to Help You Experience Success
Linda Ebner Erceg, RN, MS, PHN
Executive Director, Association of Camp Nurses
Health & Safety Coordinator, Concordia Language Villages
Are you considering work as a camp nurse during the summer? The
opportunity to be outdoors, have a job which compliments a variety
of nursing skills, and work in a child-centered environment is
attractive. This article provides tips to make the camp nursing
experience more rewarding. The most important step is to find a
camp which compliments both your style of nursing and your philosophy
of health care. Just as there are many types clinics, hospitals,
public health and school nursing positions, so too are there many
different camps and camp directors. Residential camps have people
stay overnight; some are short-term (2-3 days) while others last
eight weeks or more. Day camps, like schools, send campers home
every evening. Some camps program for a particular age while others
provide experiences for a broad age range. Programming varies.
Camps may specialize in an area (e.g. horsemanship, trip camping),
offer high adventure programs (e.g. white-water canoeing), or provide
a broad, general program with waterfront activities, archery, crafts,
tenting experiences, and/or various sports. Camps are administered
by different groups. Churches, agencies such as Scouting or the
YMCA/YWCA, and private individuals are involved. The
American Camp Association (ACA), a group which promotes the professional camp
experience, says that there is a camp for everyone. Determine if
the type of camp you are considering is a good fit for you. Realize
that the camp's program, clientele, length of season, staff, and
administrative directives all impact health care delivery.
Also consider why you are interested in camp nursing. The most
successful camp nurse has a genuine interest in being at camp,
enjoys the type of people for whom they provide care, and likes
being part of a team. Be a camp nurse because the opportunity intrigues
Contact the ACA bookstore at 1-800-428-CAMP to order the current
Guide to Accredited Camps for a national listing of ACA accredited
camps. Camp directors need nurses and often have difficulty locating
people who would be interested. Some directors advertise in nursing
publications. Prospective applicants generally discover that their
inquiry is genuinely appreciated.
Once contact has been made but before accepting a position, there
are several things to consider. First, determine if the camp
is ACA accredited. Accreditation is not required in order for a
camp to operate, but it is an excellent indicator of the camp administration's
commitment to quality camp programming. If a camp is not accredited,
be sure to ask why; accreditation could very well be in process.
Ask for a copy of the camp's health care plan. This describes
the health needs of the camp population and defines the camp's
philosophy of health care. Have it and a copy of the job description,
camp brochure and health form sent for review. Camp nurse applicants
usually speak with the camp director. Ask the director to describe
- A typical day in the life of their camp nurse.
- Approximate number of people seen daily at the health center
and for what reasons.
- A description of the type of care the administration wants
the nurse to provide.
- Who supervises the nurse as well as who the camp nurse supervises.
- The relationship of the nurse to other staff members (e.g.
head cook, counselors, waterfront manager).
- Amount of time spent on paperwork and a description of that
work (e.g. insurance forms, health log, worker comp records).
- The camp nurse's role in communicable disease control and
- Salary, housing, time-off, additional benefits (e.g. participation
in a Camp Nurse Workshop, membership in Association of Camp
- Additional healthcare supports (e.g. collaborating physician,
standing orders, clinic/hospital, pharmacy, crisis response
team, dentist, EMS).
- Other information which the director feels is important.
nursing practice can be an empowering and wonderful experience.
It is also work. Over five million children attended camp last
summer and many went without a nurse. Camps need nurses. It is
a practice setting where comfort with autonomy is necessary,
where the working day may not be defined by eight hours, and where
the professional nurse is valued. Camp practice enjoys the zest
of young people and the serenity of campfires, a sunrise over the
lake, and crickets chirping. Consider joining those of us who
are already a part of it. Be a camp nurse.
Looking for a particular
type of camp, one in a particular location, or one with a certain
type of program? Check ACA’s Guide
to Accredited Camps by calling 1-800-428-CAMP or check out Peterson’s
Guide on the Internet.