The health, safety, and wellness of Canadian campers are always top of mind for Camp Directors, Doctors, Nurses, and First Aiders. As a service to Canadian camps, we are pleased to offer a collection of resources to help promote healthy and safe experiences for children at summer camps.
The Association of Camp Nurses is a professional nursing organization working toward healthier camp communities by supporting the practice of camp nursing. ACN is volunteer-driven by nurses who are committed to these same goals.
Camp Nursing-Circles of Care is a popular and useful resource for camp nurses across the country.
Written by experienced camp nurse and award-winning author, Mary Casey BScN PHN, Camp Nursing-Circles of Care gives an overview of the multi-faceted job of a camp nurse.
Spiral-bound for convenient reference, the book includes fifty pages of Treatment Guidelines and the accepted procedures for illness and accidents. The content and the principles presented are applicable to all camps.
Since 2015, a Lyme Disease Stakeholder group, headed up by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care involving many stakeholders from across Ontario, including the Ontario Camps Association, has been working towards the creation of Lyme Disease training and education tools.
The following information was created to help bring awareness and education on Lyme disease which you may be dealing with this summer:
Posters and fact sheets they can be ordered from:
Order online from Service Ontario at: https://www.publications.serviceontario.ca
Order by phone: 416 326-5300
Depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD, anorexia, bulimia – statistically it is likely that someone at camp will be struggling with one of these mental health issues. Are you prepared?
Mental Health professionals are encouraged that society is becoming more aware, informed and accepting of mental conditions, but we are still years away from being as open and knowledgeable about mental health as we are about physical health. Cheryl Bernknopf, RN, BScN, Professor of Nursing at Seneca College (Toronto) and a camp nurse with thirty years of experience, offers some practical advice for camp leaders:
First, the camp must determine if it has adequate personnel resources to serve campers and staff with mental health issues. Some camps are contracting with mental health experts to provide this service.
If the camp accepts campers with these special needs, preparations are necessary.
Camps should be aware that:
Establish a procedure to enable staff to take an unscheduled break if one is needed.
Experts identify four factors for good mental and physical health:
With proper knowledge and planning, the risk of infectious or communicable disease outbreaks at camp can be decreased and your ability to handle the situation heightened.
Fact sheets from your own region’s public health department are only a click away.
The camp’s Health Care Custodian should review every health form to screen for those who are NOT immunized or who are immunosuppressed (such as people undergoing chemotherapy).
Immunization dates should be provided for every camper and staff. If they are not, it is recommended that efforts be made to obtain the dates of immunization.
Develop a policy that clearly states the procedures your camp will follow if an individual is suspected to have measles (or any other communicable illness).
To ensure the health and safety of everyone:
We worry about our population who are not vaccinated but remember that vaccinations are not 100% effective. There is a small population who, although fully vaccinated, could possibly come down with the illness. With this in mind, we need to be monitoring and assessing everyone who shows any signs of illness.
Make sure you have health staff on hand who are knowledgeable and able to identify the signs and symptoms of measles (or any communicable/infectious disease). Early detection will mean less exposure and a better ability for your camp to handle any issues that may arise.
Contact families of those who are not immunized or immunosuppressed.
A frank discussion of the situation should take place and a joint decision made on the next steps.
It is recommended these campers be removed from camp for the isolation period.
Follow your camp crisis response plan and notify your provincial association
All suspected cases of measles MUST be reported to the public health department in your area.
Prior to camp, obtain a list of all the reportable illnesses from your local public health department and know they are there to help you.
Do you know a camp nurse whose work at camp has made a difference to your camp’s health/wellness profile? has your camp nurse been an ACN member for at least one year? If so, your camp nurse is eligible to be nominated for ACN’s “Camp Nurse of the Year” Award.
A hallmark of a profession is that it recognizes excellence among its practitioners. Toward that end, ACN’s Board approved the creation of the Camp Nurse of the Year Award. This award is designed to recognize an ACN member (nurse) who, by virtue of being a camp nurse at his/her camp, made a significant difference to that camp’s health/wellness profile. While the Association’s Jeanne Otto Award recognizes the contribution to the profession of camp nursing, the Camp Nurse of the Year Award recognizes a camp nurse’s significant contribution to the health status of his/her own camp and the people there.
The Association of Camp Nurses offers regular educational events and meetings to provide opportunities for learners to incorporate current evidence-based practices in their own camp nursing.