10 Pros and Cons of Being a Camp Nurse + Steps to Become + Salary

Written By: Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN

Being a camp nurse has its ups and downs, but what are the pros and cons of being a camp nurse? On the one hand, you get to see kids having the time of their lives; on the other hand, there are plenty of things that can go wrong. As a camp nurse, you will get to experience all the joys of camping - without having to pitch a tent yourself! But before you pack your first-aid kit and head off into the woods, here are some things to consider about life as a camp nurse. Here are the top 10 pros and cons of being a camp nurse so you can decide if this is a line of work you could see yourself getting into.


What Does A Camp Nurse Do?

So, what does a camp nurse do? Well, let me tell you. As a camp nurse, you are responsible for the health and safety of all the campers. This includes everything from checking for infections, tending to injuries, ensuring the first-aid kit on hand, and knowing how to use it. Another one of a camp nurse’s duties will include administering medication to any camper that may require it. They also help keep track of the health records of all the campers and staff, so that if anyone gets sick or injured, the camp staff can take the appropriate action.

In addition to all that, camp nurses also often lead health and wellness workshops for the campers and staff. This can include teaching them about good nutrition, staying active, and dealing with stress. As a camp nurse, you may also give presentations on specific health topics, such as drug and alcohol abuse or preventing injuries.

Where Does A Camp Nurse Work?

You will find camp nurses working in a variety of settings, but the most common place to find them is in summer camps or school break camps. Some other camps that you may find camp nurses working in include church camps, dance camps, or sports camps. You will find a camp nurse working with kids who are away from home at sleep-away camp for the first time.

Some of the camps that a camp nurse will work in can be for specific age groups and others for special needs children. Other camps that will have a camp nurse working in are camps that are for those will certain illnesses such as diabetes or HIV.

The camps that camp nurses work in can be in all different settings. Some may be in the city, while are others are in the country. You may find these camps at the beach or in the mountains. You will basically find camps and camp nurses in any terrain. There will be a camp nurse on staff no matter where the camp is located.

What Are The Typical Working Hours Of A Camp Nurse?

As a camp nurse, your typical work hours will depend on the type of camp that you work in. Typically, as a camp nurse, you will work 8-10 hours per day, with some camps having nurses work a 12-hour shift. Your schedule will also vary depending on the time of year, with the summer being the busiest time for camp nurses. During the summer you can expect to work weekends and sometimes holidays as well. Nurses in camps typically have a one-week break between camps if they work multiple sessions.

What Are The Important Skills Required To Work As A Camp Nurse?

Camp nurses play an essential role in the health and safety of campers and staff. Camp nurses provide care for ill or injured children and work to prevent illness and injury from occurring. To become a camp nurse, you will need critical thinking skills, assessment skills, decision-making capabilities, problem-solving capabilities, and leadership skills. You should also be comfortable working with children and be able to handle emergency situations.

Becoming a camp nurse also means that you will also need to effectively communicate with both children and adults. It is also essential for you to be comfortable working in a team environment. Camp nurses must be able to work independently as well when needed. Finally, it is also important to have a strong knowledge of first aid and CPR.

How Much Does a Camp Nurse Make?

Most jobs will have you earning a higher salary with the more experience you have. Being a camp nurse is no different. The average camp nurse's salary is around $90,333 a year. That means you can expect to earn a monthly income of $7,530 a month of $43.43 an hour. Let’s dive into this a bit more.

The starting salary of a camp nurse will be around $62,160 a year. This means that if you are new to this career, you can expect to earn approximately $29.88 an hour or $5,180 a month.

Once you have been on the job anywhere from 1-4 years, you can expect to earn an hourly wage of $32.53 an hour or $5,640. This will shake out to be around $67,670 a year.

The average camp nurse salary per hour for those working in this field for anywhere between 5-9 years is $39.63 an hour. This hourly wage will equate to $6,870 a month or $82,430 a year.

The average camp nurse salary for those who have worked between 10-19 years is around $102,600 or $49.33 an hour. This means you will be earning $8,550 a month. Once you have gained 20 or more years of experience, you can expect to make six figures. You will be earning $63.13 an hour or $10,940 a month, which will equate to $131,320 a year.

Level of Experience Hourly Monthly Annual
Entry-Level $29.88 $5,180 $62,160
1-4 Years of Experience $32.53 $5,640 $67,670
5-9 Years of Experience $39.63 $6,870 $82,430
10-19 Years of Experience $49.33 $8,550 $102,600
20 Years or More Experience $63.13 $10,940 $131,320
Average Salary $43.43 $7,530 $90,333

Is There A Demand For Camp Nurses?

There is definitely a demand for camp nurses. Many camps are constantly searching for qualified professionals to fill this role. The main reason for this is that camp nurses play a vital role in ensuring the safety and well-being of campers. Camp nurses are responsible for providing medical care and educating campers about health and safety issues.

There are three main reasons why camp nurses are in demand:

Firstly, the number of children attending summer camps is increasing every year. This means that there is a greater need for qualified medical professionals.

Secondly, the nature of summer camps is changing. They are no longer just for kids who want to have fun; they are also for kids who want to learn new things. This means that there is a greater demand for camp nurses who are qualified to provide medical care since the number of camps are increasing.

Finally, the number of health and safety regulations that camps must adhere to is growing. This means that camp directors are more likely to hire more camp nurses who have experience in order to comply with these regulations.

5 Steps To Becoming A Camp Nurse

1. The first step to becoming a camp nurse is that you must first earn a degree in nursing. The associate’s degree in nursing or the bachelor’s degree in nursing are acceptable. Each camp will designate which type of degree will be required for employment.

2. The next step to becoming a camp nurse is to successfully pass the Nurse Certification Licensure Exam (NCLEX) in the state you plan to practice in.

3. You will need to apply for your state nursing license once you pass the NCLEX.

4. Then, you will also need to complete and maintain a current Adult and Pediatric CPR certification.

5. Finally, you will also need to complete and maintain a first aid certification.


(The following are the top 10 disadvantages of being a Camp Nurse.)

1. You may have inconsistent employment.

One of the top disadvantages of being a camp nurse is the inconsistency of employment. Many camp nurses may only work for a few weeks or months out of the year and then be out of a job again. This can make it challenging to maintain a consistent income and also makes it hard to plan long-term goals. Nursing is often a demanding career, so having this inconsistency in work can also be frustrating.

2. You may encounter emergencies without the needed resources.

One of the biggest disadvantages of being a camp nurse is that you may need to care for campers or staff in an emergency situation. However, this also means that you may not have the right resources available to you to tend to this emergency. Not having the right resources can mean the difference between life and death for a camper or staff member. Knowing how to handle these situations is critical and being prepared for any emergency is essential.

3. You may have to weather the elements.

As a camp nurse, you will have to be able to work in all types of weather. You may have to deal with extreme cold, heat, rain, or wind to name a few. Being prepared for all kinds of weather is essential for this job. Sometimes the weather can be not so forgiving.

4. You will have a lot of paperwork to complete

When you work as a camp nurse, there are a lot of forms and paperwork that you will need to complete and keep track of. This can include everything from camper and staff physical forms and insurance claim forms. You will also need to maintain all health records and immunization status from campers and staff.

5. You better hope there is not an outbreak of sickness.

A camp nurse is someone who needs to be prepared for anything. If an outbreak of sickness occurs, the camp nurse will need to be the one to handle it. This can include anything from a simple cold to a more severe illness. You can run the risk of becoming ill yourself if you are not careful, so it is crucial to be prepared for anything. You also run the risk of bringing any illness home to your family.

6. Let’s hope the camp you are working at has an air conditioner.

One of the cons of becoming a camp nurse may be the summer months. A camp nurse who works in the summer runs the risk of not having air-conditioning in your work and living space. Of course, this can vary depending on the camp, but those work areas and cabins that are not air-conditioned can get pretty hot. This definitely makes the summer days more challenging. It can be pretty hot and humid inside the nurse's station or in your living quarters.

7. I got two words, Bug Bites.

You may have to endure bug bites from ticks, mosquitoes, spiders, and other critters as a camp nurse. While most bug bites are harmless, some can cause an infection or allergic reaction. Ticks are one of the most common carriers of disease. They can transmit Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and other illnesses. Mosquitoes can carry the West Nile virus, malaria, and other conditions. Spiders can cause infections if their venom is injected into the skin.

8. There is no such thing as a patient ratio as a camp nurse

One of the disadvantages of being a camp nurse is that you do not have nurse-patient ratios that you would in the healthcare setting. This means that you can be responsible for the care of many campers and staff members at one time. This could be a daunting task and is a tremendous responsibility. I hope you can keep everybody straight.

9. You may be woken up in the middle of the night.

Another one of the disadvantages of being a camp nurse is that you may be woken up in the middle of the night by campers or staff members who need you. This can be disruptive to your sleep schedule, and it can also be frustrating if you are trying to get some rest. However, you must always be available to help campers and staff members who need you, so make sure you are prepared for this possibility. Can you even imagine being woken up in the middle of the night multiple times and multiple times a week? I am already tired thinking about it.

10. You will have to call parents when their child is sick or injured.

As the camp nurse, you will find that it will be your duty to call the parents of any camper that becomes ill or injured. You may find that some parents are hesitant to come and pick up their children, especially if they are feeling guilty about sending them away in the first place. Other parents will likely blame you or the camp for their child's injury or illness.


(The following are the top 10 advantages of being a Camp Nurse.)

1. You will earn an excellent salary.

One of the top pros of being a camp nurse is the excellent salary you will earn. This is a well-paying profession that comes with many benefits. The average salary for a camp nurse is $90,333. You can do amazing things and enjoy a high quality of life with your income you will earn as a camp nurse. You will be able to afford all the things you need and want without worrying about money. Plus, you will have plenty of savings to fall back on.

2. You can work in some beautiful settings.

As a camp nurse, you can work in some pretty beautiful settings. Whether it is a pristine mountaintop or a sun-drenched lakeside, you will get to enjoy some pretty amazing views while you work. And if that is not enough, you will also get to spend your days surrounded by happy, healthy kids! So, suppose you are looking for an opportunity to work in a beautiful location. In that case, camp nursing might just be the perfect job for you.

3. You get to work in a happy and fun environment.

One of the pros of being a camp nurse is getting to work in a happy and fun environment. Camps are typically filled with excited kids who are just waiting to have a good time. This makes for an enjoyable work atmosphere where everyone is eager to participate and get along.

4. You will be a role model.

As a camp nurse, you will be viewed as a role model. You will have many of the children who want to be just like you. As a camp nurse, you have the power to change lives for the better. You can make a difference in a child's life and set an example for them to follow. As a camp nurse, you will be someone that the children can look up to. Remember, you are not only a camp nurse, but you are also a role model. Make sure to set a positive example for the children and show them what it means to be compassionate and caring.

5. Your living expenses will be included.

Another one of the pros of being a camp nurse if you work in a sleep-away camp is that your living expenses will be included. This is an excellent perk since it can be costly to live in a remote area where the camp is located. This means that you can focus on your work without worrying about finances and enjoy your time at camp with the campers. You will have housing and food taken care of for you. This is a great benefit that can make your summer a lot more fun.

6. You can enjoy some perks to the job.

As a camp nurse, you will also get a few perks to the job. Some of these will be free laundry and internet. Some of the other more fun perks to the job will include a pool, games, and other activities. These are just a few of the many perks of being a camp nurse. Make sure to check out the camp website or call to see what other benefits are offered. You may be surprised at how much they offer!

7. You will not have to work the night shift.

Although you may occasionally be woken up by campers at night, one of the biggest advantages of being a camp nurse is that you do not have to work the night shift! This gives you plenty of time during the day to enjoy all the fun activities camp has to offer. Plus, you will be well-rested for when campers start waking up early in the morning. So, if you are looking for a summer job with a flexible schedule, being a camp nurse is it.

8. You may not have to work weekends

As a camp nurse, you may not have to work weekends if you work at specific camps that are not in session on the weekends. Not having to work on the weekends will allow you plenty of time to rest and relax. This can be an excellent opportunity to recharge your batteries before the next week of work. Additionally, you will not have to worry about traveling on the weekends, which can often be very busy.

9. You may get a discount on the camp

One of the advantages of being a camp nurse is that you may get discounted or free camp tuition if you have children that will attend the camp you work at. This is an excellent opportunity to spend time with your children while also working. It can be a lot of fun for them to get to know the other kids in camp and spend time with you at the same time. This is a great way to save money on camp, too!

10. You will get to watch the campers grow

One of the best parts about being a camp nurse is getting to see the campers grow each year. You get to watch them learn new things and make new friends. It is really amazing to see how much they change throughout the summer. Being a part of their growth is really rewarding, and it makes the summer that much more special.


What Is The Starting Salary Of A Camp Nurse?

The starting salary for a camp nurse is around $62,160 a year. This means that you will be earning $1,195 weekly, which will be approximately $29.88 an hour or a monthly salary of $5,180. So, even if this does not seem like your ideal salary, keep in mind that you will have great earning potential with experience.

Weekly $1,195

What Is The Average Salary Of A Camp Nurse?

The average salary for a camp nurse is $43.43 an hour or $1,737 a week. This means that you will be earning a monthly salary of $7,530, which will work out to $90,333 a year. That is definitely not too shabby.

Weekly $1,737

Camp Nurse Salary By State

When it comes to the salaries that camp nurses make, you will see that there is a difference in your earning potential based upon where you work. For example, if you work in California, you will be earning $135,320 a year, and in Alabama, you will be making $67,900 a year. This is quite a difference in salary for essentially the same job.

State Hourly Monthly Annual
Alabama $32.64 $5,660 $67,900
Alaska $50.41 $8,740 $104,850
Arizona $42.32 $7,340 $88,030
Arkansas $32.46 $5,630 $67,520
California $65.06 $11,280 $135,320
Colorado $42.25 $7,320 $87,880
Connecticut $45.99 $7,970 $95,660
Delaware $41.48 $7,190 $86,280
Florida $38.99 $6,760 $81,100
Georgia $41.56 $7,200 $86,450
Hawaii $55.24 $9,580 $114,900
Idaho $38.36 $6,650 $79,780
Illinois $40.12 $6,950 $83,440
Indiana $36.88 $6,390 $76,700
Iowa $33.85 $5,870 $70,400
Kansas $35.13 $6,090 $73,060
Kentucky $37.87 $6,560 $78,770
Louisiana $37.04 $6,420 $77,050
Maine $37.77 $6,550 $78,560
Maryland $42.93 $7,440 $89,300
Massachusetts $50.82 $8,810 $105,700
Michigan $39.36 $6,820 $81,860
Minnesota $43.36 $7,520 $90,180
Mississippi $33.14 $5,750 $68,940
Missouri $35.06 $6,080 $72,930
Montana $38.23 $6,630 $79,510
Nebraska $35.87 $6,220 $74,600
Nevada $46.99 $8,150 $97,740
New Hampshire $40.70 $7,060 $84,660
New Jersey $47.17 $8,180 $98,110
New Mexico $41.75 $7,240 $86,850
New York $48.86 $8,470 $101,620
North Carolina $37.77 $6,550 $78,570
North Dakota $36.59 $6,340 $76,110
Ohio $38.28 $6,640 $79,620
Oklahoma $37.53 $6,510 $78,060
Oregon $52.01 $9,020 $108,190
Pennsylvania $39.34 $6,820 $81,830
Rhode Island $43.06 $7,460 $89,560
South Carolina $36.26 $6,290 $75,430
South Dakota $31.47 $5,460 $65,460
Tennessee $35.37 $6,130 $73,560
Texas $41.14 $7,130 $85,570
Utah $37.28 $6,460 $77,540
Vermont $39.03 $6,770 $81,180
Virginia $39.94 $6,920 $83,080
Washington $49.61 $8,600 $103,180
West Virginia $35.24 $6,110 $73,300
Wisconsin $39.52 $6,850 $82,200
Wyoming $39.52 $6,850 $82,210


What Are The 10 Highest Paying States For Camp Nurses?

The 10 highest paying states for camp nurses are listed below. California is the highest-paid state where you can earn a whopping $135,320 a year. Hawaii is not far behind California and will have you earning $114,900 a year. Massachusetts, Oregon, Alaska, Washington and New York will have you earning a salary in the $100,000 a year range. The last two states in the top 10 highest paying states for camp nurses are Nevada and Connecticut. Now, these two states will have you earning a salary in the higher $95,000 range a year which is not too shabby.

Rank State Average
Annual Salary
1 California $135,320
2 Hawaii $114,900
3 Oregon $108,190
4 Massachusetts $105,700
5 Alaska $104,850
6 Washington $103,180
7 New York $101,620
8 New Jersey $98,110
9 Nevada $97,740
10 Connecticut $95,660

What Are The 10 Highest Paying Metros For Camp Nurses?

Since California is the highest paying state for camp nurses, naturally, it will have the highest-paid metros. These metros listed below will have you earning a salary anywhere between $128,300 to $167,210 a year. That is pretty nice. You will be earning more than some nurses who work in the hospital setting.

Rank Metro Average
Annual Salary
1 San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA $167,210
2 San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA $162,400
3 Vallejo-Fairfield, CA $160,690
4 Santa Rosa, CA $153,400
5 Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA $151,980
6 Napa, CA $148,580
7 Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA $147,390
8 Modesto, CA $140,570
9 Stockton-Lodi, CA $132,310
10 Chico, CA $128,300

Top Organizations And Associations For Camp Nurses

Association of Camp Nursing: The Association of Camp Nursing is an excellent resource in order to guide you on everything about being a camp nurse. This site is jam-packed with educational resources that will help guide you in your practice. You will also find the scope and standards of camp nursing practice here, which will ensure that you deliver safe and effective care to your campers.

American Nurses Association: The American Nurse Association will provide you with all the resources you will need to excel in being a nurse. Here you will find important information on certification, education, and events. Suppose you are looking to advance your career. In that case, the American Nurse Association can provide you with the resources you will need to reach this goal.

My Final Thoughts

So, is being a camp nurse really all it is cracked up to be? It is not all sunshine and rainbows, but it can be a rewarding experience. As you can see, there are pros and cons of being a camp nurse. Still, overall, it is a gratifying experience. If you can handle the heat (literally and figuratively), then this might be the perfect summer job for you. The top 10 pros and cons of being a camp nurse that I have just presented to you will definitely help you decide if this is a career worth pursuing.


1. Is Camp Nursing A Good Career?

Yes, being a camp nurse is a promising career. Not only do you make an excellent salary with additional perks, but you will also get to spend your time in the great outdoors. A camp nurse is a unique type of nursing job that is rewarding and fulfilling.

2. On Average, How Much Does A Camp Nurse Make Per Hour?

On average, you can expect to earn $43.43 an hour as a camp nurse. Making this amount of money an hour is actually a pretty good salary that will allow you to live an extraordinary life. You will be able to pay your bills and still have some money set aside for fun activities.


3. How Many Hours Does A Camp Nurse Work?

As a camp nurse, you typically work some sort of combination of a 40-hour workweek. Depending on the camp that you work in and the number of nurses they have on staff, will dictate the flexibility of your schedule. You may end up working 8-to-12-hour days a week. You may also find that you may work during the week, on the weekends, or some combination of the two.

4. Is Being A Camp Nurse Stressful?

Being a camp nurse can be stressful at times. The sources of this stress can come from your workload, or it can come from having a suddenly very sick camper. You may find tension in the fact that you will have to balance your work and family life. Stress should not make you shy away from the job because, in the end, any job you have will bring you stress at one time or another.

5. Do I Need To Be Certified To Work As A Camp Nurse?

You do not need to be certified to be a camp nurse. There is no specific certification that you could earn as a camp nurse. What you do need to successfully pass the NCLEX.

6. What Certifications Are Required Or Recommended For A Camp Nurse?

If you do feel that you want to earn your certification as a camp nurse, you could become certified as a pediatric nurse. Other certifications that you will be required to earn will be CPR and first aid for healthcare providers. You can take your certifications a step further and earn your pediatric advanced life support certification (PALS) or your adult cardiovascular life support certification (ACLS)

7. How Long Does It Take To Become A Camp Nurse?

The length of time to become a camp nurse will depend on which degree you plan on earning. If you plan on earning your associate’s degree in nursing, you will be looking at two years to earn your degree. If you are looking at earning your bachelor’s degree in nursing, then you are looking at earning this degree in about four years.

8. How Much Does It Cost To Become A Camp Nurse?

The cost of becoming a camp nurse will depend on a few things. The type of degree you plan to earn is the most essential fact. If you plan on pursuing an associate's degree in nursing, then you need to decide if you wish to go to a private school or a public. A public College will cost you anywhere from $6,000-$40,000, whereas a private college will cost you anywhere from $30,000-$100,000. Now, if you plan on earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing, you can expect to spend around $40,000 for a public school and anywhere from $80,000 to $250,000 for a private school. Regardless of the path of education you choose, you will need to pay $200.00 to take the NCLEX exam. After you pass, you will need to pay for your application fees for your license. This will be state-dependent.

9. What Is It Like To Be A Summer Camp Nurse?

Being a camp nurse is an exciting and unique experience. You will get to enjoy the outdoors all the while watching kids have the time of their lives. Being a camp nurse is one of the more enjoyable careers in nursing that are out there.

10. What Are The 10 Things Every Camp Nurse Needs To Have When You Go Camping?

1. A copy of your license
2. A copy of your CPR card
3. A copy of your CPR algorithms
4. A copy of your first aid card
5. A copy of your work contract
6. Your trusty stethoscope
7. A penlight
8. A bag that you can keep your supplies in when out in about in the camp should your skills be needed.
9. A pad to write notes on, such as your assessment findings
10. A good supply of pens

11. Can A Camp Nurse Administer Medication?

Yes, a camp nurse can administer medication to the campers if it is ordered by a healthcare provider who is able to prescribe medications. A camp nurse is also able to administer medications if the camper comes to camp with an already active prescription, such as with asthma medications.

12. Do I Need A License To Be A Camp Nurse In Another State?

In order to be a camp nurse in another state than the one you currently are licensed in, you will need to apply for a license for the state the camp is in. May states will have reciprocity of your license. This means that you can obtain your license without having to retest. You just need to apply.

13. What Is The Typical Time Frame Of A Camp Nurse Assignment?

The typical time frame for a camp nurses’ assignment will depend on the type of camp they are in. Working at a winter break camp, your assignment may only be weeklong. If you are working at a summer camp, well then you will be working all summer long.

14. What Kind Of Career Advancement Opportunities Are There For Camp Nurses?

As a camp nurse, you can advance your career through earning different certifications, such as becoming certified in pediatrics. You can also advance your degree by earning a master’s degree in Nursing. You can become a nurse practitioner and then take your camp nursing game to a whole other level.

Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN
Jennifer Schlette is a registered nurse in pediatric critical care in New York City. She is the former Director of Undergraduate Nursing at a college located in New York. After obtaining her BSN from the College of Mount Saint Vincent, she went on to complete her MSN.