Helping at medical camps works to enhance joy, sense of purpose

If you have a background in medicine, either as a doctor, dentist, nurse or emergency medical technician — or you just like helping kids to discover the joy of being a child — then you can volunteer at a medical specialty camp.

SeriousFun Children’s Network today released a new report offering unique insight into the potential of medical specialty camps to positively affect the well-being of volunteers caring for children.

Conducted by researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado, key highlights from this study include:

  • Secondary traumatic stress scores were statistically significantly lower among respondents after volunteering at a SeriousFun camp.
  • Volunteers reported positive camp experiences with 99% feeling included and a sense of purpose. Personal (92%) and professional connections (88%) were forged and persistent at least three months after camp (~60%).
  • Volunteering greatly influenced a provider’s personal and professional perspective as respondents reported finding respite, value, meaning, and rediscovering joy in medicine. Importantly, medical volunteers experienced their pediatric patients in a new light which increased appreciation of their positive impact on patients’ lives.
  • When reflecting on their daily work while at camp, respondents reported that camp provided an ideal place for rejuvenation, teamwork, and giving meaning to practicing medicine without frustration.

“SeriousFun recognizes the importance of offering medical providers opportunities to build stress resilience and coping skills that translate to their day-to-day work,” said Dr. Laura Blaisdell, medical advisor for the SeriousFun Children’s Network.

“This study demonstrates improved lived experience of medical staff and volunteers who work with children and families, both at camp and in their communities, and helps to actualize our mission of serving kids with serious illnesses globally,” she added.

SeriousFun Children’s Network is continuously working to grow its reach and impact by creating positive, inclusive, and empowering experiences for campers, families, caregivers, volunteers, medical professionals, and communities.

Annually, SeriousFun camps and programs serve the needs of children living with more than 130 different medical conditions. Since the first SeriousFun camp opened in 1988, the network of camps and programs has delivered more than 1.7 million life-changing experiences to children and family members, totally free of charge.

SeriousFun Children’s Network welcomes medical staff professionals and other volunteers who are looking to expand their personal and professional perspective to apply for upcoming staff and volunteer opportunities for the 2024 camp season.

The association’s website provides answers to many commonly-asked questions, such as these:

How old do I need to be to volunteer at a SeriousFun camp?

Applicants must be at least 19 years old to volunteer at a SeriousFun camp but each camp is independently managed so please confirm the age requirement for the camp and position of your choice prior to applying.

What are the requirements for a volunteer position?

SeriousFun camps look for fun, energetic, creative, responsible, and compassionate individuals who will be dedicated to giving our campers the best experience possible. For certain program areas (for example, lifeguarding, ropes course, etc.), specific skill certifications are required.

Each volunteer position is also contingent upon submission of requested medical documentation and the successful completion of a background check or other screening by the camp.

Where can I volunteer?

You can find a camp to volunteer at using our Find A Camp page. Generally, you will be eligible to volunteer at a camp in the country you live in. There are a few exceptions. For example, if you are a fluent speaker in a language spoken at a SeriousFun camp outside of the United States, you may be eligible to volunteer there.

What volunteer opportunities are there?

There are many ways to volunteer at SeriousFun camps, even if you cannot give an entire week of your time for a summer session. There are weekend camp programs, day programs, hospital and community outreach programs and events, and more.

There are even volunteer opportunities where you may not interact directly with children, working behind the scenes to make the camp magic happen. To find an opportunity that suits your bandwidth, find the camps you’re interested in volunteering at here. Then, check their websites for a complete listing of volunteer options.

For more information about volunteering, visit