Sun Stroke Will Ruin a Fun Camp

by Camp's Chief Medical Officer
(Kentucky, USA)

For several years I was the chief medical officer at a camp in Kentucky.

When I saw this request for stories I instantly have flash back of the children in the camp over the years that suffered from sun stroke.

The camp entertained about 300 youth and adults each week for nine weeks.

I can remember 4 cases of confirmed sun stroke and several other cases of extreme heat exhaustion that could have been diagnosed as sun stroke but were border line enough that the tending physicians chose not to do this.

All cases of sun stroke are extremely serious and once a child has become a victim to it, camp of any sort is over for not only the week but the rest of the summer.

Except in very rare cases the victim of sun stroke is unable to move under their own power.

We would usually have to transport the youth to the medical lodge where we would strip them to their underwear and apply several cold compresses, during this process the child’s body went into seizure 100% of the time due to the shock in temperature change.

After the compresses we would use a hose from the shower unit and sprinkle them with the cold water only. Usually after about five minutes of the shower the child would be settled back down and extremely tired.

The next step was to place cold water soaked sheets over the child and then await the ambulance for transport to the hospital.

Once at the hospital the child rarely came back to camp we usually had to meet the parents at the hospital and in some cases the child would be discharged in the evening because of the extreme sensitivity that can develop to the sun after a sun stroke.

In all cases the tending physician made it absolutely clear that camp in any form was over for the rest of the summer.

I always reflect that if the child had taken the time to consume the water available at all locations in camp, and had listened to the advice given daily about heat exhaustion and stroke they would have enjoyed their camp a lot more.

It really is a self inflicted illness.

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