The Nurse Drought: Why Summer Camps Struggle to Find Nurses


Summer camps are beloved institutions where children and teenagers can explore new activities, make lasting friendships, and create cherished memories. However, in recent years, many summer camps have been facing a significant challenge - finding qualified nurses to staff their programs. The shortage of nurses has become a widespread issue across various industries, and summer camps are no exception. In this article, we explore the reasons behind the struggle to find nurses for summer camps and the potential implications it has on camper safety and well-being.

  1. Nursing Shortage: The primary factor contributing to the difficulty in finding nurses for summer camps is the overall nursing shortage. This shortage has been exacerbated by various factors, including an aging nursing workforce, increased demand for healthcare services, and limited nursing school capacity. As a result, nurses are in high demand in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare settings, making it challenging for summer camps to attract and hire them for seasonal positions.

  2. Limited Availability and High Cost: Nurses typically work in shifts and have demanding schedules, often making it difficult for them to commit to the entire duration of a summer camp program. Moreover, camps often struggle with budget constraints, as healthcare professionals, including nurses, command competitive salaries. Limited resources make it challenging for camps to offer attractive compensation packages to entice nurses to join their teams.

  3. Licensing and Certification Requirements: To ensure the safety and well-being of campers, most jurisdictions require summer camps to have registered nurses (RNs) or licensed practical nurses (LPNs) on staff. These healthcare professionals bring a level of expertise and training necessary to address medical emergencies, administer medications, and manage chronic conditions. The specific licensing and certification requirements for nurses to work in summer camps can vary by state or country, adding another layer of complexity to the hiring process.

  4. Seasonal and Non-Traditional Work: The temporary nature of summer camp positions may dissuade some nurses from considering these opportunities. Many healthcare professionals prefer stable, year-round employment with benefits and career advancement prospects. The prospect of working in a non-traditional setting with a limited timeframe may deter nurses from pursuing summer camp positions, contributing to the shortage.

  5. Increased Liability and Responsibility: Nurses hold a significant level of responsibility when it comes to the health and safety of campers. They must be prepared to handle various medical situations, including injuries, illnesses, and emergencies. The weight of this responsibility, combined with the potential for legal liability, may deter some nurses from taking on summer camp roles, especially if they lack prior experience in such settings.

Implications and Potential Solutions: The scarcity of nurses in summer camps can have serious implications for camper safety and well-being. Without adequate medical professionals, camps may need to limit activities, exclude campers with specific medical needs, or face potential legal repercussions. To address this challenge, summer camps can explore several potential solutions, such as partnering with local healthcare organizations, offering competitive compensation and benefits, providing additional training and support for nurses, and streamlining the licensing process for temporary summer camp employment.

Conclusion: The struggle to find qualified nurses for summer camps is a complex issue rooted in the broader nursing shortage. Summer camps play a crucial role in shaping the lives of young people, and it is vital to ensure their safety and well-being. By understanding the reasons behind the nurse shortage and exploring innovative solutions, camps can continue providing enriching experiences while prioritizing camper health and safety.