January 2022

camp nurses and doctors

Some of the most common New Year’s resolutions have to do with improved physical, mental and spiritual health.  We often talk about healthy eating, increased exercise, taking time for meaningful reflection, and connecting with family and friends.  As we welcome 2022, the Capital Camps team is likewise focused on ways to enhance our ability to foster wellness. 

We have created two new year-round positions; a Clinical Care Coordinator and a Community Care Coordinator.  Em Candaffio, who has been part of our summer health team for several years, will be our new Clinical Care Coordinator.  She will be working with families to strengthen communications about physical health and medications prior to the start of camp.  Em will oversee the process of collecting updated health forms, guide families through the process to arrange for campers to receive prescriptions and over-the-counter medications while at camp and help recruit additional nurses and doctors. We will be working with a new pharmacy, PackMyRx, and Em will also help integrate PackMyRx into our camp medical program. The great Jewish scholar, Moses Maimonides, wrote that “when keeping the body in health and vigor, one walks in the way of God”.  Having a Clinical Care Coordinator will strengthen our ability to foster physical wellness. 

We are also proud to announce that we have been selected to be part of the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s (FJC) Yedid Nefesh initiative on mental health.  Yedid Nefesh means “beloved soul” and is also the song that some congregations sing just before the Kabbalat Shabbat service on Friday nights.  This song imagines that as we usher in Shabbat we are also opening ourselves, body and soul, to being uplifted and healed.  As part of this initiative we will be joining a cohort of camp professionals working to address increased mental health needs.  Being part of this initiative means that we’ll be receiving a grant from FJC to help fund a year-round mental health professional, as well as supporting additional summer staff training. We are looking forward to adding a Community Care Coordinator to our team of seasonal Yoetzot (parent liaisons). Our Yoetzot are licensed social workers, therapists, clinical psychologists, school guidance counselors, and experienced educators.  Our nurses and doctors focus on the physical health of our campers and staff, and our Community Care team focuses on social, emotional, and mental health.

The term MESH — Mental, Emotional, and Social Health — was coined by the Association of Camp Nursing and is widely used by the American Camp Association.  Jewish camps, in recognition of the importance of Spiritual health, have added an “S” to create the term MESSH. Our commitment to MESSH is both our New Year resolution and an example of our uniquely Jewish approach which incorporates values and mitzvot into all that we do.  One way we focus on spiritual health is through our annual participation in FJC’s Cornerstone Fellowship program.  Three to five outstanding staff members are selected to take on additional responsibilities at camp as role models and mentors. The focus of the Fellowship is the true blend of Jewish values and concepts into camp programming – at the staff level, in the general camp program, and in bunk-based programs.  We have already begun accepting applications for our 2022 Cornerstone Fellows.  

Jewish tradition calls the mitzvah of health, Sh’mirot haguf which means “guarding the body”.   This mitzvah is generally understood as taking care of both the body and the soul. At Capital Camps we have always been committed to supporting physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual health.  We enter 2022 with a renewed commitment.  Our ability to foster individual growth and build strong Jewish community demand this focus.