Have you been keeping up with the Camp Counselor of the Week series recently? In the last few weeks we’ve heard from Anne, Rachel and Max about their summers at camp, and this week it’s the turn of Will, who is about to head to camp for his 3rd summer in a row!
1. Where did you go to camp? How many years?
I work at Camp Nashoba North in rural Maine and will be returning for my 3rd summer this year!
2. Why did you decide to work at summer camp?
The idea of working abroad and travelling has always excited me and was probably the main reason I applied for camp. I had also just moved to university at the time and had plenty of friends who took a gap year after school and travelled abroad. So I had a look online to see what kind of work abroad and travel opportunities there was for students who only had the summer off. I came across a summer camp agency and without thinking filled out a quick application which probably took 15 minutes. The start of my adventure had begun and I could not have dreamed what was in stall for me.
3. What agency did you apply to camp through and would you choose them again/how did you find their service?
For the 3rd year in a row I am applying through Camp Leaders. I initially went through their sister agency USA Summer Camp but found that the two agencies are combined into one.
I found their application easy to complete and the customer service was on point. They replied to any emails I sent them within 24 hours and were very easy to talk to over the phone. When I first applied I had a stockpile of questions to ask simply because my knowledge of summer camps was very limited at the time, however Camp leaders held a preparation day about 8 weeks before I flew out and told you everything you should expect at camp as well as the do’s and the don’ts.
4. What is/was your role at camp?
In my first year at camp I was hired as a boat driver (a non teaching roll), this was a skill I had been very fortunate to have in the UK and was fully certified. I had an idea in my head at what it would be like to cruise around a New England lake on a motorboat and was one of the main reasons why applied for camp. It certainly didn’t disappoint and I also learnt to waterski! I was invited back the following year by my camp director and was offered the position to teach waterskiing, a chance I was very happy to take up partly because the ski boat was a far more equipped boat than the one I had driven the year before. I was fully trained on how to teach this activity and found the teaching role extremely rewarding.
Working with kids was obviously a massive role that every camp counsellor had and for me personally it was something I had very little experience with. Not to worry! My camp gave all counsellors extensive training on how to deal with certain situations like home sickness and bullying, the returning staff were very helpful with helping us newbies out.
5. Did camp meet your expectations? In what ways?
I had very little expectations on the flight over for my first year and had a real sense of adventure, I really didn’t know if the next 2 months would be enjoyable or not. I was really putting my self outside of my comfort zone and had very little idea of what to expect.
However I was amazed at how much I could be myself at a place half way across the world with a load of people I had never met before! Within the first week it had felt like I had known the other staff members for years and felt very comfortable in my surroundings.
6. What 3 essential items would you never go to camp without?
A water bottle, Sleeveless t shirts and an open mind.
7. What is your best/favourite camp memory?
I could possibly write a book on the amount of great memories I have at camp but I’m no J.K Rowling. However I did have an unreal experience on the lake when I was driving a boat and a bald eagle flew no more than 10 feet to the left of my boat and simply plucked a sunfish out of the water and flew away with it in its claws. It was something you expect to see on a David Attenborough nature documentary.
But there is nothing more rewarding when you see a kid achieve something that you had taught them and they are truly grateful for. Working with kids is why I have returned year after year and it gives you a great sense of achievement and pride seeing them progress and learn new skills
8. What is/was your favourite camp food?
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!! I had heard about them but never tried them before I went to camp. I was not disappointed!
9. What is/was your favourite camp cheer/chant?
“Sharing is caring”
10. What is your favourite camp saying/word/expression?
“lets channel our excitement into silence” always gets the kids quiet.
11. Where did you travel to after camp (if you travelled)?
I went on a one week road trip with 3 other camp counsellors passing through New Hampshire, Boston and New York City before flying back to the UK. A once in a lifetime experience which I managed on a tight budget as well!
12. How has camp influenced you/who you are/what you do?
Working at camp has given me the confidence to go on and really succeed in life. It taught me to try new things that you may not be entirely comfortable in doing but have incredible rewards.
Probably the biggest aspect it has influenced me on is hard work and how pushing yourself can really bring the best out of you. You will be asked to work hard at camp and it is no holiday but it can be an experience which you will never forget and have an amazing time doing.
13. What is the BEST thing about being a summer camp counsellor?
The whole experience is the best thing for sure but seeing kid’s learn new skills you have taught them and having a big influence in their life is extremely rewarding.
Working with people from all walks of life and from all over the world is one of the best things of being a counsellor, it improves your people skills and brings together people you would have never met doing anything else.
14. What’s the WORST thing?
Probably how tired you get. You work over 12 hours a day and most of the time in the hot sun, but you have an incredible support group of staff members and friends who motivate you! You also do get time off and it’s important to use that wisely and recharge your batteries.
15. What the most important thing that camp has taught you?
To reward hard work and to be myself.
16. Anything else you want to say to people thinking about working at summer camp?
“Do it now. Sometimes later becomes never.