For those of us who frequented summer camps as a kid, those places began to feel like home, even if we only spent a short period of time there each summer. Imagine if this same experience could expand beyond childhood? Honors student, Annette Smith, recounts her internship experience as a nursing assistant at Camp Kennybrook, where she was able to find that home away from home we so fondly remember, all while getting real-life experience in nursing.
Are you an Alpine blue or Caribbean gold? I remember being asked this by one of my campers the first day of Color War at Camp Kennybrook. Color War at Kennybrook consists of the camp being divided into the two camp colors, blue and gold. During the final week, it was war. You were either on one side or the other. The two groups competed against each other for the last week of camp in activities such as soccer, basketball, and swimming. I will never forget the energy of the campers as they woke up each day dressed from head to toe in their team colors. The girls would be wearing tutus and tights of their team colors while the guys would stick to their shorts and shirts. The captains of both teams would be easily spotted, painted from head to toe in their team colors and wearing a majestic cape around their neck. This place had become my home for two months, and the fact that it was coming to an end, made me realize how much I was going to miss it.
For Summer 2017, I interned as a nursing assistant at Camp Kennybrook, a summer camp for kids ages seven to sixteen. I worked at the health center on camp with three other nurses. My internship lasted for about two months. As the nursing assistant, I was in charge of executing basic first aid care on sick campers. This helped me improve my first aid skills and gave me a taste of what a nursing clinical would be like. I was in charge of campers who came in with minor cuts, scrapes, bug bites, rashes, small head injuries, or fevers. For cuts and scrapes, I had to determine what type of ointment to administer: Neosporin for cuts or hydro-cortisone for bug bites. As much as it got tiring to give them out, I loved seeing all the campers who would come in for ice packs to ice their sore or impacted muscles. I loved making beds for campers staying overnight with illnesses ranging from fevers to impetigo. Yes, we had a serious case of impetigo, which is a contagious skin infection that causes red sores on the face. Even though it was constantly busy at the health center during this time, I learned so much from how to handle a contagious infection. I will never forget the constant sanitization and cleansing of all things that the patients touched or may have been exposed to. We also had to make sure cuts were covered to limit other kids from getting impetigo, especially since we had a lake and pool.
In addition, my internship came with many great highlights. One aspect I would like to highlight is getting to travel to Washington D.C. as a nurse with the 7th grade campers and being able to experience the nation’s capital with them. I got to see the White House, the Holocaust Museum, the Lincoln Memorial and other cool places. The second aspect I would like to highlight was getting to go to Six Flags for the first time with the 7th grade campers. I overcame my fear of heights as I went on some of the tallest rides with my campers. A third aspect I would like to highlight was learning a lot about how to care for kids with type 1 diabetes. Specifically, on the trip to Washington D.C., I was the nurse in charge of a 12 year old diabetic boy, Sam. I learned a lot about how to constantly check his sensor and record his blood glucose level and carbohydrate intake. I also learned about the importance of changing his Omni-pod every 3 days in order to get accurate blood glucose results. A fourth aspect I would like to highlight is becoming great friends with some of the international counselors and campers at camp. The camp was very diverse, filled with counselors and campers from places like the United States, England, Australia, and Spain.
Overall, this experience made me realize that I had chosen the right career path: nursing. Camp Kennybrook has reaffirmed my love of working with and caring for kids. Living and caring for these kids for two months allowed me to view the world through their eyes and made me realize that life should be lived moment by moment. Even with a case of impetigo running around camp, these kids didn’t let that stop them from having the best summer they could possibly have. They taught to me to live more and worry less and I will forever live by this. As far as I know, Kennybrook will forever be a home to me.
Any internship that allows you to work with a new group of people and gain new experiences is valuable. Internships that allow you to prepare for your career, all while working with a new group of people, are even better. Whether you are majoring in business or nursing, or anything in between, there are many internship opportunities to be taken advantage of that can help prepare you for whatever career path you see for yourself.
Written by: Annette Smith, Honors Student
Annette Smith is from Eagan, Minnesota, and is currently a Sophomore at Iowa. She is a pre-nursing major with a minor in German. She is also a member of the Almighty Alpha Sigma Lambda Gamma.
Edited by: Chloe Sekhran, Blog Manager