Junior cross country runner Jake Whitney experienced a new kind of teamwork over the summer that was quite different from the bonds shared with his fellow athletes. He served alongside a nurse as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) at Windy Gap YoungLife Camp in Asheville, North Carolina ensuring hundreds of summer campers’ safety.
Whitney, a cell and molecular biology major, completed the training to be an EMT in January. He hoped it would open up opportunities to gain experience before applying to Physician Assistant School after graduation and said being a camp EMT fit the bill nicely.
Since he rotated shifts with the nurse, some nights he was on call from 4 p.m. until breakfast the next morning — during prime time for camp mischief that often led to injuries.
“There were some nights where it’d be 2 a.m. and the kids were supposed to be in bed, but they were jumping off bunks and getting hurt instead,” he said.
He also saw his fair share of sprained ankles, and once, a badly broken leg when a camper tried unsuccessfully to jump over the stairs at the go-cart track.
Whitney said that, in addition to the challenges of being on the medical team for the summer, he also had to balance his responsibilities for the cross country team and make sure he stayed in shape. Often times, that meant tumbling out of bed at the crack of dawn after long nights on call for an uphill climb on the only road that led out of camp.
“It was definitely hard to balance,” he said. “The late nights made the early mornings hard.”
It wasn’t Whitney’s first time working for YoungLife, though it was his first summer as an EMT. He’s a club leader during the school year for Madison Academic School, and he has previously served at different camps during the summer taking care of the grounds and as a leader for adventures like mountain biking.
His parents sparked his interest in the club. He grew up around it, because they were YoungLife leaders when he was little after his dad came to Christ at a YoungLife event.
Whitney said he enjoyed most of all watching campers come to love YoungLife like he does, even if they got hurt or sick. When campers got hurt early in the week, he’d watch the camper’s leader take care of them the rest of the time and make sure they still had a good experience.
“Most of the time they’re still having an incredible time even if they’ve been hurt or sick,” he said. “I loved seeing the incredible difference in campers from the beginning of the week to the end.”