Hip hip hooray! SeriousFun’s very own medical advisor, Dr. Wendy Cook, received the Hedley S. Dimock Award at the 2018 American Camp Association (ACA) National Conference. Here are the details.
Get To Know Dr. Wendy Cook
If you ever get the chance to talk with Wendy, you’ll recognize her kindness, bright smile, and curiosity in a matter of moments. That’s because Wendy embraces camp values and philosophies not as an ideal, but a lifestyle. Colleagues describe Wendy as “an open-minded, active listener” who “helps others solve problems with guidance and support rather than instruction.”
Others describe Wendy as having “the mind of a doctor and the heart of a camp counselor”—and we’ve never heard anything more true.
In 1965, the ACA Board of Directors established a means of paying tribute to those who make extraordinary contributions to the advancement of the camp movement in the United States.
The Hedley S. Dimock Award is one of the association’s six annual recognition awards. It’s given to a person who contributes to the camping community at large through related fields like outdoor education, conservation, recreation, medicine, education, architecture, and social science.
Wendy is one of those people! Her dedication to medical excellence in the camp setting has been critical since the start of SeriousFun Children’s Network, in turn touching the lives of tens of thousands of campers and their families, staff, volunteers, and medical professionals alike.
Dr. Cook accepts her award at the ACA conference in Orlando, Florida
A Day in the Life of a Camp Doc
Wendy is a pediatrician, but she's a pioneer of camp medicine too. Her experience as a camp counselor at the first SeriousFun Children’s Network camp, The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, inspired her to pursue a career in medicine. After working closely with campers living with a variety of medical conditions, she focused on pediatrics with aspirations to become a camp medical director.
Following her Stanford pediatric residency, she served as the Founding Medical Director of The Painted Turtle, the SeriousFun Camp in California, where she showed extraordinary leadership in laying the foundation for the medical program. While she was establishing systems at The Painted Turtle, Wendy became a trusted resource and mentor to others working to build the medical programs necessary to serve children living with illness at SeriousFun camps and programs around the world.
Her name also became the inspiration for camp’s lake! If you’re ever at The Painted Turtle, you’ll find campers and counselors laughing up a storm and loving life on Lake Wendy.
Campers enjoying a canoe ride at The Painted Turtle on Lake Wendy
From Then to Now
As the Network expanded, Wendy joined the SeriousFun Support Center team as the Medical Advisor to help coordinate and guide the medical services of the global community of camps and programs.
Wendy provides support to existing programs and is instrumental in the development of sound medical programs at emerging camps. She helps camps design medical centers, create staffing models, set-up inventory, and develop medical policies and procedures to ensure that campers' needs are handled with the utmost safety and care.
When she’s not doing all of that, Wendy coordinates the exchange of medical knowledge within the Network—connecting medical professionals from near and far by creating global medical conferences, webinars, and online resource libraries.
We asked Wendy what she loves about camp. “Camp has a remarkable way of making everyone feel at home,” Wendy said. “Medically, we care for children in a nurturing, child-friendly way so that campers have fun and feel a sense of belonging. On any given day, campers with diabetes have ‘pump changing parties,’ children living with hemophilia infuse their factor prophylaxis together around family-style tables, and children receiving their hemodialysis enjoy programing from horse barn staff doing rope tricks,” Wendy explained.
"It’s not that the children say, 'Thanks for a wonderful time.' It’s that they say, 'Thank you for changing my life.'" - Paul Newman
A camper and counselor looking out over Lake Wendy at The Painted Turtle
"I’m constantly amazed by the impact that camp has on everyone involved. We’ve observed that, after their experience, some children better adhere to their medications. Other campers learn new social skills and make more friends when they leave camp," Wendy shared, noting that the impact doesn't stop there.
"Many physicians and nurses report feeling rejuvenated and rewarded by their work at camp too," Wendy continued, "Camp supports children’s well-being in the face of the life challenges that come with living with a serious illness. They come away from camp thriving with greater sense of self, strength, and resilience."
"I am grateful to be part of Paul's family of camps and programs while working to carry out his vision. It is a privilege," Wendy said.
Wendy’s knowledge, commitment, and passion has helped provide children living with serious illnesses the opportunity to experience camp to its fullest.
Thank you, Wendy. We are proud!
Jacqueline loves nothing more than thinking outside the box and team spirit—cue never-seen-before icebreakers! By developing virtual and in-person learning opportunities for staff across the Network, she fosters collaboration near and far.
To learn about employment opportunities at SeriousFun, visit www.seriousfunnetwork.org/about/employment-opportunities.