Full Circle: Nursing Camp Benefits Harris and High School Students

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Students looking through microscope

This summer, the Harris College of Nursing & Health Sciences saw camp, a reunion and summer school rolled into one as 30 campers visited for a reimagined version of TCU Nursing Camp. The program is open to high schoolers entering their junior or senior year who want to learn more about nursing.

“The camp has been a great way to bring students from across Texas and out of state to TCU and attract them to our nursing school,” Dot Bartell, assistant professor of professional practice and camp coordinator, said. “They get an opportunity to learn about the various avenues within the nursing profession, which is much more than they might think.”

Ten faculty/staff and 10 TCU nursing student leaders worked alongside the campers. Broken into two teams, they spent mornings and afternoons rotating through sessions covering topics like personal protective equipment, infant care, vital signs, dementia and more. Activities included a visit to John Peter Smith Hospital and a service project benefitting a local public health agency.

“It was a full schedule with sessions in our classrooms and labs designed to give participants a simulation experience,” Bartell added. “We debriefed nightly and shared stories. That communication was important. If they’re thinking they want to be a nurse – or, in the end, decide it’s not for them – our goal is to help them make better decisions.”

Nursing camp leaders Ellie, Megan and Mimi

Nursing students Ellie Mock, Megan Owens and Mimi Reidy are Nursing Camp alumnae who returned as camp leaders.

Three of the 10 TCU Nursing student leaders were personally familiar with the camp, having been campers themselves during high school. Megan Owens, Ellie Mock and Mimi Reidy all returned to serve at the camp that helped solidify their decision to come to TCU and become nurses.

“Camp was really important to me,” Reidy said. “So I wanted to give back and pay it forward.”

Thanks to stories shared by students and faculty, she chose to pursue TCU Nursing and credits her camp experience to leading her to Harris College.

“The student leaders were so helpful and positive,” Reidy said. “I thought, ‘These could be my classmates.’”

Mock had a similar experience.

“It was a chance for me to say, ‘I went through this too,’ and then show them where I am now — and what an awesome program we have at TCU,” she said. “By the end of camp, I knew that’s what I wanted to study – and at TCU.”

The experience is truly a win-win. Bartell said the camp gives high schoolers a chance to learn, but also provides Harris student leaders a chance to teach. She believes this experience helps them to be better practitioners.

The camp started in 2018 as a day camp. The program paused in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic but returned in 2022 as an overnight camp, which utilizes TCU residence halls to provide a taste of the TCU campus experience and allow more time for team building. Campers worked together as teams during an escape room exercise and a scavenger hunt. There was also opportunity for activities like shopping and an ice cream social, with student leaders participating in the activities.

Bartell said her favorite part is watching the campers “get” something.

“I’m always excited to see them become excited about nursing and feel like they’re doing something real,” she said.