A Camp in America
by Jason Cook
Looking back on my summer with Camp America, and the blood sweat and tears that resulted in the most valuable and amazing summer of my life, it’s hard to imagine my life if I hadn’t gone to camp.
I heard about Camp America through a friend who did the programme in the previous year and told me about the amazing summer he had. I saw an advert for Camp America recruitment fairs held across the country in February and March – I couldn't believe how easy it was to get my summer sorted. I headed to the Olympia centre in London, got a job on the spot and knew where I was heading to by the end of the day! I was on my way to New York.
As I touched down in JFK airport, I was still in a state of disbelief and - having left my friends and family behind in England - was feeling nervous and unsure about what the next few months had in store for me. I was so glad to meet other Camp America participants at the airport and as we shared our worries and expectations, I realised that I wasn’t going to be alone.
Getting picked up from the bus station by my Camp Director and other camp staff, I couldn't believe I had felt so nervous on the way to Camp. Within a few hours I had made even more new friends. The atmosphere was more like a big family than a work place.
At Camp, there were people from across the globe – from Australia to Ukraine to South Africa, and, of course, lots of other Brits to make me feel right at home. I hadn’t expected to be part of such an international community and it was then that I started to see what a great opportunity I had to make so many new friends from all over the world.
Before the kids arrived on camp, the staff had an orientation, which as well as giving us training also helped to glue the bond we’d made since we arrived. A week later I began work as a general counsellor to a group of fantastic kids who had enough energy to fuel a small nuclear power station! As a general counsellor I was a big brother, friend and supervisor all in one.
There are four options with Camp America – you can be a specialist counsellor and teach a sport or activity, a special-needs counsellor, where you’ll work with campers of varying physical, mental or emotional disabilities, General Counsellor or Campower, where you’ll be the power behind the camp, working in the kitchen, doing maintenance work or working in the camp office, there was something for everyone.
Personally I felt the general counsellor position was for me, because I love to be around kids and had some childcare experience, but whatever role you choose you can’t help but have a good time because of the friendly and fun atmosphere on Camp.
As the summer was drawing to a close, everyone was talking about what they were going to do after Camp. I knew that I wanted to travel but hadn’t decided where to go, so when a friend suggested taking a plane to the West coast and travelling by bus from San Francisco to Las Vegas, my mind was made up! Using the pocket money we’d earned from Camp, a group of eight of us arranged our flights and were set to start exploring America. The photographs and memories I have of the month spent travelling will be with me forever as the best time of my life.
To say that the decision to go to Camp has changed me would be an understatement; I can’t imagine life without the friends I’ve made and the experiences I’ve had on Camp. It’s increased my confidence, given me a great CV builder and most importantly I now have brilliant friends from all over the world who I’ll be in touch with for years to come. I’ll be going to Camp again next year and looking forward to even more adventures ahead.
Image courtesy of rachellynnaeÂ©