And so begins another day

We got down to breakfast well before anyone else. Except for Father Brian. He was showered, shaved and sitting at the director’s table with a steaming cup of coffee and a newspaper!

Now, getting a newspaper is no easy task. Up in cottage country there is no such thing as front door delivery. To get the paper you need to pick it up from the newspaper box at the end of the road….which is a 2.5 miles from the camp. So that is either an hour’s run or an 8 minute drive out along the hilly, hairpin-turn, gravel road to the little highway. And right there, by the recycling station, is a line up of newspaper boxes. Ta da! 

So here was Father Brian, already reading the paper, having gotten up, showered, driven out to the end of the road and back, brewed a pot of coffee and chilling at the table. I was impressed.

Father Brian’s immaculateness was a stark contrast to myself and my little family. We were narsty. We all had bed head and we all had evidence of permadirt. All of our clothes had been worn at least twice as evidenced by the look and smell of them. I felt a tinge of embarrassment. I made a mental note to find out about the possibility of doing some laundry.

I took advantage of the moments of quiet to talk to Father Brian. I needed to know what to do about seeing a doctor today. I had a few kids that might need to do so.

“Well…you will need to call Dr. Holmes.” Brian said as he folded up his paper. “He works in the ER in town. If he is working he will usually meet the kids there and see them in the ER. If he isn’t working, he might rendezvous with you there at convenient time. Sometimes he just settles things over the phone and there is no need for a trip into town. So, give him a call. His numbers are listed up in the Health office.”

“How big of a deal is it to go into town if we need to?”

“Oh, it is kind of a big deal. It requires a camp vehicle and two staff members for ‘social safety’. So that means with two staff gone that the counselors and staff have to juggle to cover for the hours that it will take to get there, be seen in the ER, and return. But, as it turns out, we need to send the van into town to pick up some supplies from Canadian Tire so we can coordinate with them. Hopefully we can arrange some sort of appointment with Jim and we can have him see the campers while we are in town.”

I thought about who needed to see a doctor. Ruptured ear drum? Probably. Possible fractured forearm? Yes. He might need an x-ray. Then there was the finger from sock wrestling and the ankle from capture the flag. I would have to make my rounds this morning and reassess all the injuries. I didn’t want to inconvenience the whole camp by taking a van into town and then forget someone! I would feel terrible. On the other hand, I didn’t want to send in a dozen campers needlessly either. But, I had to consider CYB.

CYB, or cover your butt, is a common concept in the health care field. It is a practice that serves to protect one from legal punishment or criticism. With our overly litigious society, it was always in the back of my mind as I practiced nursing. Of course, I was trying to be thoughtful and trying to do the best that I could do with no previous ‘first responder’ or camp experience. There, admittedly, was plenty I didn’t know. I recognized that. My experience in the ICU had taught me that when I blew something off, or got too cocky, that is when I made an error. I always tried to remember that, but I also had to consider the environment. Were there distractions at camp? Ummm, yeeeessss, just a few. Like 80 of them, plus my own kids, plus the staff. 

My thoughts were interrupted by the sounds of campers lining up outside the dining hall. It was time for another clean hands check. I looked around the dining hall as staff had started to trickle in. I saw Lydia, Angus, and Ben sipping on coffee at the head staff table. My son followed me as I walked over and slid in beside Ben on the bench.

“Any chance you three would be interested in doing some clean hands inspections with me today?” I batted my eyelashes for added effect.

Lydia slapped her hands on top of the wooden table and pushed herself up.

“Absolutely! Come on guys. Let’s do this!”

Ben abruptly stood up, gave a whoop, and pumped his fist in the air. Angus did the same. Their energy and passion was impressive! My son and I followed the two out the dining hall doors. Ben took over.

“Good morning Camp Acoooooorn,” Ben bellowed. “Show us your sparkling clean hands! Who’s gonna get cake? Wooooooo!”

The campers cheered in response and started to examine their hands and fingernails. Lydia, Angus, Ben and myself started down the lines of campers. My son followed along behind me. The boys held out their hands, flipping them over so I could assess both sides. I nodded and ‘uh huh’ed’ as I went, keeping a tally. My son, following in my wake, did the same as the campers held out their hand for him to inspect too. As I walked down the line, I noticed that there seemed to be an improvement. Some of the boys’ hands were still drippy wet from having actually washed them! Now, they still were not perfect, but there was progress. Definite progress.

The other thing I noticed as I ambled down the line was that when it came to dirty, smelly clothes, I was in good company. Actually, relatively speaking, my kids and I looked pretty good compared to some of these campers. One camper in particular looked really revolting. He was wearing a Michael Jackson t-shirt that was, frankly, encrusted. I remembered that t-shirt on the first night of camp when I was doing the marathon of camp physicals. I wondered what the possibility was that he had never changed his shirt since he arrived? I would have to find out. 

When I had completed my inspection I returned to the staff dining table. Ben and Lydia were back, sipping their coffees. 

“Well. How did we do this time?” 

The Deer hut had seven, Cord hut had nine, Rock hut had twelve, and the Bear hut had fifteen. We were making a difference…



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