CONFESSIONS OF A CAMP NURSE
There is a very special place here on this little sandbar known as Cape Cod. A place known as Camp Wingate*Kirkland (or Camp W*K). But it’s not the location that makes this place so special; although I can’t complain about the beautiful wooded location and the “office view” of Elisha’s Pond. You see what makes this place so magical is an exclusive recipe of campers, staff, and culture. I had no idea what I was getting myself into last year when I agreed to come on staff as a nurse in the health center. Let’s just say I was counting the days to the beginning of my 2nd summer here.
So in no particular favorite confessional order here is what being a nurse at Camp W*K is like:
1.) There is SO much FUN. Kids are fun. Camp activities are fun. Put them together and then add a bunch of “big kids” AKA counselors and voila! As a nurse my primary responsibility is maintaining the health and well being of everyone, but I will confess that I have played a few rounds of four-square and hopped into games of tag. I get to make kindness rocks and introduce the campers to The Kindness Rocks Project. Oh and then there are the many impromptu moments of singing and dancing (those are my favorite!)
2.) We eat good food. The food rocks. Chef T rocks. The fresh pico de gallo rocks. End of story.
3.) The culture is all inclusive. Everyone is welcome here. Everyone is supported, respected, and empowered to be themselves; to be as weird, wacky, and authentic as you want. And everyone is expected to be “all in.” It’s such a cool environment to be a part of.
4.) You get to watch kids grow. Now I’ve only been here for 2 summers but to already bear witness to the growth of campers and counselors alike is a real privilege. To see the campers trying new things and finding confidence is really awesome.
5.) It is not always easy. Before coming to camp I worked for New England Organ Bank. I took care of very, very sick people who unfortunately had something tragic happen to them. It was a hard job. But I will tell you this – camp nursing is not always just handing out bandaids. It is giving meds to 30 + campers and taking care of 4 sore throats all at the same time. It is navigating behavior to get to the root of the problem. It is using Google translator when a Japanese camper is ill. It is pink eye, ear infections, broken braces, scrapes, sprains & strains, strep throat, homesickness, depression & anxiety, ingrown toenails, fatigue, headache, menstrual cramps, athletes foot, ticks, tooth fairy, upper respiratory infection, bug bites, and vomit all summer long and all at the same time! It is busy and tiring. Regardless, I can now say I have cared for the sickest people on this earth as well as the most healthiest and both jobs are hard in their own ways.
6.) You make awesome friends from all over the world (and from your own backyard!). I have met some of the most fun, like minded people here. To be connected with people from around the globe and across the pond is so special. The creation of these relationships is priceless.
7.) A pig and a puppy. When there’s a camp pig (“Z”) and a camp puppy (“Fozzie”) what’s NOT to love?! And there are also 2 other amazing dogs (Eddie & North) here.
8.) I don’t like it. “It” meaning when the overnight campers leave. They are the pulse of this place. As I sit here and write it is eerily quiet. Yes there is the distant laughter of the day campers that are here until next week, but you can feel the void. Camp feels empty without you all.
The tears have been shed; the good-bye hugs given; but the memories will last forever…
To all the campers who I miss already, thank you for all you have given to me. And to my friends Sandy + Will … thanks for another great summer and here’s to 2018!