What does a Camp Nurse do?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

A camp nurse is an individual with some nursing training, usually at least to the level of licensed vocational or licensed practical nursing or registered nursing, who works at a camp to take care of the health needs of the campers. Usually this means working with kids, and age of the camp population can vary depending on its type. Some camp nurses work locally near their homes, and others travel to the location and stay for the duration of the camp term, which is most often at least part of the summer. In this work, camp nurses will perform a number of jobs.

Camp nurses typically deal with children with acute as well as chronic health concerns.
Camp nurses typically deal with children with acute as well as chronic health concerns.

The first of these is to take care of and assess the health of any child that gets ill or gets injured. This may mean close supervision of children, including taking basic vitals and determining whether a physician or emergency services are needed. Camp nurses may have rooms set up for sick children to stay, to minimize contact with rest of the camping population and so that children needing help receive more attentive and watchful care.

When children do get ill or injured, nurses must also contact family members. It may be a matter of minutes or several days’ worth of conversation and evaluation to determine if it’s best for the child to remain in camp or go home. A camp nurse may need to make arrangements to transport children home, get them to hospitals, or to simply watch the child for recovery.

Another aspect of the job for a camp nurse is to oversee the health of those children with chronic medical conditions. Camp nurses usually maintain files on any children with additional health risks, and they may need to perform regular checks to be certain these kids remain healthy. One part of this work can be overseeing regular medication dosage. Many children need one or more medications, and a camp nurse would dispense these as ordered each day so that a child remains medication compliant. Each nurse derives a system for keeping medications safe and separate from those meds that are designated for other kids.

Even a child who is not on regular medications might need the occasional over the counter treatment. With a release from parents, the camp nurse can dispense medicines that can treat minor conditions like headache, bug bite itch or other things. It’s always important for the nurse to decide if the scope of a child’s illness exceeds expertise and requires doctor or parent evaluation.

The camp nurse can also perform other responsibilities including counseling or helping those kids in emotional distress. Not all children relish being away from parents and nurses and camp counselors may work together to help those kids that seem unduly depressed or greatly homesick. Medical evaluation is useful in this context because though many children bounce back from initial feelings of homesickness, others do not, and an expert medical recommendation that a child be reunited with parents can carry additional weight.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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