there was no job description in the contract, and I asked some specfic questions, which were advised by the American Camp Nurse Association. ( Check their website, very helpful).
    So basically, I asked if they would consider raising the rate of pay to $1000, for the week, and a specific 2-3 hour period each afternoon where I would be on a break, or off duty, And I requested one evening to be allowed to leave the property to go, home, get mail, attend to personal business, banking etc! I didnt think that was unreasonable!
    In addition, I aksed if I could bring my own tent to sleep in or just to have private time, since the Nurse's area was literally a two part closet sized room in the kitchen/dining hall. And since there would be food prep and dining and clean up.. a good part of the day, perhabs I could have a place to call my own nearby ? And I figured out that I would be either on duty, or on call/ available 24 hours a day for 8 days straight with NO official TIME OFF, for $2.45 hr, or something like $3.45 hr when you include the waived camper tuition. SO The reason why I am so upset is that the director just called me and said in a nutshell, since I had the ? nerve, audacity etc, to question the $300, possibly $500, that they would pay me, and since I actually had concerns and questions, than I was NOT the type of NURSE they wanted for their camp! When I attempted to explain that any reasonably prudent person would ask questions or attempt negotiations prior to signing a leagally binding contract!! She answered that I could have or should have asked those questions at the camp tour/interview. When I replied that I didn't think of everything at the time, that is why I was asking them prior to aigning the contract formally in writing... she just said how they didn't want a nurse who only thought about the money!
    And then I attempted to ask why they didn't value the professional expertise of nurses who are there to do what I feel to be a very important service, that is of maintaining the health and safety of 50 girls training with horses a (high risk activity -jumping horses, for 100 horse/ hours of lessons per day), and caring for injured riders, who through our expertise could be prevented from having potentially permanent head injuries or spinal cord injuries and or injuries resulting in dealth! And to do all of this 24 hours / a day for days and (weeks and months for some nurses) for very low compensation !
    All of us who acceptTo not accept unbelievably low pay, just because that's how it's always been done.!
  7. by   Nur_1996
    I think you were right to question them, after seeing the contract. Better that you found out before you started then after you were already there.
  8. by   kcangel
    Certainly you had every right to ask questions prior to signing anything - that's just good business sense too. My biggest concern would be her comment about that's not the type of nurse they want. So either they don't want nurses who speak up or they thought you were hard to get along with.
    There is certainly no "standard" of pay for camp nurses. The first camp I worked at was for 1 week at a time - no pay, all volunteer staff. I did it 2 years in row. The camp I work at now is also for 1 week at a time, sleep in a separate bedroom inside the clinic (it's actually pretty nice) but I do have to listen for late night visitors (not too many). My assistants sleep in cabins so it's just me for middle of the night issues. I open at the crack of dawn and close by around 10-11p. Basically if one of us wants a break we just cover for the other. No hard and fast rules. I get a $200 stipend for the week. I know it's not much, however I initially went into it thinking it was volunteer, so I was thrilled to get the $200. It is a lot of work and very hectic, but I love it so much I would do it for free.
    But, yes, overall the camp nursing positions are paid pretty low. Not sure of the rationale.
  9. by   edgwow
    Stand Up for nurses,
    This is unfortunate for you. I do not know if you are still going to be able to send your daughter there, but if not, it is more unfortunate for her. I believe that since you have previous camp experience, you must have other camp jobs that financially were able to provide a higher level of pay than many, many, others. I have done this for 6 summers. Some camps, do not allow 1 minute of scheduled private time, for at least 2-3 weeks, until coverage can be provided. Some make the nurse pay part of the camp tuition. You are not factoring in that you are essentially getting paid the $1,100 a week for camp tuition and that any payment is far more than what you would be paid a week as a staff nurse. I do not know any nurses making $1600 ($1,100 for riding camp and $500) for 1 week of work, regardless that it is 24/7, it is the nature of the beast. Camps do not have unlimited amounts of money to pay their staff. Many times, if they do not find adequate nursing help, they use the camp director, always CPR and first aid trained to tend to all sick campers.
    I found that many overnight programs pay approximately $400-500 per week for a seasoned camp nurse and no scheduled time off.
    You certainly have every right to question, and should, a change in the contract, from the verbal agreement.
    As for a job description, most camp nurses are required to attend to all sick, injured, staff, and all sick and injured campers.
    I am used to standing up for myself, but understand that if the nurse requires more pay, the pay is added on to each campers weekly rate. I could not afford to send my children to a camp that charges $1,100 a week if I did not work there. Yes, I am performing a valuable, compensatable service, but so are they. Impressive riding camps are difficult to come by and the financial compensation for the expert riding team of instructors are equally valuable.
    Camp nurses, do not usually make what they are worth, but we get to stay with our children in an environment where we have some control and get the children to experience the outdoors that we could not provide otherwise. It's a trade off.
    I understand they were upset, but personally, I would not even consider putting it in writing to them. If it could not be settled on phone, prior to signing the contract, I would just let them know that I was no longer interested.
    Do look else where for camp that suits both yours and your daughters needs.
  10. by   BonnieSc
    $500-$600 per week is considered a good salary based on everything I have seen and heard. The salary is low because camps are trying to control camper tuition. No one at camp makes a salary comparable to what they would make doing a similar position in the "real world". Usually the camp nurse is the highest-paid person in camp.

    It's unfortunate that many camps are unable to provide "scheduled" time off for the nurse. Most of my days don't require more than eight hours of work; occasionally they will. My camp requires that I work no more than five days a week to comply with employment laws. Usually this means one day off per week while the kids are in camp (we have 7-to-8 day sessions, two days off between). When I'm off, the camp director takes over. Definitely not ideal, but that's what we have to work with.

    Having worked on the "other side" of camp--as an administrator and a counselor--I understand where this camp director was coming from. It simply sounds like you didn't want to work with the camp facilities as they are. This is not criticizing you; not everyone wants to work everywhere. The camp was not in the position to make these changes, though very likely if you'd brought a tent for a private area, you could have set it up (probably not to sleep in, though). The camp director needs to hire nurses who will keep the status quo; you'd be amazed at how much of a director's time a nurse can take up with complaints and requests. Maybe you wouldn't have been like that, but the director was probably thinking that, based on your letter, you would be.