Camp Counselor of the Week: Katie Bell

Wow, Wednesday has come around quickly! Last week in the ‘Counselor of the Week’ series, we heard from Dom, who is about to head back to camp for his second summer. This week it’s Katie’s turn to tell us all about her summer camp adventures!

Summer Camp Counselor

1. Where did you go to camp? How many years?

I went to YMCA Camp Mohawk for girls in Litchfield, CT. I went there a grand total of 6 times between 2003 and 2012 – couldn’t tear myself away!

2. Why did you decide to work at summer camp?

I had always wanted to visit the US and always enjoyed working with children, so when a friend told me she was going to go along to a camp recruitment fair during our first year of uni, I decided to tag along to check it out. The rest is history!

3. What agency did you apply to camp through and would you choose them again/how did you find their service?

For my first year, I was hired at a Camp America recruitment fair, so completed my application through them. They are obviously the big name that everyone knows, but I found them to be quite impersonal and very expensive. For my second summer, I decided to switch to BUNAC and continued to use them every time after that. I found their application process much easier to follow and their staff were a lot more attentive and personal.

4. What is/was your role at camp?

I actually had 3 different roles over my 6 summers! I spent my first year as a Cabin Counsellor/Riding Instructor, my second and third years as the Stable Manager and my last 3 years as the Riding Director, where I was in charge of the whole riding programme.

Summer Camp Counselor

5. Did camp meet your expectations? In what ways?

It was everything I thought it would be and more. Cheesy, I know! I made so many good friends, I was able to do something I loved and get paid for it and it felt like a home away from home.

6. What 3 essential items would you never go to camp without?

Torch, rain coat and bug spray – best to be prepared!

7. What is your best/favourite camp memory?

There was normally 1 night every summer when there was a meteor shower – if the sky was clear enough that night, all of the kids and staff would be allowed to bring blankets and sleeping bags down to the ball field for a couple of hours before bed time and watch the shooting stars. I’ve never seen so many anywhere else in the world.

8. What is/was your favourite camp food?

Taco Tuesday! Closely followed by a huge roast turkey dinner on the last night of each 2 week session.

9. What is/was your favourite camp cheer/chant?

Little Red Wagon – our camp director particularly enjoyed leading renditions of this himself at meal times!

Summer Camp Counselor

10. What is your favourite camp saying/word/expression?

‘Shoot for the moon – even if you fail, you’ll land among the stars’. Or the classic…. ‘It’s the hardest job you’ll ever love’. So very true!

11. Where did you travel to after camp (if you travelled)?

I wish I had travelled more, but I did manage to make it to New York, Boston, Cape Cod and South Carolina. I would’ve loved to have gone further West as well. Hopefully I still will one day!

12. How has camp influenced you/who you are/what you do?

I first went to camp when I had just finished my first year at university and I had never been abroad by myself before, so it definitely made me grow up and become more independent pretty quickly! I also decided I loved it so much that I wanted to work in the summer camp industry full time, so now I work for BUNAC as the Summer Camp Co-ordinator. It really has shaped my whole life over the past 12 years!

Summer Camp Counselor

13. What is the BEST thing about being a summer camp counsellor?

Getting paid to essentially have fun, be silly and do what you love doing for the whole summer. And having the great opportunity to travel around afterwards!

14. What’s the WORST thing?

The fact that it’s only a summer position and you can’t stay forever! And the bugs if your camp is out in the woods somewhere, although you do get used to these pretty quickly!

15. What the most important thing that camp has taught you?

To be patient and to be more considerate of others. I met so many kids and other staff members over my 6 summers at camp and everyone has their own story to tell and their own way of dealing with things. Sometimes we can definitely learn more from others than we might first think.

16. Anything else you want to say to people thinking about working at summer camp?

Do it now!!! I’ve never met anyone who regretted going to camp and I can confidently say it’s still the best decision I ever made. It really could change your life.

Summer Camp Counselor

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