First Time Camp Nurse - Need Advice


  • Specializes in Emergency Nursing. Has 4 years experience.

I am a new nurse (Nov, 2014). I work in a large city Level 1 Trauma Center ED (been on my own 3 weeks now). We are located within about 10 mins of a major Children's Hospital, so we don't see a lot of peds pts.

I need advice on a pre-teen 3 day camp that I will be working in late June.

I suspect that I will see some dehydration, sunburn, homesickness, bug bites, and home meds. I am a mom of a 11 year old, so I hope that helps too.

Any words of wisdom from the seasoned camp nurses?

Any websites that I should study up on?


1 Article; 87 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Ortho, Camp. Has 7 years experience.

I think we need some more specifics before we can help. What kind of camp is it? Healthy kids? Special needs? Are you on your own, or will there be other nurses, an NP, or a doctor? Is the staff professional or volunteer? Is there a set up for medication delivery, or will you have to create one? What kind of documentation will you have to manage. Are there pre-existing protocols, standing orders, or a handbook?

As for websites, try the Association of Camp Nurses and this one. Good luck, welcome to the forum, and keep us posted!


40 Posts

Specializes in Emergency Nursing. Has 4 years experience.

Thanks for responding.......

*Healthy Kids - except for routine stuff (Diabetes, ADD, Asthma)

*I will be on my own

*I will be paid - there are officials that are professional, but volunteers are also utilized

*They have a system for distribution that they will show me prior kids/families arriving - I am responsible - My understanding that they have a protocol, but I have not seen it yet.


1 Article; 87 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Ortho, Camp. Has 7 years experience.

The big thing you have going for you is that it is only a three day camp. I like to tell new camp nurses to remember that camp nursing is a big job, sometimes brutal! Also wonderful. Find my article, on this site, on how to choose a camp. It has a good list of questions to ask the Camp Director. Get some face time with him or her soon.

Try, if they'll let you, to get to camp a day or two early to get settled and to get familiar with your health center. Hopefully, you'll be able to review the camper applications and plan your med passes and other nursing chores. Try to take a day off after camp -- you'll be tired!

What will you see? Mostly you might see what you listed in your first post. Bumps, boo-boos, dehydration, allergic reactions, sprains, all the way up to cardiac arrest. There is no way to predict how busy you will be. The first day will probably be pretty busy, since you'll be getting organized. On a short camp, about the time you start to get everything figured out it will be time to go home.

Don't let possible emergencies stress you. If something is not RIGHT NOW emergent, you or the Camp Director should call the parents and ask what they would like you to do. Then you're golden. For a true emergency, call 911 and get the problem rolling out of your health center. Call the parents (the CD can do this also), document, and move on. Find out in advance who goes to the ED with the camper. It shouldn't be you, since that leaves camp without a nurse. All that being said, it is pretty unlikely you will have to deal with a life or death situation. Be mentally prepared with a plan in case you do. Remember you are running a first aid station, not a hospital. Send the big stuff out. I like to tell my new nurses it is important to "get your head out of the hospital."

When you are not nursing, be sure and go to activities and have fun. Wear a pirate hat while you pass meds. Read a trashy novel.

Bring a headlamp to camp. You'll find it leaves both hands free. Don't forget bug spray and sunscreen. The rest is pretty much what you would pack for any weekend away.

I'm sure I've forgotten something. The other nurses here will chip in. Good luck! Be sure and let us know how camp went.