(Home) Sick.

When it comes to over-night camp, things can be hard for some campers especially if they’ve never been away from home for very long. Nights will be filled with hugs and tears and the sounds of counselors singing campers to sleep (or if you’re like me, you’ll play music off your phone). As camp gets on its way, this issue fades away – kind of. It’ll just move from nighttime to morning tears and nothings worse than waking up to a crying kid at 6:30 in the morning.


But if you just so happen to be the camp nurse, I’m sorry but this ends up being your problem, not because we don’t want to deal with crying kids, but because over the years homesick has become plain, old, regular sick. But as a counselor it’s important to be able to spot the real sick from the homesick-sick, and here’s how.

When you have a camper stumbling towards you clutching their stomach with both arms with tears in their eyes, complaining that their tummy hurts you have to be ready to be the bad guy. Just to be clear, I don’t mean that you have to be mean and tell them that they’re lying because you sure as hell know that their tummy doesn’t hurt because they were just playing tetherball with another kid. You’ve got to beat them at their own game.

But if they’re green in the face and look dazed they’re sick for real. Send them to the nurse. Now.

First, you have to let them think you think they’re being truthful. This part’s important and needs to be done right. You absolutely have to be careful with which tone you use. Pity them.


What happened?

Are you okay?


At this point the kid will think they’ve got you hooked, and they’ll turn it up a notch (or five) and bring on the waterworks. Sobbing and crying about how their tummy hurts, to which you respond with more questions.


Did you eat enough/too much?

How much water did you drink today?


Now, here’s where it might get tricky. This is the time when you sit them down and lay out their options for them. Don’t give them too many because they’ll start to take you up on all of those options and before you know it, you’ll be holding a cup of water near their top-bunk as they drink with a bendy stray. Give them the boring ones.


Do you want to sit out for a bit?

Drink some water and sit in the shade for a little.

If you’re really not feeling well you can sit out during swim.


That last one, usually get them. Just beware, because some campers try to outsmart you. They’ll sit and sulk beside you, sipping from their water bottle.But after a few minutes, the crying will subside and the tummy cutch will have reduced to scratching a mosquito bite on the knee. Now this is where you can have a little fun with things.


How’re you feeling, has your headache gone away?

Dose your arm still hurt?

As they sit there in glorious triumph because you believe they’re not feeling well, distracted by their victory, they’ll answer the question you’ve asked them. Only noticing that the original ailment was a stomach-ache and not a headache…

BOOM. You. Just. Won.

Now I know that you’re probably sitting there thinking why would kids want to go to the nurse? It’s quite clear once you’ve been to the nurse yourself. That cabin is a haven. Equipped with air-conditioning, a fridge filled with ginger ale, and a fully stocked freezer full of freezies. Every campers’ dreamland.


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