After breakfast I turned the kids over to child care. They took the kids back to the rooms to get them changed into their bathing suits, covered in sun block and get them all ready for their swimming lessons. Meanwhile, I would go to the health office and see kids who needed their morning meds. I grabbed another cup of coffee to take with me upstairs and I left the dining hall behind a short line of boy campers who were snaking up the back stairwell to the health office.
“S’cuse me. Pardon me.” I apologized as I make my way through the campers to the doorway. There were three boys standing right up against the doorway, blocking my ability to unlock the door.
“GUYS! Move outta the way. The Nurse needs in!” Amy, one of the female counselors, sitting on floor admonished the boys and they quickly backed out of my way.
“You can call me Anne, you guys.” I told them as I balanced my coffee, unlocked the door, and placed my coffee cup on the desk. The three boys followed in right behind me. Like…very close behind me. As in, when I turned around, I squealed cuz I nearly stepped on an eight year old camper!
“Yikes! Sorry there buddy! Ummm, maybe give me one minute to get things organized and I will be right with you.” I said as I shooed the boys out of the room. I pulled out the list of meds for the morning.
There were six boys that needed meds, but there were probably about ten kids out there. I figured I would start with the kids who needed their scheduled meds, get rid of them and then concentrate on ‘the others’ and find out what they needed. I quickly set to work pulling the medications from the cupboard one by one and placing them in little medication cups. As I pulled them out, I called their name, they came in, filled a dixie cup with water, took their med, and went on their merry way. I finished up the six boys pretty quickly but decided that maybe tomorrow I would get in here earlier to get things organized ahead of time to streamline the process a little better.
I stepped out into the hallway to survey the situation. Four campers left. They were all sitting on the floor waiting with Amy, three of them were discussing who the hottest female counselor was. Amy rolled her eyes at me. I smiled and winked back. The fourth camper, a little scrawny guy, sat a few feet away, by himself, not participating in the conversation at all.
“OK you guys. What can I do for you today?” I asked crossing my arms and leaning up against the doorway.
“Me first! Me first!” Said one camper about ten years old. He jumped to his feet and barreled into the room. The other two followed behind him and watched from the doorway. So much for patient privacy, I thought!
“So, what’s your name and what hut are you from?” I asked as he came in and sat in one of the plastic chairs. “I’m Mac.” He responded as he rolled up his pajama bottoms. “I’m in the Cord hut.”
“So what’s going, ohhhhh…” I stopped mid-sentence as I looked at his exposed legs. He had about forty mosquito bites on his legs and ankles! And it looked like they had been plenty itchy all night cuz they were raw from scratching! He had small polka dots of blood on his pajama pants too.
“Duuuuuuude!” One of his buddies at the doorway said with great awe.
“Oh man, Mac! What the heck did you do to your legs? They look soooooo gross!” And, indeed, they did.
“Shut up guys!” Rob responded defensively. “I got like a million mosquito bites last night when we were out doing the camp tour. I guess I scratched them all night in my sleep.” He said as he gave them another scratch.
I watched him do this and noticed his filthy fingernails. That was gonna be great. Tomorrow all these mosquito bites would be infected, guaranteed! I gave him an antihistamine to stop the itching, we cleaned off his legs with lots of soap and water, used some antibiotic ointment for the bad looking ones, and I instructed him to wash his hands thoroughly. I also gave him some bug spray and calamine lotion to take back to the hut.
“OK, who’s next?”
“Oh that will be me.” John introduced himself as he took a seat. He showed me an open blister on his toe that he got from the new sandals he was wearing. We gave it a quick wash out and I provided him with some cartoon band aids to prevent the sandals from rubbing.
“And you?” I nodded towards the third camper. He shook his head.
“I was just here with these guys.” He explained. Oh, moral support! Turns out that happens a lot. “But can I play with this thing?” He gestured towards the otoscope.
“Ahhh, no!” I shook my head. “Off you go guys!” I shooed them out of the office.
The three campers left chatting animatedly. I looked out into the hallway and saw the final camper remaining, head down, staring at the floor.
“And you?” I asked him. “Is there something I can do for you, young man?” I asked gently. He looked up at me and nodded as he got up to come into the office. He started to close the door but Amy stuck her foot in the door before he had an opportunity to close it.
“Hey buddy! You can’t be in here alone with the nurse. It’s called social safety.” Amy explained to him.
Huh? What the heck is social safety?
“But this is PRIVATE!” the camper whined.
“Sorry buddy. You can never be alone in a room with just one staff member or a counselor. Besides, I won’t tell anybody anything.” Amy made like she was zipping her lips closed, pushed her way in, and sat on the examination table, legs swinging off the side.
Well…that makes good sense, I thought. Good protection for both of us.
“So what’s your name?” I asked as I tried to refocus the camper.
He gave a sideways glance at Amy and then sat on the chair, looked down at the ground and mumbled something. I looked up at Amy to see if she had caught any of that. She had a blank expression on her face.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t catch that. What is your name?” I said as I bent closer to hear. The boy lifted his head up and the barrage began.
“Blake. My name is Blake and I have a lot of dietary preferences and my Mum and Dad sent a list of all the foods that I do like and all the foods I don’t like and they were told by the camp that the food that I don’t like would not be served to me at camp and last night they served spaghetti which I DON’T like and this morning they served eggs and I DON’T like those either!” At that point Blake stopped to take a breath. My eyebrows shot up. Oh my!
“And so NOW I have had nothing to eat since yesterday at lunch and I have been losing weight all year long and my parents will be very mad that nobody listened to my dietary requests and now I am starving and I am so hungry and I didn’t know that camp was peanut free and mostly what I like is peanut butter and I didn’t even want to come to camp but Mum and Dad thought it would be a good idea and now I am really mad because OBVIOUSLY if I am not going to be able to eat anything at camp it was a really really stupid idea and I think they should be notified that I DO NOT like camp and they should come and get me immediately!” Blake fixed me with a glare.
“Oh, OK, Blake. I see. Well…um…I had no idea about your diet.” I explained. “But you couldn’t eat the salad they served for dinner last night?” He shook his head.
“What about the vegetables?” Amy suggested helpfully. Blake shook his head again.
“Or the buns?” I added. “Or what about the yummy chocolate pudding they had for dessert?”
“I hate all those!” Blake whined.
“And you couldn’t eat one of the cereals they put out for breakfast this morning?”
“No! They were ALL gross!”
“All seven of the cereals were gross?” Amy asked for clarification. Admittedly it would be very hard to not find something appetizing at camp since there were quite a few options.
“Yeeeeeeessss!” Blake rolled his eyes heavenward like she was a dope for even asking.
I paused for a moment. “Blake? Do you have any friends here at camp?” I asked softly.
“NO!” Blake answered.
“You didn’t come up here with any of your friends from school?” Amy asked.
“NO! I only have one friend at school and he is Jewish so OBVIOUSLY he wouldn’t come to a Catholic camp so, NO, I don’t have any friends here!”
“Did you meet any of the campers in the hut yesterday who might be a good new friend for you?” I asked.
“No! All the boys in my hut are stupid.” Blake’s eyes narrowed and he grimaced. I looked over to Amy. We exchanged a knowing glance.
“Well, it’s almost time for your first instruction Blake.” Amy said as looked at her watch and hopped off the examination table, gently taking his arm to lead him out. “Let’s let the Nurse see what she can do and maybe we can come back after lunch, OK?”
Reluctantly Blake started to follow and then stopped.
“Can’t I just talk to my parents because if they knew that I was not eating they would come and get me right away, I know it!” He pleaded.
“No way, Jose! The camp policy is that kids cannot ever use the phone while at camp.” Amy explained while continuing to gently tug on Blake’s arm and leading him down the back stairwell. “Maybe we can stop by the kitchen and find a piece of fruit for you?” I could hear Amy suggesting.
I sat down at the desk and took a sip of my now cold coffee. As I checked through the morning med list I thought about Blake’s situation. It seemed harsh to not let a camper phone home. It also seemed to me that Blake did not want to be at camp at all. So it would be reasonable to just call his parents and have them pick him up. No big deal, right? Wrong.