Nursing at Camp Trillium
A huge part of what nurses do at camp, is to help foster a camp environment that strives to make the effects of cancer “normal” so that all campers are recognized as kids first and are encouraged and supported to do the things that kids do.
The “Body Shop” is the health care facility at camp. This is where nurses are available twenty-four hours a day and provide health care to campers, staff and volunteers. Day Camp nurses carry a portable “Body Shop”, a toolkit of assessment and treatment supplies. All campers, including parent campers, staff and volunteers are required to have a completed health record on site.
At our residential sites a team of 3-5 registered nurses work at each session. A charge nurse facilitates the operation of the Body Shop. As well there may be a health care assistant on each team, who is typically a nursing student entering his/her final year. There is generally a core summer nursing team that is added to, as sessions require.
Camp Trillium does not routinely staff doctors on site. A physician in the surrounding community as well as a pediatric oncologist from the closest regional cancer centre is available to nurses for consultation. For Day Camp, the nurse and camp director will have the nearest hospital to the park mapped out in case of any medical emergency.
What will I be expected to do as a Nurse at Camp Trillium?
Besides meeting some terrific kids and having lots of fun, here are some of the things you may be expected to do.
- Daily distribution of personal medications, including oral chemotherapy.
- Assessment and treatments of common ailments like colds, flu and homesick tummies!
- Administration of over-the-counter medications.
- First aid treatment of minor accidents and injuries and responding to major emergencies. Mock emergencies are practiced each session.
- Documentation and record keeping.
- Accompanying campers on overnight and off-site programs like canoe trips, swimming at the sand dunes and riding buses to and from camp.
- Sharing in the “on-call” rotations at night. (overnight camps only)
- Additional nursing skills like flushing central lines, dressing changes and venipunctures by nurses currently certified in a medical institution.
- Monitoring the health and wellness of all campers, staff and volunteers. (prevention and early detection of illness)
- Promotion of healthy living to prevent illness and spread of communicable diseases during staff training and daily.
- Camp community living activities like cleaning, laundry, and inventory, tidy cabin inspections and maybe singing a song at the campfire! Day Camp Nurses can expect to participate in all activities in the capacity of a counselor for the most part.
What oncology issues should a Nurse at Camp Trillium be familiar with?
- Common childhood cancer diagnoses: ALL, AML, various Brain Tumours, Hodgkin’s Disease, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphomas, Ewing’s Sarcoma, Osteogenic Sarcoma, Rhabdomyosarcoma, Wilm’s Tumour, Neuroblastoma
- Common oral cancer treatment medications: Purinethol (Mercaptopurine, 6-MP), Thioguanine (6-TG), Methotrexate (Amethopterine, MTX), Septra, Dapsone, Decadron (Dexamethasone), Prednisone, Ondansetron (Zofran)
- Short-term and long-term side-effects of cancer treatment for both the patient and their siblings and parents
- End of life care, and bereavement issues
- Interpreting CBC’s (“counts”), especially ANC’s (Absolute Neutrophil Count)
- Recognizing and understanding the implications of Febrile Neutropenia, in the camp setting, and in the off-site camp setting
- Care of Central lines (Hickman, Portocath, PICC)
- G-tube/J-tubes care
What every Day Health issues should a Nurse at Camp Trillium be familiar with?
- Basic over-the-counter medications, indications and contraindications (like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, diphenhydramine, dimenhydrinate, and antihistamines)
- The basics of communicable diseases. prevention and treatment (things like sore throats, ear aches, sore tummies, head lice, diarrhea, chicken pox, public health guidelines)
- The basics of first aid and first response, for typical camp type injuries and emergencies (sprains, scraps, burns, poison ivy, zebra mussels, ticks)
- The basics of childhood diabetes, seizures, asthma, ADHD
- Developmental considerations for children (and adults) aged 0-9
- Anaphylaxis prevention, education, recognition and treatment, including the use of Epi-pens and Twinjects
- Sun safety
- West Nile Virus prevention
How much orientation will I receive?
Full summer nurses will come to camp for staff training prior to the start of the summer. Time will be spent with the camp staff learning about Camp Trillium’s philosophy, our programs and our emergency procedures. The rest of the time will be spent with the Nursing Director and/or Charge Nurse reviewing nursing and camp policies and procedures and organizing the Body Shop.
Nurses who come for specific camp sessions will receive orientation when they arrive. Nurses who are new to Camp Trillium will participate in our volunteer training session the day before camp begins.
What resources will be available to me at Camp?
In addition to your staff manual that you will be mailed once you have returned your contract package, you will have access to Camp Trillium’s Nursing Policy and Procedures manual, our chemotherapy drug manual, and a variety of resource books (first aid, Merck manual, CPS, Canadian Cancer Society publications). There is Internet access for medical references at both sites, emergency phone numbers, clinic contact numbers and you can contact the Nursing Director anytime.