What it Means to be a Camp Nurse

Camp Pinnacle11 Apr, 2022

This blog comes to us from Nurse Anne. Originally from Wales, Anne has lived in the US since 1988. Anne has worn many hats, enrolling in nursing school in 1993 and gravitating immediately towards pediatrics. Anne is a certified pediatric registered nurse with 29 years of practice experience, and three of those were in Africa helping to promote professional nursing education! Now Anne is a school nurse at a K-8 public charter school and a beloved camp nurse.

nurse and coffee

Hello, this is Nurse Anne, and I’ve had the privilege of being a nurse at Camp Pinnacle for the past three years. It all began when my daughter asked if I would be interested in being a camp nurse in exchange for my grandson, Tryfan, attending camp. Hmm, I thought…..two weeks in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina seems like something worth exploring! Idid, and I loved it. This past summer Tryfan and I both earned our third-year Camp Pinnacle paddles!

Although I have been a nurse for more than 25 years, camp nursing has added a whole new dimension to my career. My “typical” day at camp is filled with minor issues like bug bites, rashes, and scrapes and splinters. Easy fixes most of the time! Much of what we dispense is good ol’ TLC – giving hugs and lending a listening ear. Many of the children are repeat campers and are comfortable being away from home. They start camp by saying, “Bye, parents! See you in two weeks, and not a minute sooner!”

For others, it is the first time away from parents and home, and that sometimes can be challenging for them. Camp nurses need to be able to figure out if that upset stomach is about not drinking enough water, or if they are feeling homesick or anxious. It takes listening, hearing, and understanding, and allowing space for some tears.  Do they need a pepto bismol, or do they need someone to hear their story and  assure them that they are surrounded with love and that they are safe?  “You can do this” and “you are making memories and new friends to share with your family” are encouraging phrases I use a lot.

nurse and grandosonEverything we nurses do daily at the health center builds on CP’s five core principles – taking reasonable risks, reaching out, taking responsibility, showing respect, and being resilient. We are able to tend to the physical and emotional needs of every individual camper and help them develop their best selves. Camp Pinnacle has allowed me to develop relationships with the campers, the counselors, and all the other adults who care about helping our next generations to be strong, insightful, caring and compassionate. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to be part of that mission. 

This past year at camp, I was the one needing some medical attention and TLC. Yes, even the nurses need nursing sometimes. I broke my wrist walking up to the dining hall, although generally I made up a much more treacherous story to explain the injury. The CP family, campers and staff, were all there for me. Everyday was an outpouring of love and concern. And the get well cards and wishes were what kept me there at camp through those difficult days. 

Some days I get to do more than just clean wounds and dispense bandaids. I get to climb walls, balance the ropes course, or fall off the paddle board alongside the campers. We laugh with each other, and cry together when it is time to leave and say, “see you next summer!” Coming back, seeing each other again, and catching up brings a lot of joy and excitement. Camp Pinnacle makes our families bigger, and we keep coming back to make more memories. 2022 here I come!


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