Camp Oz

Mighty Blog

Children’s Minnesota staff make difference at teen epilepsy camp

Camp Oz staff
Mary Gustafson (from left), Children’s Minnesota pharmacist and Camp Oz director of pharmacy; Dr. Michael Frost, Minnesota Epilepsy Group/co-medical director of Children’s Neuroscience Institute and Camp Oz medical director; Dr. Julia Doss, Minnesota Epilepsy Group psychologist and Camp Oz director of psychology; Nikki Baker, senior youth and family program manager, Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota and Camp Oz director; Scott Elsbernd, MS, RN, Children’s patient care manager and Camp Oz nursing director

Camp Oz is a camp designed for youth and teens with epilepsy and operated by the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota. This year marks the 34th year of Camp Oz.

We currently hold the camp out at YMCA Camp St. Croix in Hudson, Wis. Youth and teens with epilepsy are invited to participate in various activities such as arts and crafts, archery, horseback riding, swimming, sports, nature walks and much more!

The mission of Camp Oz is to connect youth with others affected by seizures, allow for the opportunity to try new things, and provide an environment for youth to openly share their journey with epilepsy with those that understand.

Campers come from eight states throughout the country, and we have reached our highest number of kids this year: 138 campers! Not only is this a positive and encouraging environment for the campers themselves but also for parents. Camp Oz provides 24-hour onsite medical/nursing care. This year we have 16 nurses on site all week along with three EFMN staff – these 19 people stay overnight every day of camp.  A physician (neurologist, mostly Dr. Michael Frost), a psychologist, and pharmacist are on site during the day and on call overnight off site. This assures parents that not only is the camp experience authentic, but that their children are safe and cared for in the event of an emergency.

Outdoor fun at Camp Oz this summer
Outdoor fun at Camp Oz this summer

Camp Oz has more than doubled in size since 2009 in an effort to educate, connect, and empower more youth and more families than ever before.

Mary Gustafson, PharmD, Children’s pharmacist, has been the director of the pharmacy department at Camp Oz for the past 22 years and partners closely with Jeffery Fleming, PharmD, to manage the thousands of medications being administered during the week. They are invaluable members of our team. Not only does Gustafson help to secure up to 15 volunteer pharmacists and physician assistants for camper medication check-in and sorting, she also leads our mediation security and safety protocols. Gustafson is at camp every day to provide medication expertise as needed during the day.

Scott Elsbernd, MS, RN, Children’s patient care manager, has been the director of the nursing department of Camp Oz for the past nine years. His role entails managing the 15 school-nurse volunteers (one assigned to each of the 15 camper cabins this year to administer all medications), providing pediatric nursing expertise and first aid, responding to any medical emergencies, and partnering with Nikki Baker, Camp Oz director (EFMN senior youth and family program manager) to provide the best experience for our campers with special health care needs.

Dr. Frost, MEG epileptologist and Children’s co-medical director of neurosciences, has been the Camp Oz medical director for more than 15 years and involved with Camp Oz for nearly 25. His role is to provide medical coverage and epilepsy expertise to support the overall mission of Camp Oz. His dedication to the sustainability of Camp Oz, the campers and providing a genuine outdoor camping experience to kids is second to none, and we are lucky to have his support. He is at Camp Oz each day and available/on-call over night.

Did you know?

Camp Oz did you know
Jimmy Bellamy