by Bobby Anderson, RN, Staff Writer
Swimming, water balloon fights, and telling stories around the campfire with friends are things most kids take for granted.
But for some kids with developmental disabilities, summer pleasures like these are just a dream.
That’s why for almost a decade now the J.D. McCarty Center for Children with Developmental Disabilities in Norman has been hosting an annual summer camp, known as Camp ClapHans onsite.
And the center needs nurses to make it happen.
Camp ClapHans Director Bobbie Hunter said the center is looking for volunteer day shift nurses for each of the first four weeks of camp. Those dates are June 5-8, June 12-15, June 19-22, and June 26-29.
Those interested can call Hunter directly at 405-307-2865 or visit www.jdmc.org for an application. (story continues below)
“We would want somebody who is pretty outgoing, fun, and doesn’t mind getting a little bit dirty while hanging out with the kids,” Hunter said. “We want our nurses to be just as involved as our camp staff. We’re always jumping on inflatables and playing in the water and stuff like that and the kids love it when the nurses get involved.”
Nurses ensure kids get their scheduled medications and take care of any first aid necessities. But most of all they are there to make sure the kids have memories that will last a lifetime.
“Our kids love the social aspect of that because they don’t get that enough in school,” Hunter said. “This is a great place for your kids to gain some confidence, and socialize with other kids who are like them. There are not a lot of camps built for kids of all abilities. There are sports camps that these kids watch their siblings go to but it’s a really great opportunity for our campers to come in and everything is adapted to them.
“It’s a place where they can do everything.”
Evening times are spent on the front porch with campers, staff, and nurses.
Christa Boren, LPN, knows that joy all too well.
Boren worked at J.D. McCarty Center in Norman for a number of years as a nurse and nurse manager. When the family business moved her away she thought she’d never get to work at the center for children with developmental disabilities again.
She was wrong.
Boren worked the evening and night shift nurse at Camp ClapHans for several years before her summer schedule got too full.
Horseback riding, movie nights, talent shows and dance parties are just some of the events offered at camp ClapHans.
Members of the University of Oklahoma football team have paid a visit throughout the years as well as various church groups.
“That allows our kids to interact with other kids who are age-appropriate,” Boren said. “Our kids get to really play with those kids and they’re not being judged. It also allows those kids from these groups to come out and interact with our kids and learn. Maybe next time they’re out and they see a wheelchair they’re not going to stare … because they are just kids.”
Camp ClapHans is a residential summer camp for kids with special needs ages eight to 18.
The camp is located on the south end of the McCarty Center’s 80-acre campus in Norman.
It features two cabins, a multi-purpose building and is built next to an 11-acre lake. The camp features summer camp activities like archery, canoeing, fishing, horseback riding, campfires, swimming, indoor and outdoor games, arts and crafts, and much more.
J.D. McCarty provides a one-to-one camper-to-staff ratio with a nurse on-site 24-hours a day.
That’s where nurses like Boren come in.
“The kids are amazing. We have a group of counselors every summer who are college students and they come out and they do this for free five weeks out of the summer and are an amazing group of kids,” Boren said.
When her husband opened a physical therapy clinic in Elk City Boren quit her job at J.D. McCarty and moved with her family.
Boren became a nurse at 20 and had worked in the hospital setting before settling into her role with J.D. McCarty.
“It’s absolutely amazing. I loved the fast-paced stuff but at times it does get a little overwhelming. In the acute-care settings in the hospitals you have to deal with all the sad stuff – giving people cancer diagnosis and all that stuff that comes with nursing,” Boren said. “Here at camp, we don’t have that at all. These kids love to be here. It’s so laid-back and we get to really enjoy the kids and try to make their time here as enjoyable as possible.”
“These kids would normally not get to do this at a regular camp.”
To join J.D. McCarty visit : https://www.jdmc.org/careers