CampDoc Offers Web-Based Way to Manage Campers’ Medical Needs

Michael Ambrose grew up going to Tamarack Camps in Ortonville, MI,  each summer. Once he was too old to attend Tamarack, he began volunteering. All throughout college and medical school at the University of Michigan, he loved working in the camp’s health center, organizing health forms, distributing medications, and tending to injuries.

As the world moved into the digital age, Ambrose became frustrated that summer camps seemed stuck in the paper-heavy past, especially in an age of ADHD meds, helicopter parents, and food allergies. There was a lot to keep track of, Ambrose says. “Camp doctors deal with a lot of medication—about 50 percent of campers are on some kind of medication,” he explains. “Everything is done with pen and paper. But nurses and doctors are coming from the real world, where they’re used to electronic records. They feel like they come to camp and take a step back.”

A self-taught web developer, Ambrose volunteered to create software to track Tamarack campers’ medical needs. “That was eight or nine years ago,” he says. “It worked so well, we tried taking it to other camps, and from there it started spreading like wildfire.”

Ambrose parlayed his software into a startup called CampDoc, and as of this past summer, more than 100 camps throughout the United States and Canada are using it to manage campers’ health. Ambrose, who still practices medicine at U-M Hospital, says the growth potential for CampDoc is significant. “There are 14 million children in the United States who go to some kind of summer camp—there’s a huge market out there,” he adds. “And there really isn’t anything out there like CampDoc.”

Ambrose designed CampDoc’s Web-based platform to be user friendly and easily integrated with existing camp databases. CampDoc records a camper’s basic medical information as well as details about allergies, medications and when to administer them, emergency contacts, insurance information, immunization information, and parental authorizations. Ambrose says varying staff skill levels at each camp make it especially important to have all of this data stored in one place. “Parents don’t necessarily know what’s going on at camp,” Ambrose cautions. “Certain camps have doctors and nurses, but some are just first aid-certified.”

Depending on the size of the camps, the fee to access CampDoc is $3 to $5 per camper. Earlier this year, CampDoc partnered with Markel Insurance, one of the largest providers of camp insurance, to help camps reduce risk and liability. Ambrose says Markel was so pleased with CampDoc’s positive effect on safety that it now promotes the software to its customers.

Ambrose also spends a fair amount of time on the conference circuit, particularly those with the big summer-camp governing bodies in attendance, to get the word out about CampDoc’s growing operation. “Nobody knows to Google or search for electronic camp medical records,” he notes. “It’s a brand new concept that nobody knows to look for.”

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One response to “CampDoc Offers Web-Based Way to Manage Campers’ Medical Needs”

  1. Jamie says:

    Exciting to hear about great ideas coming out of Ann Arbor and Michigan. Nice job Ambrose!