A Summer Camp Experience
My friend's older sister went to work a season at a summer camp in America and she didn't stop talking about her experience for months. That's probably where I first got the idea, though I remember seeing programmes and films as a child which romanticised the summer camp counsellor experience.
I first applied in August - the earlier the better - and it wasn't until November when I found out I had been successful. To be honest I wasn't sure I would be accepted as I had heard the financial crisis meant they didn't need as many staff these days, saying that, there were plenty of adverts for staff. I had some experience helping out with my local guides, so I applied to be a counselor, which basically involves being a mentor for the children, but also helping supervise the day to day events. Realistically, quite a few camps expect you to pitch in and help with a bit of everything, which is fair enough and makes the days more varied. If you have done some sports coaching that definitely helps your chances of being selected. Quite a lot of the people I ended up working with had sports teaching experience.
Anyway, I was placed at a residential summer camp for girls, in the state of Maine. I had no idea where it was when they told me, but once I knew I was accepted and where I was going, I did lots of online research, trying to find out everything I could about what to expect.
Arriving at the camp was fantastic. The location was amazing, right by a huge lake and lots of pine forests; pretty much exactly as I had pictured it over the last few months. I am sure some accommodation is basic, but the camp I was at was pretty luxurious so I must have been lucky. We had less than a week to settle in before the children started arriving.
The day to day work was fun... most of the time! It was great to see the children learning new skills and helping them get over their fears. Occasionally a child would be quite rude, but the massive majority were happy and just as excited to be there as we were. Well, almost. I really enjoyed the swimming and canoeing on the lake, and the meals were pretty good too. Meeting lots of new people and making friends I am sure I will keep in touch with for many years, plus getting to see some of the local area on our days off. Lots of favourite bits really. I would recommend working at a summer camp to everyone. You don't make tones of money, but it isn't really about that. It's the experience, and it will be the best you've ever had. Get your application in - you won't regret it.