After completing our masterpieces and leaving them out to dry, we left arts ‘n crafts and wandered out to the yaking (short for kayaking) dock. It was deserted that afternoon so we had the rocky shoreline and dock to ourselves.
Amazingly the kids spent an hour here. They threw rocks in the lake. They threw rocks at each other. They threw pine cones in the lake and then watched as they drifted back in on the waves and threw them out again. They threw pine cones at each other. They examined every rock pool. They built tiny inukshuks. They splashed water at each other. They looked for fish. They threw rocks at fish (pretty much ineffective). They threw pine cones at the fish (also ineffective). I was in awe! No playground, no toys, no agenda. The kids were having a blast.
It wasn’t long until the dinner bell rang. We enjoyed another fabulous meal of ham, scalloped potatoes, and cauliflower. Dessert was butterscotch pudding. The dining hall, as always, was a buzz of activity. I scanned the room and noted Blake with his elbows on the table and his head in his hands, untouched food on his plate. I shook my head. Brian caught my look and nodded.
“He’s going home tomorrow.” Brian said.
“You’re kidding?” I asked, shocked. “I thought it was the rare situation that any kid went home!”
“Ya, well, I spent 45 minutes talking to his Dad who shared with me the extent of Blake’s psychiatric history.”
“What?! I didn’t see anything on his profile!”
“It wasn’t on his profile. His parents didn’t want us to know about it. They thought we would treat him differently.”
I shook my head again. So unfortunate. Psychiatric illness has so much stigma. I was not really sure how to feel about the whole situation. Not sure I could blame the parents, and yet it was alarming that they would withhold this information.
“I haven’t told him yet. I will meet with him after dinner and let him know to pack his things up. His mom will pick him up after breakfast tomorrow.” Brian shrugged. “Camp is not for everyone.”
I left the kids with child care and grabbed a cup of tea as dessert wrapped up. I still needed to get the meds organized before the onslaught. After dinner meds was not too bad so I took the opportunity to put out the “before bedtime” meds too.
The group that stomped up the steps was small. Five campers arrived. Blake was not in the group. Three campers came to get meds and two had nausea — both from the Deer hut.
Neither of the nauseated campers had fevers, both had limited their intake at dinner but had been drinking well all day.
“Have ya barfed?” I asked Kevin. He shook his head, rubbing his belly.
“Do you have the squirts?” I whispered. His eyes got big and his head snapped back.
“Nooooo.” He answered with a smile on his face.
“When was the last time ya pooped?”
“Ummm….back at home. I was hoping not to have to go at camp.” He whispered back to me blushing a little.
Two weeks at camp without going? I didn’t think that sounded too good. We discussed this. We also discussed some basic hand hygiene as I noted his filthy fingernails. I explained that he needed to wash his hands before every meal.
His buddy, Mike, felt pretty close to barfing, so he went to the infirmary. I discussed hand hygiene with him too, as his fingernails were also filthy.
With Mike tucked away and his counselors aware of his location (I didn’t need another lost camper fiasco) I ran upstairs to get the kids ready for bed. I was delighted to find that child care already had them in their jammies and they were ready for bed! I guess all that outdoor air had really exhausted them. I tucked them in and then quietly folded clothes, made a pile for laundry and tidied up as they drifted off. I had about an hour until bedtime meds but figured, now that the kids were fast asleep, I could go back down to the infirmary and tie up loose ends.
I checked in on Mike. He was sleeping, so I quietly backed out and went to the health office. I spent my time tidying the shelves, I mopped the floor, I caught up on documentation and I pulled out my joke book in an effort to find a good joke to put up on the white board. As I was doing so, Ben, a senior staff member poked his head in and took a big sniff. His room was right across the hall from the office.
“Whoa! This place smells like a hospital! Check it out Angus!”
Angus poked his head out of his room and came over to have a whiff of the health office.
“You’re not kidding!” He said, eyes bright.
“Well thanks. I guess? Just trying to keep the germs down to a minimum!” I said, taking a break and surveying the drying floor.
“Very nice!” Ben approved.
“Yes, very nice!” Angus boomed. “The battle against germs is never ending at camp!” He said, rather animatedly.
“No joke! I just saw two Cord hut campers with the filthiest fingernails I have ever seen! I was thinking of maybe seeing how many of the kids actually wash their hands before dinner. Do you think any of the campers do?”
“Probably….none of them.” Angus answered nodding his head.
“Washing hands? What is the big deal about washing hands anyways? ” Ben asked.
Angus sharply turned his head towards Ben. “Are you being serious right now?” He asked him. I suppressed a giggle.
“Well ya.” Ben threw his hands up. “Why are people always going on and on about hand washing. I want to know.”
Did I mention that Ben was an engineering student? Lets just say that I explained to Ben, in no uncertain terms, the importance of hand hygiene particularly after visiting the restroom. The scenario also brought to light the importance of serving spoons at the dining tables instead of having campers reach into a bowl with the aforementioned filthy fingernails that likely contained more than visible dirt but many tiny invisible beings also. Angus was quite helpful in providing a real life case study that involved a friend who happened to pick up a tape worm that was likely related to…you guessed it…poor hand hygiene.
The conversation was quite lively, as you can imagine. Ben and Angus ended up sitting on the examination table swinging their feet and chatting with me for over an hour as the campers came and went getting their bedtime meds and Mike got lead back to the Cord hut for the night. These two young men, both very intelligent and with great senses of humor, were a treat to talk to. I felt like I had two new friends. Finally, I had to call it quits.
“OK guys. I give up. I have gotta go to bed!” I said as I got up from the office chair.
“Well we will gladly be on our way if you could just give us each some of those narcotics you have up there.” Angus said as he made toward the locked cupboard.
“What?! We have narcotics at camp!” Ben said, startled. “Seriously, we do?”
“Night guys!” I said as I shooed them out of the office.
Angus smacked Ben in the head as they left. “Of course they have narcotics in the nurse’s office!”
“Night Nurse!” They each called back to me.
“Oh PLEASE call me Anne!” I begged as I locked up the office.
Angus turned as he was closing his door.
“Anne it is then! Good night.” He saluted me.