Camp Nurse?

  1. I graduated nursing school last year and was able to work on a med surg floor for a couple of months. Needless to say it didn't work out but now i have been offered a position for a camp nurse. I worry that my relative new nursing experience has me feeling a little overwhelmed where i will be responsible for 200 campers with one other nurse.
    Is this good learning experience? i do love working with people more than anything
  2. Visit marsbar37 profile page

    About marsbar37, BSN, RN

    Joined: Jan '15; Posts: 39; Likes: 29

    26 Comments

  3. by   kidzcare
    I worked as a camp nurse last summer and plan to for the next few years (while my kids are of age to attend).

    I would not recommend it until you have more experience. There will be times when you are completely on your own and you need to be able to make quick decisions regarding emergency and urgent care. There won't be someone else there to bounce ideas off of. Those quick assessment skills can only come with experience.

    There was a new nurse who worked at the camp with me last summer. It was 3 experienced nurses and her and we were all on edge when we knew she was on her own at the health center. We all felt responsible for all the campers and it was hard to know that she did not have the assessment skills to work on her own.
  4. by   NutmeggeRN
    I would be concerned as well.

    How familiar are you with anaphylaxis, signs and symptoms? Do you know how to use an epi-pen?
    Are you familiar with using a peak flow meter to assess the status of an asthmatic, use of a nebulizer and MDI and spacers?
    What is your experience with orthopedic issues, knowing when to send an injury or monitor it?
    How far is EMS? Is there an MD available?

    Lots of stuff to consider, especially if you will be alone.
    Last edit by NutmeggeRN on Apr 9 : Reason: spelling
  5. by   XingtheBBB
    What have you talked about with that other nurse? How much will she be available to you? How close is EMS? What is your medical support? What kind of personality are you- especially in an emergency?

    Is it a good learning experience? Undoubtedly, if you have enough strengths to build on. My camp is fortunate to be close to 2 EMS services, an hour (lights and sirens) from CHOP and St Chris, and an hour normal drive from a community children's ER. Just 2 hours from my camp, a camp EMT did compressions for 30 minutes waiting for help a couple years ago. My aunt did 45 minutes at an Easter Seals camp a decade ago. I *count* on my life guards, admin staff, some counselors giving me relief in that type of situation but when it happens, will they? A lot can depend on you and it's a wild toss of dice whether you'll see a real emergency or just a parade of band aids, rolled ankles, hot day headaches, and homesickness.

    My camp is not special needs- 100 campers means about 30 med doses daily, 5-10 epi pens, 10-20 inhalers. In my first year, I had a brand new EMT as my aide, she was not prepared to be there and I ended up doing a lot of extra time on camp and phone-call support. She was also Type A and tantrummed if she didn't get to eat on time. Sigh. Welcome to health care. That was the year that I had a parent cursing me out on the phone because they were angry that I called EMS before asking them. Their child hit her head and couldn't remember their own name or what happened. They said she was faking it and I would have to pay any bills. She wasn't faking the unresponsive, uneven pupils or the bradycardia but the parents chased the ambulance to the hospital and signed out AMA. Thankfully, most concussions are very minor but then the trick is picking up on them- don't provide too much worry or too little care! The same with wrist and ankle injuries. We complain about nursing being treated as customer service but CAMP actually is, so those fine lines need to be walked.

    I advise any camp health professional to take a PALS class if you can and read the books if you can't. Do you need to know the indication and dose per kg of adenosine at camp? Of course not! But PALS is SUCH an awesome course on recognizing early signs of deterioration and mentally organizing the situation. Also read up on mental health, take a Stop the Bleed first aid class, read Linda Erceg's Basics of Camp Nursing,

    Some great things? CAMP! Camp is awesome if you are camp-folk. Not every one is. Kids are actually being kids in their natural (dirty) habitat. They are doing fun guided activities and spontaneous ones as well. The songs will be stuck inside your head and one night, you'll wake up and not be able to go back to sleep until you know WHY Princess Pat lives in a tree? (and then you will learn more about Canadian military history than you imagined) Your wardrobe will never be the same after you get tired of tie dying shirts and move onto socks. You'll wear those socks to the hospital some day when you are rebelling against having to put on scrubs on a 90 degree September day and you miss rumpled t shirts and soccer shorts and even unbrushed hair. Your vocab will never be the same after you have British, Australian, and German roommates and you will find out that when you travel the world, you have sofas to sleep on in 7 countries! The kids will be happy to see you when you escape the health center and walk around camp (bonus points if you get to go swimming!) You'll get hugs on Fridays and notice that they've grown a lot inside and maybe outside since they arrived on Sunday and the next year, you'll be excited to see how much they've grown again. You will learn about how health care works when you take two kids to the clinic for ankle pain and one has the right insurance and the other doesn't. You'll learn Ottawa ankle rules and be able to debate PECARN vs CATCH vs CHALICE head diagnostics. You'll sound brilliant when you discuss Lyme disease risk and epidemiology with anxious parents. You'll ride in golf carts. You'll glow with pride when the message comes back that the ortho surgeon at CHOP complimented your SAM splint application (even though it was actually your first time... and you'll never admit that to anyone) You'll develop legit preferences of "band aid" materials and brands. You'll learn about essential oils for ADHD. Maybe you'll try the high ropes, rock wall, canoeing, and ride a horse. Maybe you'll like one of those things so much that you'll get trained as a facilitator and can work extra weekends during the year! (because you'll learn that camp sickness is real when you cry in a Macy's changing room because they just played a song that makes you think of camp.) You'll wear a tiara at least once. You'll learn task organization and new levels of flexibility. You'll gain leadership and management skills. You might end up with a resume touting your protocol writing.
  6. by   marsbar37
    Thank you so much! I really want to do this but i do have the new nurse anxieties. You have given me some wonderful advice. I will bring my A game to make sure i can deliver the best healthcare i can. I have to find out whom the second nurse would be. Its been so hard this past year to try to find work and to stay positive so i'm hoping for the best
  7. by   MrNurse(x2)
    I am of the viewpoint, and it is not popular, that some positions require experience, period. This is one of those. School nursing, employee health and camp nursing, among others, put you in a solitary position. You can't fake it in a safe manner. You would never give a CEO position to a newly graduated MBA, or a Chief position to a new MD, why do nurses think it is OK for newbies to take solitary positions? Do not go to a camp where my children will be attending, I will be offended and not upset to offend you in the process. I am passionate about this, please do those children a favor and don't do it, sorry if that was not the answer you wanted, but that is the truth.
  8. by   OldDude
    I've done camp nursing a few times; my kids were allowed to attend free if I agreed to be the nurse - only nurse there. It was more work than I had anticipated. Those kids were running amok in the woods, diving, swimming, rope courses, football, soccer, soap on a tarp games, etc; endless possibilities for injury plus the usual "health" related issues and medications.

    I've used this example for school nursing before...imagine yourself working in an ER except there is no doctor, no other nurse or tech, and no one else in the hospital to call for help...just you to assess and intervene for every imaginable issue and every issue you can't imagine. That is camp nursing.
  9. by   ruby_jane
    Will you be the only nurse there? Is there a doc on site? If the answers are yes and no, don't do it. If not...see if there's a P&P manual you can view beforehand. At my kid's camp, it's 90% routine, but the remaining 10% is crazy and if I didn't have a doc behind me I wouldn't go back there.
  10. by   kidzcare
    Quote from OldDude
    I've done camp nursing a few times; my kids were allowed to attend free if I agreed to be the nurse - only nurse there. It was more work than I had anticipated. Those kids were running amok in the woods, diving, swimming, rope courses, football, soccer, soap on a tarp games, etc; endless possibilities for injury plus the usual "health" related issues and medications.
    When I was researching camp nursing, the thing I read over and over was "DO NOT BE THE ONLY NURSE AT A CAMP" and it makes a lot of sense! At the camp I'm working at there are 4 nurses so someone is always on duty and we have plenty of off time. I'm sure there are other great camps out there that staff their health centers well, but I feel like I found one of the best. I am so happy with it and glad that my kids love it!


    OP- there is a "Camp Nurse" forum under the Specialties tab. You may find more advice there.
  11. by   marsbar37
    i appreciate the comments and have expanded my options to camps with more than 2 or more nurses. im having a hard time with this. i have been almost a year with no job and all nursing jobs want experienced nurses. how do i get experience and still put food on my table???
  12. by   OldDude
    Quote from marsbar37
    i appreciate the comments and have expanded my options to camps with more than 2 or more nurses. im having a hard time with this. i have been almost a year with no job and all nursing jobs want experienced nurses. how do i get experience and still put food on my table???
    Age old problem...how do I get experience if no one will give me a chance to get experience? I hear ya.

    But I did, pause if you will, when I read you worked on a med-surg floor for a couple months as a new grad and "needles to say it didn't work out." "Needless to say" kind of surprised me in that I took it to say we should have expected it to not work out for you. Not sure what or how to respond in regard to your unemployment issue.
  13. by   MrNurse(x2)
    Quote from marsbar37
    i appreciate the comments and have expanded my options to camps with more than 2 or more nurses. im having a hard time with this. i have been almost a year with no job and all nursing jobs want experienced nurses. how do i get experience and still put food on my table???
    My wife was an experienced nurse with a 2 year period of unemployment. I get it and I understand your plight. Despite the media driven narrative, there is not a nursing shortage in most major markets. We have "positions" open at my subacute facility, but no one gets hired. The economy may be booming everywhere, but health care is lagging, and given ACA constraints on reimbursement, don't see it changing anytime soon. Good luck on your search.
  14. by   marsbar37
    needless to say expresses my deep shame of being let go after 6 weeks of orientation. it addresses my deepest fear that i'm too stupid to be a nurse

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