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Camp Nurses: a story and an invitation!

Pilgrim PinesWhat does it mean to volunteer at camp? Sometimes, it means falling in love.  We need three more volunteer camp nurses this summer – must be a currently licensed LVN, RN, or doctor – and you will work with our trained health center director who knows how to manage the paperwork needed.

Read a powerful testimony from one of our nurses below:

 A Story from a Camp Nurse

by Diane Tucker

Three years ago I had a life-changing experience. It was an experience I didn’t expect, nor did I plan for. My friend, Neal Washburn, made an announcement one Sunday at church asking for volunteers for the summer camp at Pilgrim Pines. I didn’t feel qualified to be a counselor. I was a dud at arts and crafts. The high ropes course scared the daylights out of me. But I did have a nursing license.

Thus it was that I volunteered to be the nurse for one week at Pilgrim Pines. I knew I’d have to deal with basic first aid…blisters, sunburn, skinned knees, twisted ankles, cramps, splinters (Oh my goodness, the amount of splinters!) I knew that in a worst case scenario I would be the one to make the decision to call the paramedics.  (Something that never happened on my watch.). Oh yes, I knew all that. What I didn’t know is that I would fall in love.

It happened the first time I put a handful of meds into a Pinester’s outstretched hand and he said “Watch this. I can take ‘em all at once!” When was the last time a patient made me laugh outloud? It happened the first time I cleansed and dressed the hurt knee of a seven-year old and she said, “I really like you, nurse.”  It happened the first time I removed a splinter from a finger and was asked by a junior high boy, “Is this going to hurt?”  “Yes, a little bit,” I replied. When it was over he said, “Well, I’m glad you told me the truth because that did hurt, but I’m okay now. You’re good.” And it happened every time I walked into the dining hall and I would hear campers call out my name just to say “Hi.” And it would happen four times a day when beautiful smiling faces would line up outside the health office waiting for their meds, even saying “Thank you,” as they walked away. And it happened the first time I walked into a health office room to check on a child resting in bed with a tummy ache. “Are you going to keep coming in here to check up on me?” she asked (A little defensively, I thought). I replied “I’m going to keep coming in here to see if you’re okay.”  “Oh, that’s cool, I like that,” she smiled.  And the hugs, oh my, the hugs. How can you not fall in love with the sweetness, the generosity, the innocence of a child or Pinester who wants to share a small bit of themselves by hugging you?

And I fell in love with the mountain each morning on my walk watching the sunrise and hearing the birds, and each evening sitting outside looking at the stars and listening to the laughter of the campers.

You might say, “Well, that sounds great. Sign me up for a week’s vacation in the mountains.” Lest I have led you to believe that it’s all fun and games and accolades for the nurse, it’s not. You will work and some days you will work hard. You will often go to bed exhausted, only to be awakened in the night by someone needing Tums and TLC. But what you take away from this experience will be far more than you give.

Each time my week as nurse is over and I drive down the mountain, I feel at peace with myself. I am humbled by the joy of life that the Pinesters exhibit. I have learned to slow down and smell the roses (the pines in this case). I have learned to be more accepting and more patient. I have learned to love more and to welcome being loved. And all of these wonderful feelings I can take to the other side of the mountain and gently remember when I am rushed, annoyed, angry, out-of-sorts, sad, or lonely. Being a nurse at Pilgrim Pines is a life-changing experience.

“And the mountain shall bring peace to the people.”

It does. Indeed, it does.

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