The Blog of the West Wind

The Blog of the West Wind

Meet Kevin Wilcox, head nurse at Kabeyun boys summer camp

Friday, June 7, 2019/by Laura Remington/Go Back

Meet Kevin Wilcox, head nurse at Kabeyun boys summer camp

Every single Kabeyun camper and staff member knows Kevin Wilcox. As the head nurse of our boys summer camp, Kevin watches out for everyone’s health and safety. Kevin first came to Kabeyun in 1993 as a member of the swim staff. Over the years, he has worked on the waterfront, athletic fields, and as a Trips counselor. He also served as Head of Trips and spent many summers in the Panthers cabin. The breadth of Kevin’s Kabeyun experiences give him unique insights into keeping campers healthy and safe.The summer of 2019 will be Kevin’s third working in Kabeyun’s new health center and living in the adjacent nurse’s quarters with his family. This winter, Kevin spoke to Laura Remington about his role and the new facility.

Tell me about your current role at camp.
This will be my fifth summer as nurse. A lot of it is safety stuff, training the staff in the beginning of camp about what to look out for, how to handle certain situations. Before our kids come every session, we do a cabin-by-cabin breakdown, who’s got a food allergy, bee sting allergy, whatever it is. We don't detail who’s taking what drugs [due to HIPAA privacy rules], but we may say a kid has ADHD, just because it helps the counselor look at things from that perspective. With a younger kid, who may have trouble getting to the health center for his meds, they may know “Johnny takes meds,” but that’s all they’re going to know for the most part.

So they can make sure Johnny gets to the health center to take his medication?

What about when the session starts?
Camp is tough on skin. There's a lot of skin issues between running around and playing hard and bug bites, so the weekly health checks we do, they are pretty important. Each day, a couple of cabins come at rest hour. They have to shower first. They have to clip their nails and have their shoes off so I can check them out. Looking for lice, looking for obvious skin problems, cuts, scrapes, bug bites, anything that can get infected. And there's always a handful of kids who are nursing some kind of cut, laceration, or sprain, and that's the time to check things out.

Is this easier in the new health center?
Oh yeah. The redesign has changed the flow of how kids move through there, so I think that helps with privacy during those weekly checks. We're cycling kids through every day, 20 at a time or so. So they can stay on the porch while one kid comes in. There's two doors there, they can come in one door, out the other.

Sounds like it makes a big difference.
It's a huge difference. The [old infirmary] was adequate, but it was kind of dark and dingy and the new one is bright and airy. We have a private examination room. We have four bunks with a heater and air conditioning. An isolation room with a bathroom right there. There’s a shower for any situation where we need to have a kid bathe quickly. And laundry.  And there's a full nurses’ work station, which has a computer and counter, with cabinets and a sink and adequate storage for dressing supplies and things that go in Trips kits. We have amazingly organized space there and it’s much more accessible than it used to be.

Tell me more about the Trips kits.
There's a lot of communication and back and forth between the health center and the Trips staff. They give us the names of who’s going [on a trip] and we pack a first aid kit for every trip. If they have kids who have meds or have something like a cut or a sprained ankle, then [counselors] have to be able to manage that while they're in the field.

You know firsthand what that’s like, right?
Yeah. It’s helpful, I think, to have a nurse who has some perspective on the Trips program because when they’re out of camp, it's a different kind of thing. Safety is key.

Overall, do you think the new health center is helping keep kids healthier?
I think so. Just by the numbers alone. I was surprised last year when we had only two overnights [in the health center] and both were staff members. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but in most summers in the past, we would have easily a dozen, probably close to 20 kids spend a night in the health center. And last year, there were none.

From 12 or 20 down to zero? Wow!
Yes. Part of that could just be the way things shook out for the summer, but it's still pretty amazing.

So where do you work when you are not at camp?
I work at Lakes Region General Hospital as a telemetry nurse. [I care for] people who are on heart monitors for various reasons. You know, the little EKG's strips that you see on TV with the little blips? It’s critical care. People with pneumonia, blood infections, mini strokes, TIA's [transient ischaemic attacks], GI bleeds. It’s 12-hour shifts, usually nights, which I prefer.

Why do you prefer nights?
The daytime at a hospital can be very chaotic and frenetic. There's a lot more bodies and a lot more things happening. And then nighttime is more... it's not necessarily calm, but you have to think for yourself and problem-solve more because there's just not as many resources around.

And how about for fun? What do you like to do when you are not working?
I do a lot of camp-like activities. My family and I ski a lot. We hike, we fish. We climb – not as much as we used to – but we still climb and canoe.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

To learn about other outstanding staff members at our boys summer camp, click here. And you can read more about food, health and safety at Kabeyun here.

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