Camp nurses in training

I scurried down the stairs and burst out of the main building in time to watch another round of ‘Duck-duck-goose’. I quietly walked over to the nearby picnic table and sat down on the corner of the bench beside a group of five campers who were playing cards. They warmly greeted me and then returned to their game. I continued to observe the ‘Duck-duck-goose’ game but kept one eye on the card game. It seemed pretty fast paced and there was a lot of hand slapping, some of which seemed rather brutal. This, of course, was followed by much yelling, flailing, and laughter. After the third hand slap, I couldn’t resist anymore. I had to know what they were doing.

“What are you guys playing?” I turned on the bench and tucked my feet under the picnic table. I rested my chin on my hand so I could observe. 

“It’s Egyptian Ratscrew!” Greg, a Rock hut camper, piped up.

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“That sounds terrible! What kinda name is that for a game?” I screwed up my face and Greg shrugged his shoulders as he shuffled the deck for the next round. I had never heard of this game, and I had played plenty of card games in my childhood. I spent many a lazy summer evening inside my grandparents cottage, hiding from the ravenous mosquitoes outside, and playing intense games of Monopoly or various card games with my three VERY competitive brothers. This one did not ring a bell.

“The other name for it is Bloodystump!” Robert offered with much relish as he supervised Greg’s dealing of the deck.

“Eww. I think I like the rat better!” I said and the campers giggled.  “I sure don’t want to see any bloody stumps in the nursing office! OK guys? Take it easy!”

“But that’s half the fun though, Anne!” Greg whined.

“Riiiight!” 

I watched the game for the next two quick rounds. The campers attempted to explain the rules to me as they played. Then the bell rang. Time for afternoon activities. The Egyptian Ratscrew and ‘Duck-duck-goose’ games came to an end as the campers divvied up into their huts and went off in four different directions. My three kids spotted me sitting on the picnic table and trudged over.

“What do you guys wanna do this afternoon?” I asked as my son climbed up into my lap.

“Can we go canoeing, Mum?” My eldest daughter asked. “We can show you how to do a T rescue!”

“I’m not sure I am up for a T rescue but a canoe ride sounds fun.”

“Awh but Mum, we are good at rescues!!” The girls complained. “Ya. We are beasts!”

“What if we paddle over to the little island across the bay and explore it?” I suggested with excitement in my voice. I didn’t really want to have to attempt to manage two canoes with three little kids. One canoe was plenty.

“What island?” Daughter number two inquired.

“There is a little island on the far side of the bay. We can paddle over there, get out, explore and maybe have a snack before we paddle back in time for general swim. Waddaya think?”

“Oooooo. Yes! Let’s do that!” The girls were invested now. It was likely the snack that sealed the deal.

“What is the snack Mummy?” My son asked as he held my face with his hands.

“I have some gummy sharks up in my bag. We can have those. Does that sound good?”

“Yes. Gummy sharks. Let’s go get them!” He hopped off my lap and started towards the stairs. The three of us followed in his wake. 

We got up to the first level (burning thighs!!) when one of the counselors, Ben, stopped us. Ben asked me if he could show me his foot that was hurting. He sat down on a step as he pulled off his sock and shoe. The kids and I bent over and took a look at his (super smelly) foot. It was a case of athlete’s foot that had caused cracking between his toes. It looked very painful. I told him to keep his feet clean and dry and try some flip flops to allow them to air out. I recommended that he try some foot spray if anyone had any.  Ben thanked me and went on his way.   

We trudged up the next level of stairs (so fatigued!) when Ashley stopped us to ask about a burn on her forearm. She had sustained it from an oven rack while taking a tray out of the oven yesterday. The kids and I watched as she pulled her loose sleeve up to reveal a two inch fluid filled blister on her arm. It made us all cringe. It looked really greasy too. 

“Did you put some cream on it Ashley?”

“Someone told me to put butter on it.” Ashley answered.

“Well, let’s not do that anymore. Just leave it alone. OK?”

“So, I can’t pop the blister? Cuz, I really, really want to! It’s driving me nuts!” 

“No. Just leave it. That is nature’s way of attempting to heal the area. Keep it clean and dry.”

Ashley thanked me and went on her way. So did we, as we started up the last set of stairs. When we got to the top (SO tired!) and stepped into the hallway when Amy approached me to ask about a rash on her legs. The four of us took a look. She had excoriations on her inner thighs probably from wearing wet shorts all morning during her instructions. More cringing. I recommended that she change out of her wet shorts and put on some longer shorts so her thighs would not brush against each other and aggravate it further. 

“Do I need a cream?” Amy asked.

“Bacitracin might help soothe it and prevent it from getting infected. But otherwise, I would just recommend that you keep the area clean and dry.”

Ashley thanked me and returned to her room. The four of us proceeded down the hall to my room to find our gummy sharks. 

“Mum?”

“Yes?”

“Is that all you ever say?” My daughter asked as I knelt down and pulled my hockey bag out from under the bunk bed.

“Say what?” I asked as I rummaged through the bag.

“Keep it clean and dry. Keep it clean and dry. Keep it clean and dry.” She said mimicking me sing song-ish as she tilted her head from side to side. I stopped rummaging and looked up at her little face. I winked at her.

“Eighty percent of the time, darling! Now that you know the secret, you can be a camp nurse too!”

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