Camp Doctors: Keeping Kids Healthy Away From Home


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Summer camp conjures up idyllic images of kids enjoying sun-drenched afternoons sailing by the sea or hiking through the green glade of a mountain forest. And for those magical moments of summer fun to come true for young people, camp directors and medical personnel spend hours in preparation and on the job to create a safe and healthy medical environment at camp.

In order to be accredited by the American Camping Association, camps must meet specific criteria that ensures the health and safety of the campers in their charge. Most camps have on-site nursing staff members who are trained and equipped to attend to common minor emergencies, including cuts and bruises, poison ivy, beestings and viral illnesses. Increasingly, many sleepover camps, particularly those with sessions that last two to three weeks or longer, are choosing to have at least one physician on staff during the camping season.

“I really like having the assistance of the medical staff,” says Andrew Bell, a third-generation camp director at Camp Mondamin, a boys’ camp in Zirconia that was founded by Bell’s grandfather in 1922. “Our camp physicians help us develop training for our staff and protocols to help us take the best possible care of our campers. They know their stuff, and that really helps me in my job.”

On-site Doctors and Nurses

Camp Mondamin and its sister camp, Green Cove for girls, share an on-site camp physician who generally comes to camp for one to two weeks in the summer. While camp doctors are not typically paid for their services, they are often able to bring their families to camp and enjoy all of the camp’s activities during their stay.

In addition to the camp physician at Camp Mondamin and Green Cove, two nurses are on-site at each camp for the entire summer. “The nursing staff gives us continuity, and the medical staff gives us additional skills and expertise,” Bell says.

“We’re seeing an increased number of medications prescribed for our campers,” he says. “It’s very beneficial to us to have a doctor who can oversee prescribed medications and be there on-site if prescriptions need to be renewed or new medications need to be prescribed for an infection or other illness.”

Dr. Ed Spence, a pediatric specialist and assistant chairman at Levine Children’s Hospital at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, has worked as a camp doctor at Camp Seafarer, a girls’ camp in Arapahoe, for 13 years.

“Camp doctors actually do a lot off-season,” Spence says. “Some physicians who have been on staff for years work to set up protocols ahead of time for common illnesses and possible injuries so that the emergency procedures are in place before camp begins. We establish guidelines for what the nurses are to do, what physicians do and what procedures are to be followed in case of an emergency.”

Spence says there are so many different activities at Camp Seafarer, from swimming, sailing and motor-boating to horseback riding, they must “anticipate every possible situation so that we are prepared if something happens.”

Camp Seafarer and its brother camp, Camp Sea Gull for boys, each accommodate two or more physicians on-site who stay in cabins for one to two weeks all summer long. Both camps also employ several nurses who live at camp and work in the infirmary during the summer sessions.

Creating a Safer and Healthier Environment

Spence says camp doctors can also be instrumental in working with camp directors and year-round staff on broader issues that create a safer and healthier environment for campers.

“We push for healthier foods and help establish guidelines for counselors so they make sure their campers are drinking enough water, putting on adequate sunscreen and promoting safety in equipment and in activities,” he says.

Spence believes that having an on-site physician at a camp is especially beneficial if a child becomes seriously ill or injured while at camp. “We work very closely with nursing staff, but nurses don’t have the ability to provide certain medical services, so if physicians are at camp, they may be able to diagnose and treat a child, saving the parents the possible expense of a trip to the nearest emergency room.”

He also notes that in camps with longer sessions, gastrointestinal illnesses often occur and sweep through the camp’s population. “A camp physician can help ensure proper procedures are in place to prevent the spread of communicable diseases, and that makes camp a healthier place for everyone,” he says.

Creating a safe and healthy environment at summer camp is an ongoing process that needs constant review and occasional tweaking, Bell says. “Our health and safety measures are always being improved,” he says.

As a camp doctor, Ed Spence concurs with the need for continuing evaluation of health and safety standards. “Every year, our protocols are a little tighter and a little more robust,” he says. “As camp physicians, we are always trying to do a better job taking good care of the campers.”

For more information on health and wellness standards for accredited camps, go to acacamps.org.

Katherine Kopp is a freelance writer and the mother of three daughters. Her husband, Vince, spent several summers working as a camp doctor and thoroughly enjoyed taking care of the kids and fishing in his free time.

For arts resources, browse our Camps Directories and Enrichment Directory, and check your city’s parks and recreational classes for youth. Read our feature, Kids Camp in Carolinas and Virginia Offer Unique Overnight Experiences.

 

 

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November 2017

Step back in time with a 19th-century costumed interpreter and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal. Registration encouraged online. Tickets available at the...

Cost: $5/adult, $3 ages 7-16. Free for ages 6 and younger

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Celebrate the wonderful world of exotic animals and reptiles. Enjoy live specimens, presentations, raffles, vendors and much more. Purchase tickets online.  

Cost: $12 ages 13 and older, $5 ages 5-12.

Where:
N.C. State Fairgrounds, Kerr Scott Building
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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Join Mindful Families of Durham, a Buddhist-inspired spiritual community that supports area parents, caregivers, and their children in the practice of mindfulness and the understanding of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
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Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
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Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Cost: Free and open to the public.

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Downtown Durham
120 Morris St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Durham Arts Council
Telephone: 919-560-2719
Contact Name: Susan Tierney
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Participants develop their naturalist skills and understanding of local nature. Ages 5-8 with parent. Register online.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Cost: $1/person

Where:
Crowder District Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Where:
Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve
2900 Horse Shoe Farm Rd.
Wake Forest, NC
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Search for salamanders, owls and more. Ages 10-13. Register online.

Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Park West Village hosts Winter Wonderland in the District. This year’s event will take place the weekend of November 17th. Take the family to enjoy train rides, magical winter lights, live...

Cost: Free; $5 donation for sledding

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Park West Village
3400 Village Market Place
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Telephone: 919-234-6710
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Gov. James B. Hunt Horse Complex
4601 Trinity Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Cost: Free

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Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Sponsor: St. Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Sarah Rapp
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Cost: Free

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Crowder District Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
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Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Sarah Rapp
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Cost: Free

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Read With Me Book Shop
111 E. Hargett St., $110
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Cost: $6/child

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Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, AL
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1720 Guess Rd., Ste. 90
Durham, NC  27701
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Cost: Free

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Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Sponsor: St. Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
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Cost: $16/child

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2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Jackie Trickel
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Cost: Free

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Read With Me Book Shop
111 E. Hargett St., $110
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Cost: $14-$29

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Meymandi Concert Hall
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Cost: Call for fees

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Little Guru Kids Yoga and Creative Arts
215 Glenwood Avenue, Suite A
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Cost: Free

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Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of Neuse Rd.
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Cost: Free

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Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: Free

Where:
Cary Crossroads
333 Crossroads Blvd
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

More information

Children ages 18 months-4 years and their parents enjoy free creative movement and music classes. The creative movement class focuses on the development of gross motor skills and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Sponsor: St. Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Sarah Rapp
Website »

More information

A wonderfully kid-paced hour featuring music, play and dancing with toddler stars singing on the mic at Cotton's gently amplified & participatory music show. Children delight in...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Pump It Up Raleigh
10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
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Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
Website »

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Read the story by Karma Wilson and make a Thanksgiving-themed craft. All ages. Registration not required.

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, AL
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

See a contemporary re-imagination of Tchaikovky's timeless music. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $35-$55

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

See the classic holiday story brought to life onstage featuring favorite characters Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

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See the classic holiday story brought to life onstage featuring favorite characters Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $35-$55

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Catch this comedy classic on the big screen—as the symphony plays the charming and delightful score by John Williams live. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $14-$29

Where:
Meymandi Concert Hall
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

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Fit & Able Productions presents the Turkey Chase trail festival at Umstead Park. Take part in a 5K, 10K or 20K. After the race, enjoy fruit, brownies and other...

Cost: $25-$45

Where:
Umstead Park
8801 Glenwood Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27617
View map »


Sponsor: Fit and Able Productions
Telephone: 919-673-4689
Contact Name: Travis
Website »

More information

Celebrate what you're thankful for. Play a game and make a pine cone turkey craft. All ages with adult. Drop-in program. Registration not required.

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Toddler Time is a special time for ages 5 and younger to bounce under the supervision of their parents, and without interference from the big kids. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $7-$10

Where:
Sky Zone Durham
1720 Guess Rd., Ste. 90
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Shop more than 20 local vendors offering amazing gifts this holiday season. Enjoy daily raffles with proceeds benefiting local animal rescue Paws in the City. Kids can enjoy crafts...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cary Crossroads
333 Crossroads Blvd
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

More information

The Raleigh Boychoir makes an appearance before its big Christmas concert.

Cost: Free

Where:
Quail Ridge Books
4209-100 Lassiter Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Website »

More information

Kids ages 6 and younger enjoy stories. Take part in an optional arts and crafts session after storytime for $5.

Cost: Free

Where:
Read With Me Book Shop
111 E. Hargett St., $110
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

See the classic holiday story brought to life onstage featuring favorite characters Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $5/adult, $3 ages 7-16. Free for ages 6 and younger

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Leigh Farm Park
370 Leigh Farm Rd.
Durham, NC  27707
View map »


Sponsor: Durham Parks and Recreation
Telephone: 919-560-1116
Contact Name: Natalya Buckel
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More information

See the classic holiday story brought to life onstage featuring favorite characters Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Catch this comedy classic on the big screen—as the symphony plays the charming and delightful score by John Williams live. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $14-$29

Where:
Meymandi Concert Hall
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

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