Camp Nurse FAQs

Each camp is different! Camps vary in length from 1 – 7 weeks and generally accept campers aged 6 and up. There is a camp to suit everyone. Some nurses bring their kids to camp, so you might be looking for a camp that’s a great fit for you and your child. You might be coming to camp just for yourself. Either way, this FAQ will offer insight about working at a camp and will help you ask the right questions to ensure that camps you’re interested in working with will be a great fit.

About Camp Nursing

How is a camp health center staffed?

The core of camp Health Center staff is generally a team of nurses who work at camp for the full summer. Physicians usually staff camps for 1-2 weeks at a time. There may also be EMTs, nursing students and/or a health center administrator.

What are the general responsibilities of a camp nurse?

Camp nursing is a hybrid of many of types of nursing. You will cover:

  • General Triage: Camp nurses are the backbone of all camp triage. Campers and staff will walk into the Health Center all through the day with minor complaints and injuries.  Camp nurses are the first providers to see and triage these issues. Much of the time, you will be able to provide first aid or reassurance and send patients on their way. Sometimes you will ask that the camper or staff return to see the doctor at Sick Call. Sometimes you will call the doctor to see the patient at the Health Center immediately.
  • Sick Call: Most camps have Sick Calls twice a day where the campers and staff are seen by the doctor. They generally occur after breakfast, after lunch, or after dinner. You will help the doctor see the patients.
  • Medication Administration: Many campers are sent to camp on medications. These medications will range from asthma inhalers to ADHD medications to growth hormone and allergy shots. You will be administering these medications as per the camp’s policies and protocols.  Many camps have adopted pre-packaged medication delivery programs to make dispensing meds safer and more efficient.
  • Sick Campers and Staff: Throughout the summer campers and staff will be sick enough to stay in the Health Center. Taking care of an “inpatient” is a cross between floor nursing and parenthood. You may be responsible to check vital signs or administer medication while the patient is in the Health Center. Sometimes you just have to let them know you are there if they need someone.
    • Campers and staff may be “admitted” to the Health Center for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to:
      • Fever
      • Vomiting
      • Concussion
      • Fracture care
      • Dehydration
  • Community Responsibilities: The camp nurse is part of the 24/7 team responding to issues at the camp.  There will be issues that arise over a summer, like tick checks and lice follow up, which fall to the Health Center staff to oversee. These issues are generally few and far between.

What is the daily schedule like?

Camp Health Centers are open 24/7, but the work is very predictable. The day starts with medication administration, followed by Sick Call, which usually results in a few parent phone calls or clinical follow-ups. There is often a significant amount of downtime until the routine repeats around dinner.

Your personal schedule will vary based upon your responsibilities for the day.  Some camp jobs (ex. medication administration) are concentrated around breakfast and dinner and others (covering Health Center triage) may be more fluid.  Health Center directors generally aim to give their staff meaningful time off during the day in addition to their weekly day off.

The most important factor in a successful camp experience (especially as it relates to the schedule) is excellent communication between the nursing staff and the person making the schedule.

How often to do you get woken up in the middle of the night?

This depends on the camp. Many camps assign one nurse to work at night so that nurse will be the one woken up if there is an issue. Some camps will hire a nurse to cover the nights exclusively. If you prefer to work nights, make sure you mention that at the beginning of discussions with your camp.

How often do you send kids to the off of camp or to the hospital?

Camp is a low-resource setting and you will frequently send children off camp for imaging or consultations. If you have a doctor on site, they will usually make the decision to send a camper off camp but your director will always back you up if you think there is an issue that must be addressed.

What are the best qualities of a great camp nurse?

Nurses from every area of medicine have worked as camp nurses. The best camp nurses are team-players who want to take great care of campers and staff.

Can I work in a state that I don’t have a nursing license?

States administer temporary nursing licenses for nurses working for a short period of time. Your camp should assist you in obtaining this temporary license.

How is a camp nurse insured?

Camp nurses are covered under the camp’s general liability insurance. You should speak to your camp about any specific insurance questions you might have.

About Being at Camp

What will I do when I am not at the health center?

You can usually walk around the camp, watch activities, and use the camp facilities. This might include playing tennis or using the lakefront.

Can I watch the kids’ activities (including my own)?

Yes. Walking around camp is one of the best parts about camp nursing. If you have children at the camp, you can usually see some of your children’s activities but it is very important not to disturb the normal flow of the day.

How much time will I get off?

Camp nurses generally get one day a week off and have downtime throughout the day based upon the coverage of the Health Center.

What kind of accommodations will I have?

Most nurses stay in a staff quarters, frequently in the health center. The rooms may have air conditioning and a private bathroom.

What is the compensation?

Compensation for camp nurses is around $1000 per week, plus room and board on site.  Some camps will offer more and some less, it is entirely dependent on the camp.  Camps will also give credit for camp tuition instead of salary, which often works out to more than the weekly stipend.

The Bottom Line

Camp is a great experience. You will definitely have fun. Remember it can be busy and you will work hard. Camp is not a total vacation but it should more fun than your day job. The kids are great and everyone is appreciative.