Here’s something I threw together (borrowing extracts from the SeriousFun and Over The Wall websites) about what doctors and nurses can experience volunteering at camp. Nurses who have been qualified for at least 18 months, and doctors who are ST2 and above working in paediatrics or general practice can apply online, or get further information by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .
Over the Wall is a national UK children’s charity and a member of the international SeriousFun Children’s Network of camps. Their mission is simple: “To create opportunities for children and their families to reach beyond serious illness and discover joy, confidence and a new world of possibilities, always free of charge.”
They do this through free of charge therapeutic recreation camps which help children with life-limiting illnesses reach beyond the perceived limitations of illness to rediscover a whole new world of possibilities. Through participation in a proven programme of fun-filled recreational and educational activities, our camps help promote inclusion whilst developing the confidence, self-esteem, coping strategies and peer relationships of all our campers.
The Med Team is made up of doctors and nurses working in paediatrics (or general practice). The Med Team’s role is giving ‘home away from home’ care which normally involves morning, lunch and evening medicines, overnight NG/PEG feeds, dressing changes, blood sugar monitoring etc. It will also if necessary involve responding to emergencies (for example, sickle cell crisis). The ‘Med Shed’ at camp provides an area for treatment and care with minimal clinical or hospital appearance. Decorated walls and doctors dressed up with face-paint on who the children have just raced up a climbing wall against allow for doctor-patient relationships beyond that achievable in hospital.
Outcome research from Yale has shown camp significantly improves a camper’s quality of life, psychological symptoms, social interactions and relationships plus self-confidence both socially and in disease management. For clinician’s, volunteering at camp allows opportunity to see the other side of the child and the profession. It allows team work in a fun environment and true colours to shine through. After experiencing this, doctors at camp have reported recognising those traits in hospital practice too.
Camp gives doctors and nurses the chance to treat the whole child, and not just the hole in the child. As one camper said: “Disease can be cured at hospital, but it is not easy to learn how to live again.”