Camp Sick-a-lot?

Nurses General Nursing


Got back from boy scout camp with my kid and I wrote the camp director about these concerns:

*No hand soap in ANY bathrooms. The kids were assigned to set the tables in the mess halls with essentially dirty hands.

*No toilet paper in most bathrooms

*No plan to routinely dump trashcans in the few bathrooms where there were trashcans

*Raw meat allowed to stand at outside temperature (+100 degrees) for an extended period of time (x1 only)

*Health person administering unlabeled meds (only one situation that I knew of....)

*Kids sharing water containers. (actually I did a lot of this myself because we had to keep them hydrated, but my complaint is that kids weren't told to bring a personal water container).

Anyhow, experienced parents and any former camp nurses, is this usual or typical? I wrote my letter but one of our scouting leaders told me that the camp director feels that the "bring to camp list" includes soap and that is all that is necessary.


First, I have been sending my children to Boy Scout, Girl Scout and church camps for more than 13 years, with a total of more than 20 weeks of camping all together, and have never met any of those situations. Have met a few others that I wasn't happy with.

For health violations, first stop is the county health department, or sometimes the state dept. of health. Camps have to be licensed, and cleanliness is #1.

Next stop is the Boy Scout Council. Camp directors do not have carte blanche. They answer to a board of directors.

Next stop is Boy Scouts of America. They have very strict rules about camps that are affiliated with them. They have the power to close a camp or even force a council to sell it.

Lastly, at least for your son or troop, if the council refuses to address these problems at the camp, go to a different camp next year, and let the council from the old camp know how many boys they lost and why.

Good Luck!

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

jenniferj did a great job of addressing chain re followup after you get reply from camp director, if not satisfied.

I have 8 years girl scouts and 7 years private camps nursing staff experience. The director of theis camp missed the boat on several safety issues. Did you serve as camp staff or scout parent? How was the chief medical person. Call and bring each of these concerns to camps board of directors on Monday, as I assume they have camping sessions still occuring.

At private camp, had problem with kitchen/diningroom staff not listening to me re fruit with moldy edge being sliced and served in pieces, same week bug infestation in ice machine, with bugs immersed in cubes. Immediately went to camp director and imformed him, if problem not immediately addressed, board of health to be called. Ice thrown out 10 min after my phone call and fruit insudes only served.

Sometimes scouts expect each troup to furnish items and patrol bathrooms.

Raise a stick for the health of all scouts.

Here is link to Camp nurse association for more info:

thanks to both of you for your replies.

I have started by writing a letter to both the camp director and the highest exec at our BSA office currently. It actually went out before I posted. I had shared my concerns with another adult leader and she told me she supported me completely.

I know my local health department personnel well and I even know a number of people at the state department of health, having done a practicum there several years ago and in my letter, I referred them to many of the same listed resources, but I appreciate your replies because I wanted some reassurance that I wasn't over reacting.

From what the other leader said to me, it is clear that the no soap thing is a long standing approach. The camp director told my adult leader friend that scouts are instructed to bring soap to camp. We (she and I) both agreed that this means body soap to most humans and I don't really care, young boys are not going to carry bar soap with them so they can wash their hands in the latrine. And I did say that a potential solution was to put Hand Soap on the bring list. I think budget is an issue for the camp but soap is so much cheaper than illness and negative PR.

Karen, I appreciate the camp nurse link.

The incident with the meds involved a kid in our pack whose mom accompanied and had brough all two or three of his meds in one bottle in the name of efficient packing. So the health director was administering "the pink pill" per the instruction of the parent. I told the camp director in my letter that I would not give meds that were not correctly labeled and I didn't think his camp health personnel should either.

And, Jennifer, I though camps had to be licensed, too, but it was hard to see the impact of licensing on this camp. And the Boy Scouts are so rule bound that taking a simple car trip requires tons of planning, so I couldn't imagine that the didn't have policies that covered my concerns. But I think this camp failed to adhere to existing rules. I serve in a small pack level role, so my plan is to let my letter percolate and be on them like a dirty diaper over time.

Thanks to both of your for your support.

Boy! You really have to be careful where you send your kids to camp. The best camps in my area are run by the local YMCA. Excellently managed, safe, well-staffed, and fun! My teenage daughter now volunteers as a camp counselor-in-training (CIT), because of her good experiences and memories that she had at Y-camp. I highly recommend the YMCA camps.

This is off the topic but after reading the posts I'd thought I'd ask...Why send your kid to camp?

Is it because affordable babysitters are hard to find? Is it a requirement of the scouts to attend a camp? I have never known someone who sent their kids to camp but always have been curious as to why someone would choose to be without their kids for several weeks at a time.

Not to mention...who does their chores when they are gone?

Just asking,


Specializes in Hospice, Critical Care.

Why send your kids to camp? I did not send my kids to camp this year but I wanted to. Camp is a great experience for them! I went to summer camp for 2 weeks as a child and had a GREAT time. It's not to "get rid of the kids" for several weeks--it's FOR THE KIDS. It's not a matter of "choosing to be without their kids for several weeks."

I have wonderful memories of camp fires and sleeping in a cabin and building new friendships and learning new skills. Swimming in the lake and eating in the "mess hall." Learning camp songs and doing camp crafts. Plotting against the boys and giggling in the night.

Camp is NOT a subsitute babysitter. And it's certainly not because it's AFFORDABLE. I didn't send my kids to camp because I couldn't afford to send three children to a reputable camp. Why do you see it as something parents do to get rid of kids?! Did you have a bad experience with camp as a child?


I detect a tone of hostility in your last post.

I certainly didn't mean to offend anyone. I was simply asking. I never went to camp nor did any of my friends. Perhaps it is an Eastern USA thing. I was simply asking about it and why.

If my ignorance was out of line I am sorry.


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

Ditto everthing Zee said. Hmn, why go to camp?

As a Girl Scout I went camping on the weekends and learned about the outdoors, something my Mother being city reared had minimal experience with. I went to day camp for two weeks every summer for about 9 years, at my request, due my first few weekend experiences and loved it .

I was the oldest and only girl. No one was my age in a neighborhood full of kids. I got to go and be with kids my own age and make friendships. I learned to do things own my own, try new things, like swing on a tire swing, something my mother wound of frowned on fearing I'd get hurt. The nature lady taught me which plants were harmful, how to tell type of tree and build a campfire safely, What berries were safe to eat and importance of conservation. I learned to cook on an open fire,including bake a cake; learned how to use a pocket knife and enjoy the outdoors. There during my 7 hours away from my parents and their ideas of who I was and what I could do, I could try any activity and stretch my wings.

I developed leadership skills and was assistant staff at age 16 and learned first aid...which gave me the idea about nursing since i was praised for hellping the little kids. I never got to stay at overnight camp, as my parents couldn't afford it, but always dreemed of swimming in a lake and having even more fun with friends.

As an adult with young children, I had the opportunuty to work at a summer over night camp, 9 week session for 5 years, then two years day camp. I saw so many children dependent on their parents for everything or were afraid of making a mistake, blossom due to their time away from camp. They learned to be responsible for their self, cleaning up their living spaces and folding clothes, and take a risk by singing in front of a group, doing skits or tackeling a swiming fear. Kids have little time with free play these days and camp provides that ability.

Camp lore is about the mistakes and problems and how the kids overcame them/got over punishments because they stretched camp rules too far and all the friendships they made.

For the past two 2 years I 've worked full time and the boys went only to Boy Scout camp overnight for 1 week. My 15 1/2 year old can't wait for next summer to be able to return to summer camp as staff with his brother and friend. He recalls with fondness both the good and bad times periodicly over the winter months. Since they grow up so fast, I'm glad that he can recall fun times.


That sounds like fun!

I didn't realize all that went on. Perhaps it is a cultural thing that "camp" isn't a biggie over here. Also we live in the Mts. and camp frequently. We also have a large extended family and skits and performing in front of large groups is a part of growing up. We have horses and livestock so the kids have grown up learning outdoor skills. It's not unusual to take the horses to the high for a few days.

Hmm... I wonder if there is a "city camp" where they could go see city stuff and visit museums and ride public transportation and the like. Would be interesting eh?

Thanks for the picturesque post. I have a clearer idea now.



Summer sleep away camp began as an East Coast phenomenon to improve the morbidity and mortality rates of city children in the late 19th century. Rationale was once in the mountains or rural area, away from the hot humid overcrowded cities, the children had less risk of dying from illness due to communicable disease and poor sanitation. Tuberculosis, influenza, hook worm, yellow fever, malaria, polio, and food poisoning were all great killers and disablers of children around the turn of the twentieth century on the East Coast.

My son is 12 and an only child. He loves camp, he tells me it's the only time he can be surrounded by boys and do boy things like sports, swimming, yelling, running around. Boy this kid loves camp. It is not cheap but the letters home are great!

He does overnight camp for two weeks. All mom and dad can stand, we miss him. Please they do not sleep at overnight camp, having too much fun talking...

Then day camp the rest of summer because mom works and no way will he hang out at home. He loves the YMCA camp, and yes they do make sure they wash hands, keep food/drink clean and cold etc.

I send him with body wash, and he knows mom's a nurse so he washes after the bathroom.

I never went to camp, no money, we drove my mom nuts :)

Nice chatting..

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