How we give new meaning to “happy campers”

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For one week I was the doctor at an exclusive summer camp for children age 7 through 11 years. Only a few children are accepted to this camp from those who qualify. There are strict requirements for admission, but once a child qualifies, they can return every year until they reach 11. Both boys and girls are recruited to attend.

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So exclusive is this camp that the ratio of staff to children is almost one to one. Some activities are done in large groups; others are done in groups of four campers with at least 2 adults.  There were adult staff in charge of leading music, teaching crafts, hiking, fishing, swimming and drama presentations. Additional staff came each evening for special programs and a birthday party for everyone. Since we were there the week of Independence Day, there was a fireworks show one evening.

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Three hot meals, served all-you-can-eat style, and snacks were provided daily. Assisted by a registered nurse, I oversaw treatment of any injuries, assessed illness and dispensed medications. The campers slept in air-conditioned cabins with full bath facilities, supervised by adult staff.

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The total cost of running this 5 day camp is in the tens of thousands of dollars; the cost to each child’s family-nothing. Sound wonderful to you? The kind of camp you would like to send your child or grandchild to? No, it isn’t.

This camp is exclusive but you can’t buy your way into this camp. It is not for the children of the rich and famous, celebrities, entertainers, politicians, or doctors. This camp is reserved for children who are in the foster care system- children who have been abused, neglected and/or abandoned by their parents.

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A special camp for special kids


Royal Family Kids has been confronting abuse and changing lives since 1990 by  sponsoring these camps .  The camps are staffed by local people for children in their community. All are volunteers. Funds to pay for the camp are raised by individual and corporate donations, grants, and old fashioned fund raisers like pie auctions .

Child abuse is a preventable, treatable medical condition- and a crime.

The American Academy of Pediatrics calls it  “a public health problem with lifelong health consequences for survivors.”

The World Health Organization calls it a “global priority” due to its potential impact on social and economic development.

All organizations that deal with child abuse agree that prevention is much more effective than treating the effects of abuse.

simple children's paintings on a wall

Many of these children land  in the foster care system which can be another form of abuse. Foster children may be shuffled from one home to another without warning, separated from siblings, leaving behind  personal possessions like  clothes, toys, books and photos. They have few opportunities to do normal kid activities like summer camps, family vacations, play sports and music lessons.

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Why Royal Family Kids

That is why our camp is so important. For their week at camp, each child gets  caring attention from safe adults, many of whom return year after year. The goal of the camp is to create positive memories for kids who have few. Each craft is carefully packed to go with the child, as is a small photo album filled with pictures of their activities at camp.

For the sake of their privacy and protection, I cannot show pictures of the children to you, but these photos  from the camp give you an idea of the fun things they did that week. Most important, they are taught that their life has value and that they can overcome the challenging situation that has brought them here. 

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If you suspect a child is being abused, here is how you can help.

Contact the National Child Abuse Hotline

or your local child protective agency – find the number at this link.

Together we can help every child feel safe and create positive memories. Thank you.

(This is not an affiliate link. Donations to Royal Family Kids are not shared with this blog.)




Stopping medical malpractice- how patients can help – Part 3

(previously posted under the title 6 reasons to sue your doctor-and how not to-part 3)

In the article, “YOU’VE BEEN SUED FOR MALPRACTICE-NOW WHAT?” (Medical Economics, March 10, 2015) attorney Richard Baker offers  6 common reasons for malpractice lawsuits, and what physicians can do to prevent them. In this series I look at them from the patient viewpoint- what you can do avoid getting care that makes you want to sue .


You can’t control  your doctor’s training, CME (continuing medical education), and certifications. But you have a right and responsibility to confirm that the doctor is qualified to perform the services offered. Doctors’ offices have diplomas, licenses, awards displayed on the walls for a reason-they want you to look at them.  Hospitals and other health care facilities make sure  that  the  physicians have the appropriate credentials.  Social media expert Kevin Pho, M.D. explains  how to check out a doctor’s credentials online-

Finding a doctor online and researching your physician on the Internet

Physicians can attend live lectures, watch or listen to lectures online and even view CME activities on a smart phone or other hand held device.

Physicians can attend live lectures, watch or listen to lectures online and even view CME activities on a smart phone or other hand held device.

Physicians must have a license for every state where they practice. Most physicians in the United States are board certified .which shows competency in their specialty. They take  a written and sometimes oral exam  and perform the requirements for MOC- maintenance of certification – medical study through lectures, reading, chart reviews and interactive online activities and repeat testing every few years.

Some physicians question the value of MOC. We agree with the idea in principle but believe the current requirements are irrelevant ,expensive, and time consuming without adding anything to knowledge, skill or improved patient care.  A few quit MOC completely and let their certification lapse, or join an alternate board which has less complicated requirements.  I will remain certified by the American Board of Family Medicine but the process needs to be relevant and valuable.

Learn more about certification in Family Medicine and if your family physician is board certified at the website of the American Board of Family Medicine