Monday, August 3, 2009

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

I have worked as a camp nurse off and on for the past 10 years. The camp I work at is one I used to go to *ahem* twenty years ago. It is so comforting to hear the same graces sung at mealtimes, hear the same songs ringing out from the campfire circle and hear about the activities the kids are doing--I did them too!

Of course, things change too. The photography class no longer needs a darkroom. There is a shiny new shower house. Kids bring mp3 players to listen to during quiet time instead of walkmans and portable CD players.

Nursing changes too. When I first started camp nursing my med box was usually brimming with various antibiotics that the campers came with. Years went by and for a while I saw a lot boys using a nasal spray for bedwetting. This spray has since been banned from use. For a while there were a lot of kids coming to me on ritalin. Ritalin use seems to have peaked and is now on the decline. I only had one boy on it this summer, but I had a very large number of kids using anithistamines on a daily basis. I also had one little girl on daily doses of Prozac. This really made me sad. I spent a lot of time wondering about this girl and what made her parents think that it was ok to put someone not even fully grown on a drug that will alter her brain's chemistry and set her up for potentially fatal side effects as she grows into an adult. The director of the camp, also a nurse, was disturbed by the sheer number of supplements and herbs her teen campers came with the week before.

You get to see a real picture of how kids are raised as a camp nurse. Most of the campers were very concerned about Matthew when they saw him gleefully splashing in puddles or tasting the sand under the volleyball net. I often heard them tell me very seriously "He's getting dirty!! His feet are getting wet!" I know their hearts were in the right place and they all relaxed when I reassured them he would be ok if he got a little (ok, a lot) dirty. That is what camp is for!!!

I love that camps like this still exist so that urban kids CAN get dirty. One of my campers took great pride in getting Swimmer's Itch--he even counted his spots (over 100) Another girl took a teatherball to the face and wore her bloody nose like a badge of honour. Of course, I also had kids coming to my cabin to show me hangnails--you can't toughen them all up!


Anonymous said...

Not getting dirty! ;-)

When I taught, we called ADD PDD, for Parental Deficeit Disorder, which is not to ay some kids don't really have it, blah, blah blah.

Glad you had fun!

dari murray said...

Sorry Jennifer I have to leave my 2 cents with ya. As sad as it is some kids do need this daily dose to help themselves. My son is on a daily dose and if not for that he would be beside himself. Its not an easy decision to make but when it is affecting the childs quality of life than you have to look at things differently.
I know this is your blog(which I read frequently!!!and will continue to do so) so you can say what you believe in, but just want you to know there is always a story/reason behind everything.
Talk soon.

Unknown said...

Dari--I always welcome respectful comments, whether they agree with me or not.

I do understand that some kids genuinely need meds to get through the day....I was actually really happy to have only ONE kid on Ritalin this summer instead of five or six--when you get so many you wonder how many are really necessary. I am more worried about that girl on Prozac, actually. When you put a kid on prozac they are at much, much higher risk of suffering psychosis or suicidal depression later in life. Not easy side effects to contemplate.

I know you and I have met Carter--I see what you face every day and really respect your decision as his mom to do what is best for him.

Janelle said...

The more things change, the more they stay the same... I agree... this is why I teach, because it's fun to watch!