Camp Nurse

What Is a Camp Nurse?

Camp nursing is a unique and fun career pathway for RNs who don't want to work in a typical hospital or medical office setting. The primary task of the camp nurse is to provide expert medical and health care services to a community - generally children or teens - in a camp or retreat environment. Because many camps don't have reliable phone or internet services, camp nurses need to have a broad range of expertise and a background in critical care/rapid response to perform the necessary duties in the event of an emergency. Work contracts for camp nurses are generally short term and take place in the summer months. As you might expect, camp nurses spend much of their time working with groups in an outdoor setting. In addition to having the skill set that one might associate with traditional registered nursing, camp nurses should also possess managerial skills since they're often responsible for overseeing the entire health office.

What Are Some Camp Nurse Duties?

Common camp nursing tasks often include:

  • Administer medications and provide first aid to campers and staff
  • Educate and train staff on how to recognize medical problems
  • Attend to injuries and treat campers who exhibit signs of illness
  • Carry out pre-health assessments
  • Establish and maintain the camp's health office
  • Ensure that medical supplies are well stocked
  • Educate campers about fire prevention, sunburn prevention, bug bites, and limiting one's risk of exposure to poison oak, stinging nettles, etc.
  • Establish a plan of action in the case that a contagious pathogen outbreak occurs
  • Provide emotional support for individuals who need it
  • Maintain accurate health records
  • Accompany the sick or injured to hospitals or medical facilities if needed

Where Do Camp Nurses Work?

Camp nurses are typically employed remotely wherever organized camps, retreats, or other events take place. Employment is often seasonal, lasting a few weeks to a few months at a time. Common workplace settings include:

  • Summer camps
  • Sports camps
  • Church camps
  • Residential camps

How to Become a Camp Nurse

The road toward becoming a camp nurse isn't dissimilar to that of other nursing specialties. They will need to complete their RN training via an accredited degree program and become licensed. They should then gain some clinical experience, preferably in critical care, emergency nursing, or pediatric nursing. Camp nurses must also be willing to take jobs on a temporary basis, as most camp nursing roles are not year-round positions.

Step 1: Educational Requirements

The following educational requirements must be met before an individual is eligible to become a camp nurse:

  • Earn an Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited college or university
  • Pass the NCLEX-RN licensing examination
  • Hold an active and unrestricted RN license
  • Experience in caring for children/teens, wilderness training, and emergency/trauma care are all beneficial to the role

Do Camp Nurses Need an RN Degree?

Yes, as camp nurses are often the sole healthcare providers in a camp setting, they must have extensive registered nursing training to take care of any medical emergencies that may arise. Therefore, individuals will need to hold an active RN license to hold this type of position.

Step 2: Required Camp Nurse Certifications/Credentials

Technically, there is no specific credential or certification that an RN needs to hold to become a camp nurse. However, to be a competitive candidate in the camp nurse job market there a few certifications, training courses, and experiences that are recommended. First and foremost, prospective camp nurses should complete a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or basic life support (BLS) training course. Some clinical experience in pediatric and/or critical care nursing is also recommended. For other educational or training course opportunities that will prepare you for employment as a camp nurse, please refer to the Association of Camp Nurses education and resource page.

Camp Nurse, Salary & Employment

Tens of thousands of parents send their kids to camps each year. Whether it's a church camp, educational camp, or sports camp, if you enjoy working with kids in a relaxed, outdoor environment, there are plenty of opportunities to do so in the field of camp nursing.

Job Description & Information

  • Essential Skills Needed - Strong communication skills, extensive knowledge of first aid and CPR, compassion, ability to respond well to unexpected situations, excellent decision-making skills, good with children and/or teens, empathy, and strong emotional and physical assessment abilities
  • Job Outlook - Although there are no specific job growth projections for the camp nursing specialty, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that the number of available jobs within the nursing sector will grow by approximately 16% between 2014 and 2024.

What Is the Average Salary of a Camp Nurse?

According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary for camp nurses is about $47,022 - slightly lower than the average for traditional RNs. The earning potential of a camp nurse will depend significantly on factors such the city and state of their employment, the employing organization, the amount of clinical experience in the field they have, as well as their education level and any certifications that they may have. Since much of their work is seasonal, benefits packages may vary widely.

How Much Do Camp Nurses Make per Year?

  • $36,500 – $52,000 annually

How Much Do Camp Nurses Make per Hour?

  • $23.00 average hourly wage

Camp Nurse Resources