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Dr. Terry “hard at work” in the TP Infirmary

I remember the first time I got sick at camp.  I was nine-years-old, and it was my first summer at Towering Pines.  The second floor of the Lodge felt like miles away from my top bunk in Cabin 5, Mohawk, on Clear Lake.  The nurse told me that because of my fever, I would not be able to attend activities.  I was pretty excited about missing instructional swim, but I was sad to miss riding, archery, TP Players, photography, canteen, and most of all, being able to “help” my cabin on one of the Sunday activity days.

At the time, I took the camp nurse’s role for granted.  She checked my temperature and brought up meals for me from the dining hall.  She was so patient with me when I struggled to swallow a pill for the first time — a small red Sudafed, which tasted absolutely disgusting in my failing efforts to swallow it, but it sure helped to clear my stuffy nose.  Having a full-time health facility on campgrounds didn’t strike me as special or even that helpful; to me, being sick was an inconvenience from my otherwise awesome summer.

Though I would spend many summers at Towering Pines, I never expected to volunteer to return as the camp doctor 24 years after my first trip to the TP infirmary!  In summer 2019, I had the good fortune to spend 2 weeks trying to live up to the legends of the camp nurses who took such great care of me.

Being the camp “health official” is a pretty big job — in some ways, it was busier than my regular work as a doc!

Some of the responsibilities of the camp doc/nurse include:

  • Packing and dispensing (“passing”) medications at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks
  • Weekly cabin health inspections for all campers and staff
  • First contact for campers and staff who aren’t feeling well
  • Inventory and sorting for all community linens and lodge laundry
  • Maintenance of the “infirmary” (for any “quarantined” campers or staff)
  • Referring out to local facilities for any bigger injuries or more serious illnesses
  • Coordinating coverage between both Towering Pines, Woodland, and the Camp Directors
  • Managing all over-the-counter medications and interventions (Band-Aids are super popular at camp!  Who knew?!)
  • Education on hygiene, keeping feet dry, etc.

What did we see in Summer 2019?

  • Overwhelmingly, our campers and staff were super healthy.  Everyone was safe, reported for inspections, and counselors did an excellent job taking care of their campers.
  • We went through a ton of Band-Aids!  Cough drops were our second most popular item.
  • Some campers liked to come by just for a bit of “parental” attention (we learned who our “regulars” were pretty quickly!)
  • One broken bone (in a staff member with a great story)
  • A few rashes and bug bites
  • Athlete’s foot
  • A bunch of allergies
  • The regular coughs and colds
  • A few strains and sprains
  • Expected opportunities to remind the boys about changing socks, wearing dry shoes, and the great self-care and development that is best learned in the 360-degree educational environment of camp.

Did I love being the camp doc?  Absolutely!!  I love every part of camp, and it was such a privilege to serve in this role.  I affirmed my understanding that Towering Pines and Woodland do an incredible job caring for the health and safety of their campers.

– Dr. Jonathan “JB” Terry is a 15+ -year camp participant and a huge fan of Camp Towering Pines and Woodland.  Read more at www. drjonathanterry.com and check out his #1 new-release educational coloring book on Amazon, with proceeds dedicated to mental health resources and education.

Originally posted on December 4, 2019 at https://www.toweringpinescamp.com/blog/the-camp-doctor-will-see-you-now/

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