A special thanks to our Research Partner Camp Doc!

Fatigue Study Findings


Camp Health Research Initiatives

ACN Research is robust and rigorous. As camp healthcare providers we are among the masters of improvisation, those creative with a Band-Aid and marker, those who tolerate extremes of heat and cold. Yet sometimes there is a question, problem, or new program that begs to be studied in some depth. This is camp nursing research. Through this research, camp nurses utilize evidence (from the current literature) to guide their practice and make client care decisions. By incorporating research-informed practices, camp nurses can enrich their clinical experience and training.

Current and past studies on camp health provide the information needed to continue developing the profession of camp health. Collaboration between the Association of Camp Nursing, universities, funding agencies and industry partners is foundational to these evidence based research studies.

Active Research Projects

Impact of COVID-19 on Camp Operations Summer 2021

Start Date: August 2021

Barry Garst | Tracey Gaslin Project Leads

ACN is actively involved in  COVID-19 research to help identify the key features of operation from summer 2021.  While COVID research was done following summer 2020, there is additional information to learn as we navigate the ongoing impact of coronavirus.  ACN is conducting qualitative interviews, conducting quantitative surveys and doing a retrospective review of health records from camps across the US.  A special thank you to CampDoc for their partnership in this effort and an interest in improving the lives of those we serve.

Fatigue Study

Workplace Fatigue Within Summer Camp

ACN is conducting an ongoing research project to better understand camp-related fatigue.

Phase 2 of the project (Fall of 2019) gathered information from camp health care providers and directors via a national survey to better understand causes and predictors of workplace fatigue in camps, as well as strategies used to address fatigue.  Findings from this study will be presented at the 2022 American Camp Association’s Research Forum.”

Phase 1 (completed prior to the spring of 2018) of the project  gathered information from focus groups of camp nurses and directors  to better understand how fatigue is conceptualize and experienced in camp settings, as well as strategies for managing fatigue. See the link to the infographic with Fatigue Study to the left.

Read the abstract below published in the Journal of Experiential Education

Workplace Fatigue Within Summer Camp: Perspectives From Camp Health Care Providers and Directors (August 2019)

Camp Medication Management

ACN is currently partnering with CampDoc and researchers from Michigan Medicine to better understand the landscape of medications administered in camps nationally. 

Mental, Emotional, and Social Health (MESH) within Camp

We have navigated a national pandemic landscape for two years and we are aware of the significant impact on youth and adolescents.  This event has created isolation, anxiety, and trauma requiring escalated effort towards prevention, intervention, and support activities at camp.  ACN continues to research and provide new and ongoing MESH resources for camp facilities and community-based settings. 

Camp Nursing Clinical Decision-Making

ACN Seed Grant:  Hope Steger

Start date December 2019

Purpose: There are no standard protocols to guide camp nurses in deciding when to seek offsite medical intervention for non-emergency medical conditions adn it is unknown how camp nurses make these types of decisions. This explanatory sequential mixed methods study aims to gain information on when, where, and why camp nurses decide when to seek offsite medical intervention for non-emergency medical conditions, including how camp nurses 1) understand the ACN scope of practice standards; 2) incorporate ACA suggestions into a decision to seek offsite medical intervention for their non-emergent patients; and 3) negotiate challenges associated with seeking offsite medical intervention for non-emergent care. The results of this study will fill a significant gap in the literature on this area of nursing specialty and guide the development of interventions designed to improve decision-making processes by camp nurses.

Nurse Self Care

ACN Seed Grant:  Tracy Martinek and Mary Tobin

Start date July 2018

Purpose: It can be assumed that camp nurses should be giving themselves as much care as they give their campers. Improper personal care may marginalize care of campers and staff. When camp nurses do not receive proper care it may also increase the risk of injury or worse yet lead to medical errors. According to the ANA Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation, common ways nurses fail to care for themselves is through a lack of sleep, improper diet, and less than adequate exercise. These self-care concepts must be studied however in diverse nurse practice settings to explore programmatic and practice differences. There is especially a gap in the literature with regards to how these self-care practices relate to the practice of camp nursing.  The purpose of this study is to use a qualitative exploratory approach by using storytelling of camp nurse experiences in Iowa.  The research will visit with camp nurses at residential camps and learn about the lived experience of the camp nurse and their self-care measures.

Past Research Projects
Impact of COVID-19 on Camp Operations Summer 2020

Gaslin, T., Marugg, M., Waterhouse, K., Garst, B., & White, D. (2021). ACN research brief: Prevalence of COVID-19 in camps in summer 2021. Association of Camp Nursing. Report to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gaslin, T. & Garst, B. (2021). Promoting community health through use of nonpharmaceutical interventions. Campline. American Camp Association. 

Garst, B., Dubin, A., & Gaslin, T. (In Press). NPI utilization and other health-promoting strategies applied by camps following the onset of COVID-19. Child: Care, Health, and Development.

Immunization Requirements, Policies, and Practices in Camps

Garst, B., Dubin, A., Bunke, C., Schellpfeffer, N., Gaslin, T., Ambrose, M., & Hashikawa, A. (2021). Barriers impacting organizational immunization policy implementation in U.S. and Canadian summer camps. Children’s Health Care, 50(2), 207-219. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02739615.2020.1870118

Bunke, C., Schellpfeffer, N., Garst, B., Bradin, S., Gaslin, T., Ambrose, M., & Hashikawa, A. (2021). A survey of camp leadership to assess immunization requirements, policies, and current practices in a national cohort of summer camps. JAMA Pediatrics, 421-423. https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article-abstract/147/3_MeetingAbstract/209/5059/A-Survey-of-Camp-Leadership-to-Assess-Immunization?redirectedFrom=fulltext

Anaphylaxis Study

May 2016

ACN participated in an Anaphylaxis study in conjunction with Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Ohio State University initiated in May 2016. Camp nurses provided feedback regarding anaphylaxis in the camp setting allowing us to better understand the implications of care and identify measures to address safety.

Study Findings

Food Allergy Prevalence and Management in an Overnight Summer Camp

Anaphylaxis Knowledge in Camp Personnel

Survey data were collected from camp directors, medical personnel, and camp staff concerning food allergy and anaphylaxis. Knowledge gaps were identified in these groups, particularly in identifying anaphylaxis, but recent training was associated with increased knowledge.   Read the Article

Food Allergy Trends and Epinepherie Autoinjector Presence at Summer Camps Read the Article


Concussions in the Camp Setting

In collaboration with the Association of Camp Nursing, concussion researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia conducted a survey study evaluating the practices of camp providers in managing concussion in the camp setting (August 2017.) Despite the frequency of head injury at summer camps, protocols for managing concussion in this setting is limited, and the variability of its management in this setting is unknown. By characterizing the patterns of management of summer camp providers, we hope to be able to design appropriate guidelines to aid the summer camp provider in managing pediatric concussion.

Based on this study, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Research Instutute presented a webinar on Concussion at Camp. The webinar was recorded, and is available as a member benefit. Log in, and click on “Webinars.”

Healthy Camp Study

The Healthy Camps initiative was inaugurated when ACA received Markel funding for an injury-illness study in 2006. The study was conducted 2006-2010. As a result of that initial committee’s work ACN’s member contribution to Healthy Camps’ work effort became apparent. That collaborative connection was formally recognized when Healthy Camps II began and an ACN seat on the committee was designated. The relationship between the two organizations has continued to develop ever since because ACN and ACA share “common ground” interest in improving the health profile of our Camp Community.

For more details view ACA’s Healthy Camps Toolbox at https://www.acacamps.org/resource-library/research/healthy-camp-toolbox.

Current ACN Members who are serving on the Healthy Camps Committee:

  • Linda Erceg
  • Barry Garst
  • Tracey Gaslin
  • Stuart Weinberg

ACN Research Collaboration

ACN collaborates with individuals and organizations to explore topics relevant to the topic of camp health. Collaboration proposals that (a) support the mission of the ACN and (b) benefit the camp community are considered. To express interest in an ACN research collaboration, submit a proposal (1,000 words max) to the ACN research committee at acn@campnurse.org detailing the project’s purpose, theoretical background hypotheses/research questions, methods, budget, timeline, and plan for dissemination of research findings. Proposals are reviewed by ACN’s Research Committee and/or the Board, and the applicant is notified of acceptance or denial.  To access the research collaboration guidelines and collaboration agreement click the link to the right.

Research Award

ACN awards great research! Nominations accepted

Research Seed Grant

Interested in conducting research? Apply for a seed grant!


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Association of Camp Nursing

Executive Director: Tracey Gaslin PhD, CRNI, CPNP, FNP-BC

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