The meeting after lunch resembled a military operation. Just as Bill had outlined, counselors returned from their weekend away. Suddenly there were 30 counselors and staff in the dining hall greeting each other, taking orders, passing out garbage bags, rakes, mops, buckets, and wash cloths. As quickly as they appeared they all disappeared on their various missions. Sweep out the hut. Clean the campers’ toilets. Mop the dining hall floor. Rake the beach. Wipe down counter tops. 

One group of eight LIT 2 boys (second year leaders in training) was assigned a ‘sweep of the grounds’ starting at the west end of camp. They would be picking up garbage or lost clothing across the entire camp. I thought of the stray underpants. Ewwww.

I took the kids upstairs to get them changed into swim suits and lathered them in sun block. They were going to spend the afternoon at the beach with ‘child care’ while I helped with registration. The third floor was a bee hive of activity as counselors moved into their new room assignments. The heaps of clothing in the hallways was starting to dwindle as counselors folded, tossed and reorganized. Even the ‘eau du feet’ smell seemed to dissipate, if only ever so slightly. Huh. Maybe this place was gonna shape up after all? 

After dropping the kids off with Anita and Sammy. I zipped back to the health station and grabbed a stack of medication forms, some pens, and a small shoe box. I would use the box to collect all the meds from the campers. With pens, box and forms in hand I stepped out onto the deck on the second floor to have a quick peek across the campgrounds. Wow! The place had transformed. The LIT’s were now at the far east end of camp. Their garbage bags full now. Counselors were beginning to emerge from huts, propping the doors open. Someone was sweeping out sand, stray pine needles, and leaves from one hut. I could see that the beach sand had been raked and the toys neatly put away in the waterfront hut. The grounds looked tidy now. 

I go down the stairs past a male counselor mopping the stairs, and then past a female counselor who is quickly sweeping the stairs just ahead of him and I enter the dining hall. All the tables have been wiped down with a bleach solution. Chairs and benches are upturned onto the tables as two teenaged girls are finishing mopping the dining hall floor.  A half dozen counselors set up two of the tables and await the arrival of their campers.

Lydia is the assistant camp director. She is a 23 year old university student. She has been at camp for eight summers. She worked up from a camper, to LIT, to staff and now is finishing up her last year as assistant camp director. She jumps up and introduces herself to me.

“Hi! Welcome to Acorn. Thanks so much for helping us out!” Lydia shakes my hand eagerly.

“Well, thank you.” I smile, nod my head, and plunk down my stash on the table.

“We so appreciate the volunteer nurses. Especially during the 2 week boys session!” Lydia emphasizes the ‘especially’ part with a knowing look.

“Oh.” I say with a blank stare. “And why is that?” I blink and I feel a small knot in the pit of my stomach begin to form.

“Ohhhh, you know how boys are. All rough and tumble.” She says as she is pulling papers out of an accordion file box and begins organizing them into neat little piles.  “Not like the girls where you can plan a fashion show and have them all obediently sit and watch. Nah. The boys are all tearing through the woods at break neck speed playing a game of capture the flag or wrestling each other in their huts. And you know how it is. They get their fair share of scrapes and bruises.” Lydia sits down at the table and waves me over to a seat beside her, indicating where I can set up shop.

“Well! It is a good thing I reviewed my first aid then, right?” I say with a little laugh. Lydia laughs nervously in response and I feel that little knot tighten more as I try not to throw up. Oh geez! This does not sound good?! But I have little time to think about it as the parents have begun to form a line outside the dining hall door.

The next two hours go by very quickly. Parents and campers would visit Lydia and pay their bill, then find out what hut the camper was assigned to. One of the counselors from that hut would introduce themselves to the camper with something like: “Awh ya Johnnie! I’m ______. I’m one of your counselors. So cool to meet you dude! We are gonna have an awesome time this session with you here! I’m so pumped to show you the hut. Wanna come with me?” With that, you could watch as that campers eyes grew with excitement and anticipation. He would eagerly follow as the counselor picked up their luggage and sleeping bag and scurried them off to the hut. Meanwhile the parents filled out forms, paid for laundry service if they wanted it, signed waivers here, here, and here, and then could speak to the camp nurse (me) if they had any questions or concerns.

By the end of it I had spoken to about two dozen parents regarding various health issues. Mrs. Williams had dropped off two sons, and a gallon zip lock bag full of eight different herbal medicines with explicit instructions on how and when to take them. My little shoe box, meant to carry all the camper medications, was now full of the Williams’ echinacea, chamomile, feverfew, licorice, and four other herbal remedies I could not pronounce and had never heard of (pretty sure none of these would be in my PDR). For all I know I had a bag of cannabis in there!? Good thing they would be locked up in the health center. 

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During the registration I managed to pick up five epinephrine pens for peanut or bee sting allergies (please God don’t make me have to use ’em?!), several bottles of acetaminophen (for ‘just in case’), lots of cough medicines, multivitamins, antihistamines, pepto bismol (“Ralphie got the squirts at camp last year! It was so bad that we threw his sleeping bag out!”), Metamucil (“Taylor told me he refused to poop for the whole two week session last year. I don’t want a repeat of that!”), various lotions and potions for bug bites, seizure meds, antidepressants, and antibiotics. I wrote the campers names on each of these items and documented the medication schedule on the medication administration record — one for each camper requiring scheduled meds. By the end of it I had managed to accumulate so many medications that Shawn, who came through on his way to begin dinner prep noticed, and brought me a refrigerator drawer. I filled it with all the medications! Needless to say, it was a bit unsettling.

As I humped the drawer up the stairs to the health center I looked down into the array of medicine bottles. My eyes glazed over as I considered that I needed to organize them all and then prepare to perform 80 camper physicals! And what was with the comment Lydia made about the boys session being so demanding? I take a deep breath and try to settle myself down. I mean for Pete’s sakes, I have worked years in the intensive care trauma unit in the big city hospital. It can’t be as bad as looking after victims of car accidents, can it? Except I think about the spinal board in the health office and the fact that we are 45 minutes away from the nearest hospital and the knot tightens another notch.

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