camp nurse

The Camp Nurse – A Vital Part of the Camping Experience
While no one really talks about the neat nurse they met at camp, most children have at least one interaction with the nursing staff at camp. The nurse in charge is often the one to help soothe a homesick child, follow the physician’s protocols for treating bug bites, upset stomachs or sunburns. The camp nurse is responsible for helping create a memorable and healthy experience for every child and adult at camp.

Camp Nurse Job Description & Scope of Practice

Camp nurses may typically be employed in either seasonal camps, normally summer camps or in year round specialty camp settings.  The camp nurse will usually meet with the director, learn the health issues and objectives of the camp and reside at the camp on call anywhere from 3 days to year round, depending upon the setting and type of camp. The nurse at camp is given a great deal of autonomy and has a set of physician ordered protocols to follow for most emergency situations. Camp nurses in healthy children camps may treat bug bites, asthma attacks, upset stomachs and help soothe a homesick child. Camp nurses must also be able to triage patients and follow established protocols as to when a physician should be called, or a child sent home due to the possibility of infection such as measles or mumps. The camp nurse will also hold a daily sick call in many camps where children who are not feeling well can be examined.  Camp nurses dispense medications and accompany children to doctor’s appointments when necessary.

How to Become a Camp Nurse

A camp nurse is required to hold at least a diploma in nursing such as a Licensed Vocational Nursing Diploma or Licensed Practical Nurse diploma. Camps with medically fragile or special needs children may require a Registered Nurse with an associate degree or a 4 year R.N.  The primary skill required for the camp nurse is a love of children and an enjoyment of the outdoors. Most camp nurses reside on site for the duration of the camp and are usually on call during that period.  There are a limited number of large camps which accept nursing students during the summer. However, most nursing students are discouraged by their advisors from taking jobs in order to focus upon their studies.

Camp Nurse Educational Requirements, Certifications and Schooling Programs

  • Must hold a state license as an LPN, LVN or R.N.
  • Must be available for duration of the camp (this varies according to the type of camp).
  • Must have experience working with children most children’s camps prefer pediatric experience.
  • Special needs camp nurses may require a Bachelor of Science R.N. with pediatric experience.
  • The Association of Camp Nurses (ACN) seeks to educate camp nurses by hosting symposiums, lectures and seminars several times throughout the year. Currently, the ACN does not offer certification. However, those who wish to become certified may do so through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) in other nursing fields applicable to camp nursing such as emergency nursing.

Camp Nurse Salary, Jobs and Career Outlook

The camp nurse may be a seasonal job for the school nurse or a year round career choice for some nurses. The need for camp nurses grows apace with the need for qualified nurses throughout the country with a projected job growth of 21 to 35% over the next 8 years.

Camp nurses for seasonal camps may earn only $500 a week if the organization is non-profit. This figure includes room and board. Other camp nurse opportunities pay as much as $5,000 a week plus room and board, depending upon the camp setting and the type of education required of the nurse. A camp nurse job is often a springboard for the nurse into pediatrics, urgent care or specialty nursing, while enjoying the outdoors and of course the company of children.