Last week you heard from Dawn about her time spent as a camper and now staff member at summer camp. This week it’s Hollie’s turn to give you an idea of what it’s like to be an international camp counselor.
1. Where did you go to camp? How many years?
I went to Camp Sloane YMCA – just for one summer.
2. Why did you decide to work at summer camp?
The travelling aspect completely sold it to me. The idea of being able to explore afterwards with like-minded people was a massive incentive – however, I had never previously worked with children in such a concentrated capacity and was keen to find out how I found situations such as this for potential careers motives.
3. What agency did you apply to camp through and would you choose them again/how did you find their service?
I applied via Bunac. They charged £500 for the convenience; however, they did offer a selection of events to meet other counselors and took the stress out of all of the planning and allowed you to solely focus on preparing for the move for the first time. However, I think if I were to return to camp I would be inclined to organise more by myself in order to save money.
4. What is/was your role at camp?
I was a lifeguard (regretfully) – art teacher – junior girl counselor.
5. Did camp meet your expectations? In what ways?
Yes and no. I think I overestimated the amount of free time you would be entitled during your time at camp; however, I think that the living aspect and the activities the camp offered met my expectations.
6. What 3 essential items would you never go to camp without?
A HEAD TORCH. THIS SHIT SAVES LIVES. Also, a padlock – just because there is often shit you just want to lock away. And lastly, a solemn promise from at least 3 friends and family that they will write and send chocolate – THIS MAKES YOUR DAY EVERY DAY.
7. What is your best/favourite camp memory?
Probably Kaos ( a shaving cream fight). OR the one day myself and another counselor hijacked some kayaks on our day off and paddled to the other side of the river and went for a cheeky hike. And then got lost. And then were SEVERELY late back from day off.
8. What is/was your favourite camp food?
Is this a trick question? Does Harney & Sons tea count? Ok, ok, the coffee cake. And ONLY the coffee cake.
9. What is/was your favourite camp cheer/chant?
“To the moon, to the moon, I said to the moon… TO THE MOON.”
10. What is your favourite camp saying/word/expression?
Legit. Dating. Obsessed with.
11. Where did you travel to after camp (if you travelled)?
I went to New York and then to New Jersey (oops) and then back to NY. From here we went to Canada – Toronto/Niagra Falls. We then bussed it straight down to Washington DC. We then flew to Orlando and then bussed it to Miami. AND LASTLY we went to visit some real Americanos at school and experienced the frat life at Le High – Pennsylvania. Then we flew home from NY L
12. How has camp influenced you/who you are/what you do?
It has A) Taught me I will never have more than 3 children and they will never be sharing a bedroom with me. B) I will never become a lifeguard ever again. C) I’m awful at teaching fine art but darn good at improvising fun art attack inspired activities. D) I can’t have a job that makes me get up before 7am. E) I am so excited to travel the world. F) There are friends to be made at every opportunity despite your differences or interests, there is always the possibility of friendship with (almost) everyone.
13. What is the BEST thing about being a summer camp counsellor?
Can I say the tips? No, I’m kidding (sort of). The best part was actually the aftermath. After I’d gone home there were already 2 letters from campers waiting for me and it was so lovely to know that I had impacted their life in such a beneficial way that they want to pursue being friends with you and keep in touch. Its great to know you’ve left a mark on their memories.
14. What’s the WORST thing?
The early mornings. The f**king bug nets. THE LACK OF SAFETY PINS??????? Secretly disliking a kid because they’re definitely gonna be prettier than you/already are prettier than you.
15. What the most important thing that camp has taught you?
To be open minded in every situation and leave all reservations at the door in the beginning of every new journey. That not all people think in the same way and there is very rarely ever a right way. And obviously, to roll your f**king tent sides in the morning. Oh, and never keep mints in your handbag when in the wilderness because squirrels are assholes.
16. Anything else you want to say to people thinking about working at summer camp?
Do it – but do it with no expectations. Don’t dream up your ideal camp because that won’t be what you arrive to – but, the way you act to situations/events/people means every camp holds the potential to be your perfect camp, you just have to seek out the elements that speak to you. I don’t think I entirely found that during my visit and I think that if I were to return I would like to teach a different activity. BUT ALSO REMEMBER as much as this is about you growing as a person… never forget that ultimately you are there to provide the best experience to these young boys and girls who ultimately think you’re the coolest and will follow you off a cliff if you let them. It is all about them.