PharmCamp Students Demonstrate Their Skills

A young boy writhed on the ground in pain while his friends discussed the best ways to treat a rattlesnake bite.

“We should suck the poison out,” one suggested.
“No, we should cover it with ice,” the other said.

Luckily, as part of a skit presented by middle school students at Pharm Camp 2017 to demonstrate what they had learned, the youths called poison control instead, then took their friend to a hospital where he made a full and extremely speedy recovery.

The skits, performed for family members and camp leaders on Thursday afternoon, offered the 25 Santa Cruz County middle school students who participated in the second Pharm Camp in Nogales a chance to show off some of the things they learned last week, from disposing of unwanted medications to sun safety.

The four-day camp at the Santa Cruz Center in Nogales is an opportunity for students to gain a better understanding of pharmacy and other science-and-health-related topics, said Theodore Tong, camp director and associate dean with the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy, which runs the program.

It also gives them a glimpse into a career they can aspire to in the future, he said.

“Find every opportunity,” Tong encouraged the young students, noting that youth in Nogales might feel limited at times, as he did while growing up in Chinatown in San Francisco.


“The teachers and people in the community who created experiences for me to realize I could succeed by going to college” were a big part of his success, and he hopes Pharm Camp can have that effect on Nogales participants, he added.

During the first three days of the camp, students took field trips to pharmacies, observed pharmacists at work, carried out experiments and made lip balm, anti-itch lotion, hand sanitizer and toothpaste. On the final day, they showed a room full of parents and siblings how much they had learned.

“Most of us, we’ve been having a lot of fun ever since it started,” said Sebastian Thysell, a Coatimundi Middle School eighth-grader, speaking to parents during the camp’s closing ceremony. “I liked to meet all of your kids and all of your family, it was really nice.”

Sofia Durazo, an eighth-grade student at Desert Shadows Middle School who hopes to become a veterinarian, added after the ceremony that the camp was not only fun, it also gave her a taste of how challenging medicine can be.

“The labs were my favorite. We got to do hands on things,” she said. “It increased my interest and made we want to do medicine even more.”

This article originally appeared in the Nogales International News.

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