The annual CG winter newsletter, The Camp Gray Gazette, hits newsstands (mailboxes!) this week! The Gazette is chock-full of fun and exciting CG updates. One particular piece of the Gazette, an article by former staffer Monica Herron, was so good, we’ve decided to also post it this week in lieu of a Tuesdays with Topher blog. Enjoy!
By: Monica Herron
Not everyone who has completed their Master’s degree as a physician assistant takes their first job after graduation at…a summer camp. Unlike the fifty other graduates of the Marquette Physician Assistant Class of 2011, I was the only one who had already spent three fantastic summers at Camp Gray, and there was nowhere else that I wanted to be for one last hurrah before starting my career. It was as a camp counselor that I took my first CPR and First Aid class, that I learned the ins-and-outs of Epi pens and inhalers, and most importantly, that I learned how to make a kid smile, even if they were sick or homesick. It’s not hard to smile at a place like Camp Gray, where fun abounds, in the pool or the Pav, with new friends or old, while laughing with a cabin group or finding a moment to connect with God in nature. I consider all of these experiences a part of my “training”, even as I actually lived at camp one summer during my formal training in family medicine and surgery. These particular clinical rotations included my first appendix removal and assisting for the first time at birth, all while being able to come home from work each day and play Capture The Flag. Not a bad day if you ask me.
It probably comes as no surprise to the campers and families that I’ve gotten to know over the years (and especially our wonderful camp nurses who have always been so supportive of me!) that I landed my first job as a physician assistant at a children’s hospital (The University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital). Even though my days are now filled with procedures rather than panda ball, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t use the skills I learned as a camp counselor in my current role. It turns out kids are just as scared of the hospital as they are of a dark cabin, that heart surgery is even more complicated to explain than the rules of CTF, and that parents and kids alike need healthcare providers who can comfort them in their sadness as well as cheer them on in their victories. Going into medicine has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life, and I am continually inspired by the courage and faith in the children and families I work with every day. I can say the same thing with confidence about my time on staff at Camp Gray. It is clear to me the tremendous and lasting impact that Camp Gray has had on me, both as a person and as a professional. I am certain that every other counselor feels the same way at the end of the summer, and no doubt, each camper as well. Combined, the total impact of a summer at Camp Gray is truly unimaginable, but nonetheless can be seen in small doses with each act of kindness and each moment of prayer inspired by something special that happened on these sacred grounds.
Monica was a part of the 2007 (settler/trailblazer counselor), 2008 (pathfinder counselor), and 2011 (LIT Coordinator) Summer Camp Staff at Camp Gray. Additionally, during Summer Camp 2010, Monica lived at Camp while serving at a clinic in Portage to receive formal training in family medicine and surgery.