Travel Nurse Finds Inspiration at Special Summer Camp
Roundup River Ranch, initially envisioned by actor Paul Newman, is a free summer camp for children with serious illnesses. With medical support from healthcare professionals, these children can try activities they’ve never done before, build their confidence, and make new friendships.
Medical Solutions, a proud contributor to this amazing program, has inspired several Travel Nurses to work at the Colorado-based camp. You can read more about Medical Solutions’ past involvement here.
This summer, three Travel Nurses have shared their journeys of self-discovery at Roundup River Ranch. Take a second to read about Kelli C., NRP, RN, and her incredible experience at the camp so far:
Thanks for taking the time to chat today, Kelli. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
“I am a Paramedic/RN. I am currently a flight nurse for Medical Air Rescue based in Rapid City, SD. I was a Travel Nurse from 2012 until June 2015. Medical Solutions has kept in contact with me since my departure from travel life, and thus, I found my way to Roundup River Ranch this summer. I couldn’t be more grateful for this experience. It was definitely God putting me right where I needed to be!”
What inspired you to work at Roundup River Ranch for the summer?
“This is my first summer at Roundup River Ranch. Honestly, what isn’t inspiring about this camp? After I submitted my application, I immediately went to their website. I fell in love with the kids and their stories.
I love working with kids, and unfortunately, I usually only get to see them in their most critical-life-threatening moments. I found myself smiling, and a little emotional as I browsed through the photo gallery, read testimonies, and reviews. I knew coming to Roundup River Ranch was exactly what I was looking for. The peace in my heart was overwhelming.”
How has your camp experience at Roundup River Ranch changed your personal and professional outlook? Would you say you’ve become a better nurse?
“No one can prepare you for your experience at Roundup River Ranch. For me it began as a struggle. I grew up in an alcohol and drug infested family, and lived half of my life on the reservation. Working in emergency medicine had also hardened my emotions and the ability to feel those emotions.
Camp training seemed very similar to what I would call “group therapy.” I was reluctant to participate, and noticed an uncomfortable anxiety in myself. For so many years, I had not allowed myself to feel — I have always been the person in control, strong-willed, and the one people come to for support. Honestly, I didn’t know if I could do what was being asked of me. I was in my panic zone and shed many tears multiple nights.
As I continued to stretch myself in the efforts of “caring and sharing,” I realized there is a difference between feeling and feelings, and how disconnected mine had become. I came to realize that It was OK to be human and to feel. I have always viewed vulnerability as weakness, but it’s the exact opposite. Vulnerability takes immense strength.
Once session was in full swing, it finally came full circle for me. I embraced camp! I found myself putting on tutus, random costumes on a daily basis, dancing, being silly, and just being a kid again. Before, I didn’t know if I could take care of the campers, and still interact with them, laugh with them, cry with them. Through the “magic of camp” and God’s grace, I was able to do all of the above.
The support from my co-workers and staff at Roundup River Ranch was over the top. It was also something that has been missing from my adult professional life. It grieves my heart that the field of medicine has a difficult time embracing such a culture. For me, Roundup River Ranch has been a place of healing, and because of this, I am evolving into a new person and a better care provider.”
What types of memories from this camp will you take back to your life as an RN? Which ones stand out as the most rewarding and why?
“I will take all of Roundup River Ranch with me and empower others. I have learned and improved in multiple realms of life. The kids and their stories will be my biggest memory. Their struggle in life is like the challenge course. They have a 40-foot rock wall and 300-foot zip line towering over them, whispering “You can’t.” They nervously put their helmets and harness on, quietly express fears, and cling tightly to staff. But then, the constant cheering and clapping gets them started, and their determination finishes it. Watching this process can only be expressed through shared tears and hugs.”
What would you tell other nurses about this camp and would you recommend going back?
“I would tell other nurses, deep down inside, our professional path can weigh heavily on our souls, whether we want to admit it or not. Sometimes, we need to be a part of the healing process. River Ranch Roundup is that place. It is the place of escape from all that drains our strength and puts us on a destructive path of compassion fatigue. If one lets it, Roundup River Ranch can help begin the process of rejuvenation. I would come back in a heartbeat! Like I mentioned above, the support and enthusiasm is intoxicating.”
What will you miss the most when camp is over?
“I will miss the kids! Their smiles, laughter, dancing, and care-free, no-worries attitudes are refreshing. Their innate strength to fight every day with a positive outlook despite the challenges dealt them is inspiring. I will also miss the supportive environment, staff, and co-workers. Roundup River Ranch wants you to be the best you can be. They meet you right where you are, and help you grow … it’s the magic of camp!”
Stay tuned all summer to read more about Medical Solutions’ Travel Nurses’ amazing stories at the Roundup River Ranch. You can also visit RoundupRiverRanch.org to learn more about this incredible summer camp experience.