Is Camp America for you?

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For those of us who are not insanely rich in these cash-strapped times, Camp America poses as a cost-effective solution to travelling the United States.

Sure the hours are ridiculous, I was probably doing hundred hour working weeks and of course do not expect the pay to compete with a McSummer of taking orders from obese children with no manners. But there are few opportunities which offer two months in foreign sunshine with the possibility of extra travelling at the end of the agreed contract. Certainly, I can admit without any shame, the reason I applied to work at a camp in Connecticut in 2010 was merely to travel elsewhere afterwards. Namely, I expected to spend my summer counting down in my head as to when I could visit the big lights of New York City for the first time.

However, in a complete contrast to the first year I applied; my application in 2011 to a summer camp near Boston was one fuelled solely by a love of the camp experience. In 2010, I couldn’t think further than travelling around the East Coast fulfilling the novels and television shows I’d spent my teenage years obsessing over. But one year on all I wanted to do was wake up every day on camp and teach tennis, basketball, canoeing, Quidditch; you name it, I’ve had the pleasure of leading a session in it.

I mean that isn’t to say I haven’t travelled this summer, my small wages managed to stretch me to South Beach in Miami for a week with twelve of my friends; to Orlando; to Las Vegas; the Grand Canyon; Boston; New York. Moreover, I even managed to ‘sky-jump’ off the Stratosphere hotel on the Vegas strip. Perhaps, I even spent fifty bucks on renting a scooter in Miami, and drove around the art deco district feeling like an actor in a horrible underpriced film aimed at fans of Miami Vice. Who knows? For I left out the details of my scooter hire when recounting the summer to my mother.  It should definitely be noted that when looking at the pay for summer camp employees, the USA offers much more bite for your dollars.Both years I had amazing times during the travelling after camp. But, crucially, whilst it can puzzle someone who has never experienced an American summer camp to hear; working at the camp is the best bit of the summer by an American mile!

Perhaps the warning signs were always present: A twenty year old student with a hidden love for silliness and extravagant games with water guns and spray paint; camp managed to draw out of me a sustained level of excitement I thought only possible in children under the age of five. The experience has given freedom to a creativity and passion that can only help me going forward into the world of work.

There was a distinct point, about halfway through the summer, while I was eating a watermelon it occurred to me that my most pressing problem at that moment was how I was to deter a cunning group of chipmunks from stealing food from my campers when we left the cabin. Upon later reflection I have realised this is probably the sort of intensity I would like all my problems to continue to be.

I cannot explain if working at a summer camp in the USA is for you. I hardly even know you. My title has perhaps been misleading. But I can say with relative assurance that skills and experience is rather secondary to enthusiasm and excitement and if this or other articles have perhaps left you wondering about working at a summer camp in the USA – then have a look at Bunac.org or CampAmerica.co.uk – they also have plenty of talks in universities all over the U.K. (I will note that Bunac offer a slightly better service at a far cheaper cost. Camp America is just the most famous provider.)

From merely my own experience if you are gutsy enough to fly half way around the world to try something new,  then chances are, the gutsy people who surround you may just be the best strangers you will ever meet. I can barely wait to reapply again this summer, hope to see you over there.

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