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Nursing faculty fill YMCA volunteer need

Perhaps nurses aren’t the first thing to come to mind when thinking about summer camp, but they are a crucial part of Y Camp for kids in the Treasure Valley. Every year, the YMCA finds two nurses to work each week of their eight-week camp term at Horsethief Reservoir.

When School of Nursing Associate Professor Max Veltman first heard about the gig in 2008, he was quick to fill one of the 16 slots. He’s been working with the camp ever since and has recruited many other faculty along the way.

A volunteer nurse kneels in a cabin to apply ointment to a cut on the knee of a boy in an orange shirt.
Photo courtesy of Max Veltman.

“I got involved because Max Veltman had been involved,” Associate Professor Kelley Connor said. She signed up in 2012 and volunteered for several years. “A lot of nurses working in pediatrics don’t have the ability to take a week off in the summer like we do,” she said. “So I feel like it’s a good way to connect and give back.”

Often the most challenging task nurses face is not a major medical emergency; it’s differentiating between kids who need medical attention and those who are homesick or anxious.

“You might get some 7-year-old who is homesick and nervous, and it gives them a stomach ache,” Connor said. “We try to help them transition so that they find the camp fun.”

More than anything else, Y Camp fosters a mutually beneficial relationship between the community and the School of Nursing.

“Nurses impact the individual campers each week with connections and physical help,” said Lincoln McLain, the associate executive director of YMCA Camp at Horsethief Reservoir. “But there’s something greater than that — the help and intentionality they provide to each camper is an investment into our community’s future.”