This seems to be something quite a lot of first time counselors are worried most about, especially if they are travelling on their own to camp. I was fortunate in that I had 5 other people travelling with me to camp all the way from London (thank you BUNAC for that awesome group flight!), so I wasn’t too worried. But if this is your first time travelling by yourself, the thought of making your own way all the way to camp from the airport can be quite daunting.
So how does it all work? Well obviously I can’t answer this question for absolutely everyone, as you will all be flying into different airports and going to different camps, but let me start by giving you a few things you will all need to do:
1. Print out a copy of the travel instructions your camp send you (most camps will have some form of intructions to help you with your journey). Make a few copies – put one in your hand luggage, one in your suitcase, and maybe even save a copy to your phone. Just in case.
2. Have your camp’s phone number saved somewhere. You will need to call your camp as soon as you arrive in America to let them know you have made it Stateside!
3. Have an idea of how your journey is going to go. This will help you feel far more prepared. Are you going to get a bus, are your camp picking you up (lucky!), or are you taking the subway or train?
Speaking from personal experience, I fly into New York – JFK and then I have to make my way to Grand Central Station, where I then get on a train to a place called Wassaic.
It’s the journey from JFK into Manhattan that worries most people, and seeing as thousands of you will be doing that same journey this summer (many camps are located in the surrounding areas), I thought I’d break it down for you.
There are basically 2 different ways you can get from JFk to Grand Central (GC). Firstly you can take the shuttle bus all the way from the airport to right outside GC station for $16 (price correct at time of writing). It’s super easy and it’s really obvious where to get the bus from when you come out from baggage claim. It’s a white and green bus and there will most likely be a queue next to it. So if you’re worried about the journey, this is probably your best bet. However, depending on the time of day, it’s really hard to determine how long the bus is going to take – I’ve done it in half an hour before, but it’s also taken nearly 3 hours once when we got stuck in traffic going into the city!
The second option is to take the subway. And it’s really not as scary as it sounds. I much prefer this route because it’s cheaper (only $7.75) and I can predict how long it’s going to take (approx 1 hour).
So if you choose to get the subway from JFK to Grand Central, this is how it goes:
Step 1: Look for the signs that point to the ‘AirTrain’. Go to the AirTrain and buy a ticket ($5)
Step 2: Take the AirTrain to SUTPHIN BOULEVARD subway stop.
Step 3: Purchase a ticket to ride the subway – this is just a regular Metro card ticket ($2.75).
Step 4: Get on the ‘E’ train (blue line) and ride it all the way to the stop at LEXINGTON AV/53rd ST.
Step 5: Change to the 4, 5, or 6 train (green line) and go ONE STOP (downtown) to GRAND CENTRAL/42nd ST.
Step 6: Exit the train and you have arrive at Grand Central Station!
Simpler than you thought?
And then it’s just a matter of following your camp’s specific instructions for your onward travel.
*NOTE: I would also hugely recommend downloading the NYC Subway app, as it tell you exactly what to do and has helped me out heaps in the past!