Returning to Camp with BUNAC: And Just Like That, It’s Over

This month has been a whirlwind of activity, with summer camp coming to an end after an incredible 8 weeks, and then moving into our Fall season. I can’t quite believe that the kids are gone, most of the staff are gone, and summer really is over.

Olympics Day Opening Ceremony summer camp usa
Olympics Day Opening Ceremony

But let’s go back to the start of August – we kicked off the month with our final 2-week session. Session 4 brings a whole different vibe to the previous few weeks. While we still had a massive number of campers, everything just felt way more relaxed. People had made it through the halfway hard days and now everyone was just trying to soak up all the camp magic in their last few weeks.

Olympics Day Opening Ceremony summer camp usa
Camp sunsets are the best, don’t you think?

In the middle of the session, we had our all-camp Olympics. The day was a huge success, and just So. Much. Fun. Theme days are the absolute best – everyone gets super into it, campers and counselors included, and when the winner was finally announced, the winning team (ENGLAND!!!) went absolutely crazy!

I had a couple of really fun days off this month too. For the first one, some friends and I rented an airbnb about an hour’s drive from camp. We went out for dinner, got to the apartment (which was super nice), watched tv on the huge projector screen, and got an incredible night’s sleep, before heading to a diner and the mall the next day. American mall’s are the best. I don’t even want to buy that much stuff (although I did go a little crazy in some of my favourite shops), I just like how ‘American’ they are. It’s just everything you would imagine it to be.

summer camp usa friends
Camp friends are the BEST

On another day off I went to my Executive Director’s house for the 9-course home-cooked dinner that myself and some others had won in the staff auction at the start of the summer. The food was INCREDIBLE. Fruits, cheeses, pasta, soup, fish, chocolate cake… I could go on. Well worth the money spent.

Summer camp dinner chef
Dinner courtesy of Chef Bear

And then all of a sudden, we were into the very last week of camp. I always find this week kind of bittersweet. It’s really fun and relaxed because we have less campers, and things are winding down so there is a little more time to just get out and soak up all the camp energy, but then it also makes me sad, because everything we’ve been doing is coming to an end. Yes, I’m still at camp for our Fall season, which I love, but it’s just not quite the same as when camp is filled with kids and laughter and excitement all day long.

Summer camp usa square dance
Square Dance… 5, 6, 7, 8!

After an epic week, with some very special moments, such as our last Closing Campfire and ceremonies, it was finally time to say goodbye to these kids that we’d had the pleasure of caring for this summer. Some had only come for a week, but others had been there for almost the entire summer. I’d already said goodbye to our Junior Counselors the previous week, which was hard enough (some of them, I’ve know since they were tiny little kids and it was such an honour to work with them on staff this summer), but seeing these campers go, some of whom we’ve watched learn and grow remarkably over the summer, was pretty hard.

Summer camp supervisors usa
What a great team of Supervisors!

Once all the campers had left, it was time for one last push to get camp all cleaned up and checked out before we could enjoy our staff banquet together. It was quite strange being the one who got to do the checking out of Villages and activity areas this time. There have been so many aspects of my new job this summer that I’d never really thought about before, and it’s been really cool to be on the other side of things, behind the scenes a bit more.

summer camp boats smiles
I drive boats too!

The staff banquet was so much fun – we gave out lots of awards to counselors and supervisors who had really worked their butts off and gone above an beyond all summer. I even got to give out our ‘Best of the Best’ awards, which was a HUGE honour, having watched these speeches being made and the sparkling white shirts being given out each year before this. But once the banquet was over, and one last night had been spent at camp, it was time to get people to the station and off on their travels, or on their way home. I hate goodbyes, especially when it’s with best friends who live on the other side of the world and I don’t know when the next time I’ll see them is. That’s the amazing and awful thing about camp. You make friends from all over the world and get to learn about all different cultures and experiences, but then when the summer’s over, those people are just so far away.

Summer camp boats usa
Boat life is the good life

And now, after some tears and emotional ‘see you laters’, we’re into our Fall season. There’s about 10 of us left now and over the last few weeks we’ve had school and college groups come to camp for their orientations or for some leadership training. I absolutely love working with these groups and seeing how their personalities come out as you play different games and challenge them in various ways. Watching them all bond and sending them back off to college having made new friends or having learnt something about themselves makes all the hard work worth it. Again, my role is slightly different this year, and I’m more leading our staff, and teaching them how to be great facilitators, just as my mentors taught me. But it’s really interesting to see how they all work and it’s so nice to be able to pass on all the things I’ve learnt over the last 8 summers.

summer camp usa iced coffee
Last morning coffee runs!

The most exciting thing about this month though, is that our Family Camp starts tomorrow! And this year it’s not just any Family Camp. This weekend we’re celebrating Camp Sloane’s 90th year and there are so many people coming back to camp to celebrate with us – people whom I haven’t seen since my very first summer here. I cannot wait to reconnect with old friends and enjoy what I hope is going to be an incredible few days with some of the people who made me fall in love with camp in the first place!

**I’m returning to camp this summer with BUNAC who have been sending people just like you to camp for many years. Get in touch with them via their websiteFacebookTwitter or Instagram, by phoning them on +44 333 999 7516 or by email at enquiries@bunac.org.uk.**

Disclaimer: BUNAC are waiving my camp fees in return for this blog series, but please rest assured that all opinions are honest and my own.

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