By Melissa Wirkus, staff writer
From learning how to put a cast on the arm of a fellow camper to earning CPR certification, it is easy to see why nursing camp at Bellin College of Nursing is not your ordinary summer camp.
The four-day overnight camp is an all-inclusive nursing experience open to high school juniors who have expressed an interest in nursing or the medical field in general. The students are housed at the University of Wisconsin’s Green Bay campus while attending the camp.
Students who attended the Bellin College of Nursing summer camp got to participate in a wide variety of nursing situations.
“The whole idea of the camp is to introduce the students to a nursing career or healthcare career,” said Sue Rymer, nursing instructor at Bellin College and co-director of the camp. “We are able to get them in there and show them that there is so much that nurses do that they may not know about.”
The camp is free for students due to donations from hospitals around the area that work in conjunction with the camp.
Students learn how to complete a variety of hands-on, basic nursing tasks including changing a sterile dressing, starting an IV, and even putting a cast on one another. They also participate in lab activities using a patient simulator where they can listen to heart and lung sounds.
In addition to learning basic nursing techniques, the campers also get the unique opportunity to shadow a nurse during their shift in one of three nearby hospitals.
“The campers have the opportunity to shadow a nurse for a couple hours for two days of the camp,” said Kathie DeMuth, nursing instructor at Bellin College and co-director of the camp. “We usually try to get them on a general floor one day and then a more specialized unit the next day.”
One of the main objectives of the camp is to expose the eager students to as many nursing specialties and career paths as possible. Students are able to explore a specialty before committing to it in nursing school, an opportunity that many practicing nurses did not have when choosing career paths.
“This experience opens them up to different nursing careers and specialties,” DeMuth said. “Nursing careers are so varied and to expose them to the different options this early is really important.”
Amanda Steinfeldt, a 17-year-old high school student, went to one of the three sessions of summer nursing camp offered this year, and gained some valuable insight into her future career.
“I always knew I wanted to be in the medical field, and this camp helped me decide on nursing,” she said. “The two days of shadowing nurses was really fun. It helps you decide what you want to do, such as maternity or med-surg. I went into camp thinking that I wanted to work on the Peds or NICU floor, but after shadowing, I realized that wasn’t really for me. Now I know I want to be a nurse anesthetist.”
Another highlight of the camp comes as the campers get a guided tour of an emergency room with a flight nurse and are then given a tour of the Eagle III emergency helicopter that serves the area.
Chris and Kyle Krzewina, 17-year-old twins who also recently attended a 2008 camp session, said they now know for sure that they want to go into nursing after high school.
“I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do nursing or radiology before the camp,” Kyle said. “But I thought it was really cool because it was interesting to see the different kinds of nursing that you can go into. Now I really want to work in either the emergency room or operating room.”
Chris was also excited about the real-life experience that came with shadowing the nurses and touring the emergency department at one of the hospitals.
“We learned how to do all sorts of things like IVs, change castings and look into ears,” Chris said. “I really liked that we got to shadow nurses in the ER—there was always something going on.”
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