I wanted to share my experience about a camp with you so that you are warned out of a terrible experience. I worked this summer for Long Lake Camp in Long Lake, NY. The staff was great and the kids were wonderful, but the administration is a whole different story. Constant talking down on us, lying to our faces, blaming us for things we didn't do, disagreeing with crucial nursing judgement on a consistent basis, and rarely listening to our concerns. The administration would take turns going on power trips over us- for what reason I am not sure. They have not been able to retain a single nurse so far and I know why.
I still love being a nurse and I take pride in the fact that I still gave excellent medical care to all my patients this summer, but I will never return to Long Lake Camp again. All the other nurses that worked there with me said the same thing. We were shocked at the constant demeaning unprofessionalism. I am sure camp nursing can be great, but please, steer clear of Long Lake Camp.
Sorry to hear you had a bad experience. Camp is a very different practice environment, and difficulty with management can be common. I have come access a few red flags over the years.
1. No MD on site or specifically under the employ of the camp.
2. None clinical management, with the complete lack of a clinical head.
3. Lack of or uneven application of a medication policy.
4. A lack of acceptance that camp health service is providing primary care as well as occupational health service to staff.
5. Clearly defining what is a medical problem and what is in the realm of psychosocial needs not a health concern.
If your interviewing be sure to get solid answers on how these issues are addressed. They are not necessarily deal breakers but sure to explore them throughly. Even then they are often issues to some degree at every camp.
The other issue really is that almost every nurse is walking into a speciality practice they have never done before, with very little information on how to find a good camp. Nobody would try and move from medsurg to NICU by taking a new job and moving across country based only on the interview at the new hospital. That's exactly what nurses who hire on at camps do most times.
If you can look back on your experience what red flags do you think you missed or dismissed?
I'm just chiming in to say that I, too, have had a difficult experience with camp nursing. I spent two summers at an all girl's camp in NH (ages 8-16, 'councilors' were 18-22'ish and all former campers). They were mostly "affluent" girls who spent their academic year in boarding schools & summers at camp. It was really enlightening on the work needed to help them establish the basic coping skills. Most of the girls requested a pill for every malady (sadly, I am not exaggerating), they expected to spend at least a day in the infirmary if they had so much as a headache (many wanted to spend an overnight too), and overreacted to very minor 'disturbances' to their day (scraped knees, periods, seasonal allergies, bug bites...). But they were very resistant to being led towards developing coping skills and autonomy. It was not only frustrating for me, but it was also a bit heartbreaking. I don't believe that camp nursing is a good fit for me. But it sounds like you had a different, overall, experience.
Quote from KatiejonD
Most of the girls requested a pill for every malady (sadly, I am not exaggerating), they expected to spend at least a day in the infirmary if they had so much as a headache (many wanted to spend an overnight too), and overreacted to very minor 'disturbances' to their day (scraped knees, periods, seasonal allergies, bug bites...). But they were very resistant to being led towards developing coping skills and autonomy. It was not only frustrating for me, but it was also a bit heartbreaking.
My last year at camp I had an 18-yr-old counselor like this. She ultimately came to be for a back pain complaint - I didn't find anything, told her s/s of a UTI to look out for, and told her that at this point, if it was musculoskeletal, we'd just have to amputate. She went wailing to her mother (who was also on staff) at that point, complaining that "TheSquire told me that I'd need to amputate my back!" Her mother, to her credit, just snickered and told her to suck it up.
I had a horrible experience at a Catholic camp in Western Washington. Toxic leadership bordering on scary. No supplies, such as sheet changes in between patients, or any other way of sanitizing the infirmary. One of the leadership staff came over when I went to a field where I could barely get reception to text (this was in the pre-smartphone, early days of mobile phones). She basically forbade me to use my phone. There was little to none sanitation and a big outbreak of probably a Norovirus amongst staff. I had no telephone access at all. There was a suicide on the property the day I arrived that they claimed was some other random person.
I never did camp nursing again after that and not too long after left the Catholic church.
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