I’ve honestly had the most amazing summer working at Camp Iroquois Springs. I was a camp counselor specialising in Horse Back Riding and I got placed by the amazing USA Summer Camp! If you’re interested in starting your American adventure, I honestly would recommend going through these guys. The staff are so helpful every step of the way, and they are just as happy as you are when you get placed at your dream camp! (For more info, visit www.usasummercamp.co.uk)
Camp was such a life changing experience and one that I will never forget. I’ve met friends for life, with whom I share the most amazing memories with which I could talk endlessly about. But for now, I’m going to share with you the 5 main and most important things I learnt whilst working at a camp, which I hope are useful to you!
- BELIEVING IN YOURSELF – Prior to camp, I tended to struggle in believing in myself and believing in my abilities. But when you are put in a situation where you are in a new country, completely out of your comfort zone with a brand new set of people, you’ve got to have some confidence to get by every day. During orientation, it’s key to set yourself goals for the summer and what you want to achieve, because once the children arrive it’s game on. I didn’t honestly think my children would love me, or I thought I would terrible at my job, but you get so much confidence, honesty and motivation from your co-counsellors and general leaders that you start to think ‘you know what, I can do this.’ After my first evaluation with my GL, I never really doubted myself again all summer. I believed that I was doing a great job, and I believed that I was doing the best for my kids and that they appreciated everything I did for them. I came away a different person, knowing that I had done the best job that I could have done and others believed that too.
- WHAT EVEN IS SLEEP?! – Going about day to day activities on 2-3 hours’ sleep is honestly easy as pie after working at a summer camp. I had the Upper Senior Girls, so aged around 13-14, so they were relatively easy to get to sleep. But it was always the case of once you got off OD or from a night off and you got into your bed, you were wide awake and couldn’t sleep. Waking up at 7am every day too becomes second nature; a ‘lie-in’ is now a thing of the past! Long day and a lack of sleep become so normal; you do forget what it’s like to not feel tired! But if you keep pushing through it, it’s honestly so worth it. Don’t give up!
- GETTING READY IN 15 MINUTES IS A PIECE OF CAKE – As I stated earlier, the girls I had were aged 13-14 and in my bunk there were 18 girls and 4 counsellors including myself… so you can imagine what shower hour was like! It was honestly like being in the army; so regimented and the girls were timed in their showers. Most of the time, us counsellors were left with 10 minutes to shower and then get ready. Most evenings this was fine, but when it got to banquet nights it was a nightmare and such a rush. The positive though, is that we still managed to make ourselves look #onfleek in 10 minutes! It is honestly a skill you will acquire, and you will only see it as a skill when you return home and you manage to get yourself ready for a dressed up occasion in 15-20 minutes, when previously it would have taken you hours.
- THE FRIENDS YOU MAKE ARE FRIENDS FOR LIFE – It’s such a cliché but it’s honestly so true. You live together at camp in such a close proximity, and you learn about each other’s lives so quickly it makes you feel like you’ve known them forever. When you come back from a day off, your friends feel like you’ve been gone for weeks and they want updates on everything that happened that day. Nights off with your best friends are also made for campfires and songs and long walks by the lakes. It’s such a reality check when you fly back home to find your camp best friends not there by your side anymore. It’s taken me so long to adapt to that; I miss them being around all the time! From going to camp, I’ve made such good friends from all over the world who I regularly talk via social media. I’ve even already booked to go and see some of them abroad! So in your camp experience you will make friends from everywhere, and I mean everywhere. From the United States, to New Zealand, to France and even to South Africa; camp seriously has an amazing mix of cultures!
- LIFE DOESN’T ALWAYS HAVE TO BE SERIOUS – This is the main thing that I learnt from camp, which is why I’ve saved the best till last. At camp, you get to act like a child every day. Yes you have to act like a teacher to the campers, but they want to be your friend too. But you don’t want to be too strict with them. There will be activities where you have to be out of your comfort zone and be silly for your kids; so step up and do it! I did and I would have regretted it if I hadn’t of done it. In your first year, it’s hard I’m not going to lie, because honestly, you have no idea what you’re doing and how to impress your kids. But it’s really simple. The kids love it when you act on their level too; it shows them that you can be relatable, so acting all silly when they do and sitting with them, laughing with them about their boy talk or just general girl chit-chat goes a long way. Life is too short to always be serious, and before camp I was such a serious person. Camp has changed me for the better as a result, as now I have way more fun than I did before camp!
So these are just my personal 5 reasons as to what I learnt from camp. There were so many more that I could have listed and I could honestly go on forever about camp. Your experience will be different than mine, just as mine has been different from somebody else’s. That doesn’t mean you will learn these things too. If you’re anxious about embarking on this adventure, take the leap and do it. It will be one of the best decisions that you will ever make, and I guarantee that you’ll have the best summer of your life.