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Healthcare Workers Make a Difference as Summer Camp Volunteers

Healthcare Workers Make a Difference as Summer Camp Volunteers

Linda Childers | Monster Contributing Writer

Camp and Learn

Ellie McKinney, RRT, a respiratory therapist at the North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo, Mississippi, volunteers at Camp Bluebird, a national summer camp for adults with cancer. She is also director of Camp Breathe Ezzzze, an asthma camp for children sponsored by the North Mississippi Medical Center.

In addition to ensuring campers enjoy themselves, medical volunteers like McKinney provide an important educational component. At Camp Breathe Ezzzze, for example, campers learn to manage their asthma through a series of games and activities. “We make using the peak-flow meters fun,” McKinney says. “We do a lot of education and reinforcement, but we present it in a fun way.”

And the educational aspects can also benefit the medical volunteers. Mary Bernstein, a nurse at the University of California at San Francisco’s Psoriasis and Skin Treatment Center, has volunteered at Camp Wonder, a camp for children with rare skin diseases, held each summer in Livermore, California.

Since Bernstein works primarily with adults in her full-time job, the camp allowed her to work with children who have the rare epidermolysis bullose (EB) skin disease.

“We work to change dressings on the children with EB, which can often take from one to three hours,” Bernstein says. “We pitch in wherever we are needed, and I can honestly say that volunteering at camp has been one of the most positive experiences in my career.”

Where to Volunteer

To find camp volunteer opportunities, contact:

• American Camp Association: The Special Needs section lists camps needing medical volunteers.

• Lists summer camps for children, including medically supervised camps.

• American Lung Association: Sponsors asthma camps nationwide.

• The Muscular Dystrophy Association: Sponsors summer camps for children and teens with neuromuscular diseases.

Most organizations accept applications year-round until the camp begins. There is no fee to volunteer, and camps provide orientation, training, food, lodging and medical supplies.

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