What Happens On Day Off, Stays On Day Off

Okay, the title’s a lie. What happens on day off NEVER stays on day off. In fact, all the details of what happened on your day off will probably make it back to camp before you do.

Depending on what camp you end up at you will most likely have one day off per week – yup, just 24 hours to take a break from camp and get up to whatever mischief you can manage in that short space of time.

summer camp usa day off
Get your day off faces on

Working 24/7, 6 days a week, in what’s known as the ‘camp bubble’, with little access to the outside world, means that absolutely everyone on camp is dying for a little bit of gossip – just something they can talk about that isn’t their campers or how tired they are.

So when day off comes around, everyone looks forward to the stories that will soon be making the rounds about who got drunk and pissed the bed (true story), who threw their handbag in a dumpster and then called the police, thinking it had been lost or stolen (also a true story) and, of course, who hooked up with who (many, many true stories).

That’s all well and good, I hear you say, but how does day off actually work? Who will I be with, where will I go, how will I get there?

Obviously I can only speak from my own experience at the camp I work at, but many camps have a similar system, so hopefully this will answer most of your questions.

At my camp there is pretty much always someone on day off, apart from on opening and closing day. You will be with the same group of people on every day day off, and you will have one day off per week (24 hours – 4:30pm to 4:30pm the following day).

summer camp usa day off
Visiting a waterfall

We always have somewhere between 8 and 15 people on day off together, depending on what day it is – different roles put certain restrictions on who can go off when, so it’s mostly random as to who you’ll end up with. For example, if you are the only archery or riflery instructor, then you can only go on day off on a non-teaching day.

Camp provides us with van runs to a few set places at certain times (although if you plan in advance and are very nice to the driver, you might be able to specify your own times to be dropped off or picked up). We can go to Lakeville (about 5 minutes away, with a few restaurants and a beach), Millerton (about 10 minutes drive, with a few shops, restaurants, cafes and a cinema), or Torrington (30 minutes away, with shops, bars, restaurants and hotels. This is where we go if we want to stay off camp for the night). And if we ask in advance, we can get a lift to the station to get the train to New York City!

summer camp usa day off
Day off = a trip to the beach

Obviously if you have your own car (or have someone on your day off who has a car), then you can go wherever you like, whenever you like, which is heaps nicer than having to be restricted by the camp driver and van run rules.

Camp does not allow alcohol to be brought onto the premises, or for you to be drunk on camp, so if you intend on getting drunk, you have to stay away. So you’ll get a hotel (and try to squeeze as many people as possible into one room to save money), go to a bar and probably get as wasted as you can, before waking up with a killer hangover and heading back to camp the following afternoon.

summer camp usa day off
Time to veg out on the sofa

However, day off doesn’t always have to be about drinking. Most people like to spread out the hectic days off between a few more chilled ones. You could go out for a nice meal, have a few beers or go to the movies, before spending the next day shopping or just hanging out in a lovely little cafe. Sure, this sort of day off won’t provide your fellow counselors with their much needed gossip, but you will save money and you won’t be left totally hungover the next evening while you try to take care of your kids.

summer camp usa day off
Comfy hotel beds are the best!

What you do on day off is really up to you (and your car situation), but the options available to you are pretty much endless. You could:

  • Go shopping at a mall.
  • Go on a bike ride.
  • Make use of camp’s facilities and take a canoe out on the lake.
  • Go tubing down a river.
  • Find some waterfalls to jump off.
  • Go to a bar.
  • Stay at a hotel.
  • Sit in a cafe.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Get some ice cream.
  • Go to the beach.
  • Sleep.
  • Visit a friend’s house.
  • Sit in your bunk/the staff lodge/a friend’s cabin and watch movies all day.
  • Go camping.
  • Visit New York City (or your closest big city).
  • Go the batting cages and hit some balls
  • Play a round of crazy golf, or go to the driving range.
  • Do anything you can possibly think of!
summer camp usa day off
Ice cream with sprinkles – a cure for any hangover

So while 24 hours doesn’t seem like a lot, if you plan it right, you can definitely pack in a lot into your days off, giving you a few awesome additions to your summer camp experience, and maybe providing everyone back at camp with a few laughs too!

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