Student Life Guide sat down with third year chemistry student Adam to find out about his experiences working at an American summer camp.
How did you find out about it all?
I had a friend who worked for Americamp in Manchester, who had also done a summer camp the year before, so I heard all about it from her, and when I considered it further it seemed like a fun thing to do – I had nothing planned for the summer yet, and didn’t want to just spend it at home
Was the application process hard?
The application itself wasn’t hard, but it did take quite a while to do, they basically ask you why you want to work with children over the summer, and it’s basically just a character gauge to see if you’re the sort of person who’s suited to work at a summer camp. One thing I hadn’t expected, was to have to make a video to send to the agency- one of the most cringe worthy things I’ve ever made but you had to do it, you then waited for a camp to get in contact with you, and arrange a short Skype interview.
Was it daunting?
Having travelled a fair bit before, going to America for the first time didn’t worry me too much, and I’d been set up with an American counsellor before we travelled to camp, so I knew there was someone to meet me. I was most daunted by the teaching aspect, I wasn’t told what activity I would be teaching until I got there, so I had no idea what to expect, but you soon get the hang of it, and most of the other counsellors had been there before so there was a great amount of help from everyone else there.
Kareoke night at the bar up the road
Normal day/ day in the life
Wake up, raise the flag, go to breakfast, there would then be a short assembly, and then you would teach your activity for 3 hours (I was the head rock climbing instructor). There was then a free hour, where the campers could swim in the river or whatever they pleased. Lunch was followed by a rest hour, where most counsellors would sleep to get a bit of energy back. The afternoon was pretty unstructured, you could do matches, soccer, basketball and baseball, be a lifeguard, or you might even have scheduled activities, like archery or rifle. This would run until dinner, before which we would lower the flag. Depending on your duty section, you then either had to do an evening activity, or had the evening off! Rinse and repeat. I’ve heard from other people that this was a very relaxed set up though, some places have a lot more structured schedule.
Each term we got a couple of half days off, which made for some memorable times, and became highlights of going to camp. You get to go out of camp with the guys you have made great friends with, and because they’re pretty few and far between, you really make the most of your time off. For us this meant going to some cool falls nearby, or hiring a boat for a day on the reservoir or driving to a nearby town to find stuff to do. A lot of the Americans have been counsellors for quite a few years already, so they know all the cool places to see. The camp I went to has two weeks of family camp at the end, which the international counsellors stay to help at. This was way more relaxed than boys camp, and just petty much became a two-week holiday where there was very little for us to work, and there were loads of guests our age to hang out with. At the end of Camp, I also managed to travel for about three weeks with people I’d met there. We went in a group of four, and did a tour of all the colleges in Virginia to see other counsellors, it was such a wild time and I’d really recommend doing something along those lines. The way we timed it was pretty much three consecutive fresher’s weeks, which was pretty cool.
American football team, Americans VS Europeans
Why did you decide to do it?
I had nothing else to do, and I wanted to have a fun time travelling, but not just be out of pocket. In the end I didn’t really make any money, but it came out as a pretty much free holiday – and the work isn’t really ‘work’ per se, so I didn’t really mind that.
Would you recommend it?
Definitely; from the outside it’s hard to grasp what it’ll be like, where you’ll be or what sort of experience you’ll have, but I can assure you that you’ll have a great time, and make to great friends in the process. I’ve had loads of people from home go to other places this year and I haven’t heard anyone complain in the slightest.
Would you do it again?
I did it for the second time this year, at the same boy’s camp in west Virginia. I enjoyed it so much last year, that I thought I’d really like to go back, plus if you go back you don’t need to go through an agency, so I got payed a lot more, and brought back most of it, which made it that bit better to now you’ll earn quite a bit too.
Visit the Americamp site here