S'mores and Sanitizer-Wearing many hats/sombreros

S'mores and Sanitizer is a blog run by contributor Susan Sultzman. It can be found here This content was created on 6/4/14

I’m home today.  I get a day off once a week.  Because I’m the night nurse my day off starts at 8am when I’m off duty, and ends at 8pm the following day. Coming home and briefly going back to my “real” life helps me put things in perspective, and helps me reflect about my week.  My hubby and I work it out so we both are home at the same time (he is on the road all week in the summer.) So we end up chatting about everything about our week, go out to lunch, do shopping/errands, and then hang out in the evening on the deck or if it’s raining (like last night) we catch some Netflix shows together. Last night there was a break in the rain and we walked down the street to the local bar, which was having an outdoor party with fireworks.   It feels exactly like life was before the kids, since they stay up at camp. My day at home is a nice little shot in the arm to energize me and make me feel good about returning for another week of camp.

So the 8p-8a night nurse gig is working out so far for everyone.  I love my room in the Health Center and it’s turned out to be quieter than I thought during the day. (Only once was I up late – 2am – with a camper, and although I could have slept in, I just settled for a quick afternoon nap.)  When the morning nurse(s) arrive, I grab a quick breakfast, shower, and take some personal time before 10am when I grab a clipboard at the office and do camp and cabin inspections. First, I go to all the camp areas- the shower houses, gathering areas, arts buildings, etc. and determine if the cabin assigned to that area had done a decent job of cleanup.  Then I go back up to the cabins and inspect those. Most cabins are extremely competitive and strive to get 10’s. They lose half points if certain things are not done, like if their assigned camp area not adequate, beds not made, trash or clothes on floor, trash not emptied, etc.  So that takes me about an hour. I want to get my routine down and cut my time, but so far so good.

After that, my day is potpourri.  If you scroll further and read my blog from last year, you’ll see that I had lamented about feeling like a fly on the wall, always on the outside looking in to all the fun and activities from the Health Center porch.  My new work schedule this year has granted me my wish while allowing me to still practice nursing.  I do a bit of everything, and I never know what they’ll have me do next.  Often I drive people into town to the doctor or to pick up stuff at Walmart for various departments.  I help out in the office making phone calls, sorting mail, various clerical duties, work the camp store when it’s open, etc. I pitch in down at Arts and Crafts, cover at the Health Center for others’ days off, and pretty much anything that comes up.  I usually have down time from 5-8pm,. At 8p I go back to the HC and the rest of the nurses retire.  Then, I see and treat a parade of boo-boos, turned ankles, sour tummies, headaches, etc. until 9-9:30 when things finally settle down. Also kids w evening meds come in.  There’s usually one or two that forget to come by (ahem… Claudia)… so I call the Rover on duty to retrieve the girl to escort her down. Often a camper who’s feeling poorly will come down with her counselor some time between lights out and midnight.  But mostly, after 10pm I pour the next day’s meds, tidy up, sweep, take out trash, enter all visits into the computer, do my own laundry, and I’m in bed (hopefully) around midnight.  If a group comes back in late, I need to do lice checks on them.

Sometimes a counselor with the night off will come by for a medical reason and then stay and chat for a while.  Or I’ll drive them into town for a doctor visit and engage in some quality talk time on the way.  This is one of my favorite things about camp, getting to know these great people.  Most of our counselors are from the UK, another European country, Latin America and Australia.  (We have some Americans too, they’re just as great!)  They are all intelligent, thoughtful, open-minded, and adventurous.  Our director really has a knack for choosing quality individuals to work at camp. I really admire anyone who can take such a leap of faith to leave their families and life as they know it to fly far away to to live and work in a foreign country for nearly three months.  I love to pick their brains, ask them questions about everything- school systems, uni (college), their healthcare system, tax system, their politics, the EU and their place in it, food, language/accents, culture, current trends, social problems, other countries they’ve visited, families, etc.  The way I see it, if I cannot go travelling myself, I can still experience the world through what they tell me.  I’ve met several amazing, articulate, interesting ladies so far and look forward to getting to know more of them. I also enjoy fielding questions about America if they ask. When I take people to the doctor, they learn a bit about our healthcare system whether they like it or not. Sometimes they comment on the ubiquitous American flags displayed in public and we talk about the culture of our patriotism.  I’ve also described the day of September 11 and how it felt to live in the moment of it, not knowing at the time how the day would play out, the fear we had not knowing what was going on and life in the weeks that followed.

Also, I’ve been able to practice my Spanish with several of the ladies.  I’ve been brushing up on my skills for my New Year’s resolution (I quit Candy Crush and replaced that wasted time with Duolingo.com) . I think the thing that’s hampering me the most is my reluctance to sound less than perfect when I speak. I don’t mind having an accent but I’m a Grammar Nazi at heart and I know I’m butchering Spanish when I speak it. (I call it my Tarzan Spanish.)  I try to remind myself that as long as I get the point across it’s all good, and they probably welcome a break from the onslaught of English in their ears all day. These ladies earn special admiration from me- they take their rudimentary high school English knowledge, immerse themselves in a foreign land, and muddle their way to fluency over the summer, smiling through it all as they go!

So that’s my camp experience so far.  I’ve committed to an extra week now, since they lost a nurse before camp began and they need someone. There’s two more weeks that I’m contemplating, but at this point, Steve and I aren’t sure it’s feasible. I know Natasha and Claudia would love to stay the whole time!  More on my girls later!