Day one. Noon meds.

Morning instructions were over and the bell rang. I pulled the three kids out of the lake so we could get ready for lunch. By this point all three of them had prune-like fingers and toes, were shivering and waterlogged but very happy. We trudged up the hill and then up the three sets of stairs to our rooms. I had to pick up my son since this was a too long of a haul for his little legs. But UGH! My legs were burning, so were my lungs, and I was a wee bit sweaty by the time we got to the rooms. Dude…I was gonna be rock solid by the end of the two week session!

The kids got changed and I hung their sandy and soggy bathing suits and towels up to dry on the hooks on the wall. A small puddle of lake water and sand developed underneath. Ewww! I tossed another towel underneath so we wouldn’t completely soak the carpeting. I would have to take care of that later.

Lunch was sandwich fixings. They had rolls, lettuce, tomatoes, and slices of cheese. I noticed that not all the plates had serving forks. Hmmm. That struck me as kinda gross. I took a quick peek my daughters’ fingernails as I delicately picked up a cheese slice to put on my son’s sandwich. They were only slightly revolting since they had been in the lake most of the morning. Mental note: scrub the kids’ hands before meals. I looked over my shoulder to see what was happening at the campers’ tables. Samesies. The other disturbing factor was that even from where I sat I could see that most of the boys who had their fingers in the lettuce, or were picking up a slice of roast beef, had totally grody fingernails. Again: Ewwww! How could I approach this? I figured I would bend Bill’s ear later.

Dessert was jello. All the kids went wild for the jello. Go figure. I don’t think I will ever understand the attraction to jello. I mean, what the heck?! It’s fun, I guess. But it is basically rubberized juice, is it not? I never really got it as a kid either, and then of course feeding countless demented patients jello for my summer student nursing jobs did not help. I kinda feel the same about scrambled eggs now too, for the same reason. 

The after lunch crowd in front of the health station was pretty small. There were only four campers who were waiting for me when I arrived after ditching my kids with child care. I had the two campers who needed scheduled meds so they were quick since I had their meds out and ready to go (Yeah for me! I planned to get things set up ahead of time from now on). I had one kid with a mangled toe that he had managed to split open which required a good saline salt soaking in the foot bath and then attempting to cover it up so it would not get infected. And then…there was Blake. I set the ‘foot camper’ up in the hall while I directed Blake to have seat in the health office.

I gently placed the mangled toe in the tepid salty water, stood up, took a deep cleansing breath and turned to enter the office. But first, I wiggled my finger at Amy who nodded and followed me in.

“So Blake! How did lunch go?” I said as I took a seat in my chair as Amy hopped onto the examination table.

“Well how do you think it went? I mean you saw what they served for lunch, didn’t you? It was total crap.” He said as tears began to well up in his eyes.

“You didn’t eat anything for lunch?” I asked looking at Blake and back at Amy. They both shook their heads. “Not even the jello?” I asked, but really as soon as I said it I wondered if jello had any nutritional value.

“Are you serious? Jello? I don’t think jello can even be classified as a food substance!” Blake responded, all wild eyed and belligerent

“Did you at least drink something?” Now I was getting a little concerned.

“Yes. I drank the water but even it is gross. It smells bad.”

“It does?” Amy asked looking a little confused.

“Ya. I smells like farts but I figured I should at least keep hydrated!” The rampage continued as I considered the farty water.

“And so NOW I have had barely anything to eat for a full 24 hours and I already told you that I have been losing weight all year and my parents will be very mad at you all because now I am starving and I am so hungry and I do NOT like camp and I didn’t like any of my instructions and I hate the other campers and the counselors suck and I would like to phone my parents at least and explain the gravity of the situation to them!” One tear trickled down his cheek as he sniffed.

Whoa! I was waaaay in over my head. I had dealt with intensive care patients who required ventilators to breathe, and I.V. infusions to maintain a blood pressure, and feeding tubes to provide nutrition, and drains in their skulls to allow cerebral spinal fluid out, and multiple blood transfusions, and massive trauma wounds and dressings…but this? This? Here was a very bright ten year old boy with, obviously, some kinda psyche history that his parents had neglected (?on purpose?) to inform us of on his medical form. Here I was, an adult ICU nurse attempting to deal with this. It was so unfair to this child, and the camp, and the counselors, and me! And I mean, God bless the parents, cuz they probably were either not admitting that the child had a problem or were hoping and praying that maybe, just maybe, Blake would fall in love with the camp experience and come home full of hilarious memories and stories of crazy camp antics. But that was not gonna happen. This dude was dead set against being at camp. No way, no how was this kid gonna have one iota of fun. Uncle!

“OK Blake.” I said I took another deep breath and I stood up. “I am going to see what I can do.”

“Can I call my parents?” He asked quickly looking up at me with a glimmer of excitement in his eyes. 

“I don’t know Blake. I am not the boss around here. I will ask the director though.”

“Yessssss!” Blake pumped his fist in the air and walked out of the office with a skip in his step.



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