I love being a pediatrician. I get to practice medicine while spending the day with adorable, silly children. I help them feel better, watch them grow up and guide their parents through each stage of development.
But, once a year I give that all up in order to go into the mountains and volunteer as a camp doctor. Why, you may ask, would anyone choose to work during vacation time? Partly I do it for my children. I get to watch them make friends, conquer the ropes course, and dance on their chairs during mealtime. They gain independence and grow up just a little bit more each summer. The other reason that I do it is because it reminds me of how much I loved camp when I was growing up. Besides actually working, I get to go on hikes, enjoy the mountain air and catch up on my reading.
My main job though is to be the doctor. But let’s face it; camp medicine is not like real medicine. I go to work each day wearing shorts and a t-shirt. I have even taken care of campers while wearing a bathing suit and once while in my pajamas! Sometimes, my dog Luna comes with me to be my sidekick, helping homesick kids feel better in between chasing squirrels and lizards. During sick call, the majority of complaints that I hear are things normally fielded by mom and dad; tummy aches, sore throats and stuffy noses. Our hottest commodity from the med room is definitely cough drops. I also take out splinters, wrap sprained ankles and ice injuries. Sometimes I actually diagnose and treat strep throat, ear infections and sinus infections. The health center is also a place for exhausted and dehydrated campers to rest and get some Gatorade before rejoining their friends. We even keep kids over night that need to be isolated due to a contagious illness. Of course, it’s also a place to come and sit, get out of the heat, and gossip a little. By the end of the week, all 200 campers become my kids. I eat meals with them, watch them at their activities and fix what ails them.
So, if you send your kids to summer camp, don’t worry because Dr. Mom (or Dad) is there with them.