Perspectives on Christian Science Camp Nursing from a Christian Science Camp Practitioner

By: Pam McKnight

On my first day as a brand new Christian Science camp practitioner I saw the seasoned Christian Science nurse handing a plastic waterproof bag full of bandages, gauze and assorted wraps to a camp counselor.  She said, “Here is the ‘Second Aid Kit’ for the craft room.”  It was the first time I had ever heard what was certainly a “First Aid Kit” to any other person, being called a “Second Aid Kit!”  It was a revealing moment.  From that one little phrase I could see that for all the wonderful practical help the Christian Science nurse was going to provide at camp, she (and the camp staff) clearly felt that true “First Aid” was turning to God at the moment of need.  The Christian Science nurses I have worked with at camp since that first day have all expressed a pure understanding of the power and presence of God as the true healing agent.

At the Christian Science camp where I have been privileged to serve there can be as many as 150 campers and counselors on campus at once, all engaged in a variety of ACTIVE outdoor and indoor activities.  From the littlest first time camper who has a “boo boo,”  to injuries of a seemingly more serious nature to the older campers, the camp nurse has to be prepared to handle a wide variety of situations.  And it has been a privilege to watch them at work.

Many people may think that the Christian Science nurse tends to the physical aspect of the problem, and the prayer part is turned over to the practitioner.

But here’s how it really plays out!  A camper comes to the office a little frightened and usually in some degree of pain.  With a loving hug and a smile, the Christian Science nurse expresses a tender truth that immediately begins to lessen the fear.  As she washes and bandages the camper, her calm and joyful attitude has already taken the “sting” out of whatever has occurred.  By the time the camper is handed over to the practitioner for metaphysical support, the healing is well underway.  The nurse’s practical reflection of the tender Father/Mother love is a mighty healing power.

Among the claims that I have seen met with the nurse’s help are:  poison ivy, pink eye, sprained ankles, a severely over-extended elbow, a camper being hit by lightning, and an almost infinite variety of cuts, bruises, blisters, bug bites, and scrapes.

There are times when the nurse and the practitioner have to work together over a more extended period of time.  These instances have been wonderful times of working together with God to demonstrate practical healing Christian Science.  That same first summer, a counselor had an accident off campus.  She took a nasty spill on a water board, and all indications were that she had seriously damaged her knee.  She requested to be brought back to camp to the nurse/practitioner office for help.  The nurse wrapped the young woman’s leg extensively and I began vigorous prayerful treatment declaring the impossibility of accidents in a universe governed by God, and man’s exemption from danger of any kind.  In any so-called serious incident the parents are called and the camper or counselor is taken home until the healing is complete.  In this instance the parents couldn’t arrive at camp until two days later.  For the next 48 hours the Christian Science nurse and I worked together around the clock to keep her physically comfortable.  This involved helping her use the bathroom as well as frequent re-wrapping of her leg.  Although initially in obvious pain, this precious counselor wanted to completely rely on Christian Science for treatment.  Often as the nurse was working on wrapping the leg, the young woman and I would be declaring out loud a Bible verse or citation from Science and Health.  It felt like a very holy time.  When her parents arrived it was evident to both the nurse and me that remarkable progress had taken place.  This proved to be the case.  Much to the joy of the friends who witnessed her accident, this counselor was able to return to camp three weeks later completely healed.

A camp setting provides a unique opportunity for a Christian Science nurse and a Christian Science practitioner to work together as a team.  It has been my honor and privilege to work with these nurses.  I have learned much from them all.