Last week you read all about Eimear’s summer camp experience, and this week it’s Rosa’s turn to tell you about her 5 summers spent at camp, both as a camper and counselor!
1. Where did you go to camp? How many years?
I work at Camp Sloane YMCA which is nestled in the Berkshires (at the bottom!) in Lakeville, Connecticut. Last summer was my 5th at camp and I’ll be returning for my 6th this June.
2. Why did you decide to work at summer camp?
I first heard about Camp Sloane when I was sent myself as a camper from the UK. I loved my counselors at the time and always entertained the idea of going back one day to work there myself. On top of this I wanted to use camp as an opportunity to do something more with my summer than going somewhere sunny for 2 weeks.
3. What agency did you apply to camp through and would you choose them again/how did you find their service?
I’ve applied through 3 agencies and from two different countries in total. I began my camp counselor journey with BUNAC back in 2011 and they were fabulous. They stopped running the camp programme for a while but have recently brought it back and are well worth checking out.
I then went with Camp Leaders for 2 years, the first time I applied with them I was located in Australia and the second in the UK. Everything went alright but I had several friends that received false information during the visa interview process which ultimately resulted in added costs.
Last year I went to camp with CCUSA (I was in Australia throughout the application process) I can’t speak fondly enough of this agency, they were an absolute dream, no dramas what so ever.
This year I’ll be applying through 3 Adventures who I’ve only ever heard positive things about!
It’s worth doing your homework and finding the agency that best suits your budget and needs but the golden rule that applies to all of them is to get your application in as early as possible. It will cut your stress and expenditure drastically, trust me!
4. What is/was your role at camp?
My first two summers spent working at camp I was a Performing Arts counselor. It’s worth mentioning here that I am by no means a triple threat but you quickly learn at camp that, although having some skills and a positive attitude towards the area you’re teaching is essential, it’s the way you work and interact with children that allows you to create and teach a worthwhile lesson . Don’t lie on your application about skills you don’t have, be honest and talk about what you do know and how your personality and work ethic will make you a fantastic teacher, even if you’re not the next Beyoncé, Michael Jordan or Alice Alexandrov.
I spent the following two summers as Junior Girls section head, a role that involves essentially being the perfect combination of big sister/ best friend/ mother and teacher to 40-odd girls around the 10 to 11 age mark. It’s simply put the hardest job I’ve ever loved. (You’ll hear that phrase a lot this summer!)
5. Did camp meet your expectations? In what ways?
In terms of the work that a counselor is required to do I could have never imagined the level of responsibility and the work load that was about to be put on me. If you’ve spoken to anyone that’s gone to camp I’m sure they’ve told you all about the great tan they got or the awesome time they had travelling after, but it’s important to remember that what you’re about to sign up for is going to be the hardest job you’ve ever had. Don’t enter into it lightly!
The other side of this of course is that if you put your all in to camp this summer, the friendships you make and the lessons you learn over the summer will hugely exceed your expectations. I could never have dreamed when I left home for the first time and headed to camp that it would be an experience that would have such an effect on my personality, work ethic and ambitions. Plus the friends you make at camp are friends for life, it’s like discovering a whole new #sloanefamily.
6. What 3 essential items would you never go to camp without?
Tweezers, you should never go anywhere without these as a general rule. This applies even more so when you’re living amongst ticks.
Friendship Bracelet string – has your activity been rained out? Are you trying to distract a homesick camper? Encouraging your campers to make new friends? Need a present for your new best friend before you part camp and go your separate ways? Like the bracelets at Urban Outfitters but refuse to spend a tenner on them? Look no further.
A camp appropriate playlist. Music is an essential part of summer camp, it’s happy, clappy, cheesy and everything you may well hate in the real world. But this isn’t the real world……This is camp world. If you’re not a fan of Taylor Swift, One Direction and whoever else is on the scene come June 2015 then start working at it now, ease yourself in gently and then get your playlist sorted. You’re most likely headed to a camp where technology for the campers is a big no no so they’ll appreciate it when you play music on your iPod a lot!
7. What is your best/favourite camp memory?
There’s way too many and it’s stressing me out trying to think of just one so I’ll go for something that doesn’t involve friends and campers.
I have great memories of watching sunsets over the lake and seeing huge thunderstorms roll in at night. My summer camp is in New England and the weather is way more extreme than anything you may have seen in the UK, well worth looking forward to.
8. What is/was your favourite camp food?
9. What is/was your favourite camp cheer/chant?
10. What is your favourite camp saying/word/expression?
That’s a hard one and certainly subject to yearly changes. “Thank you so much” is a contender but only when said in your finest American accent.
11. Where did you travel to after camp (if you travelled)?
My favourite places I’ve travelled in the US are Brooklyn, NY, Portland, OR and Santa Monica in Los Angeles, CA.
If you’re looking to travel, wait until you get to camp before making arrangements. Although some preparation is good there’ll be plenty of other people in the same boat who’ll be looking for travel companions.
12. How has camp influenced you/who you are/what you do?
Camp has influenced my life hugely and with every summer that goes by I become a happier, harder working, more confident version of myself. Camp is great for building self-esteem in both campers and staff alike. My own experiences have inspired me to return to education and I am hoping to start a degree in children’s nursing next year.
13. What is the BEST thing about being a summer camp counselor?
The best thing about being a summer camp counselor is returning year after year, watching your first group of campers grow and knowing how excited you’ll be to see each other on opening day the next year.
Another huge plus is getting to work day in and day out with your best friends in beautiful surroundings, there’s not many people who can say they spend 3 months of the year doing that!
14. What’s the WORST thing?
As much as I love almost all things camp there are few competitors in the running for what I dislike the most. Bug bites, lack of sleep, mildew and failed tie-dye attempts have all driven me to tears before. Anyone that thinks I’m being over dramatic hasn’t worked the dreaded week 6 before (am I right?)
15. What’s the most important thing that camp has taught you?
The most important thing that camp has taught me is that I enjoy working with children enough to make it a career. I had never thought about working with children long term before my first summer at camp, but as the years have gone by it’s become clearer and clearer that it’s what I want to do.
I would encourage anyone who plans on working in any childcare capacity long term to work a summer at camp first. The amount you’ll learn in the few months you spend at camp will be invaluable in the future.
16. Anything else you want to say to people thinking about working at summer camp?
If you like working with kids and are ready to work hard then there’s no better way to spend a summer! What are you waiting for?
If you’ve worked at summer camp and would like to take part in the camp counselor of the week series, please get in touch, or comment below with your email address!