If you feel like getting away from the drizzly, low 20’s Celsius summers we have here in England, why not spend your time doing something amazing in America. Working at a summer camp for nine weeks and then travelling for up to thirty days afterwards, was the best thing I ever did! My name is James Lappin, and I want to spread the word about an opportunity I was lucky enough to come across early last academic year. I spent 3 months of my summer away from home, meeting lots of new people, exploring lots of new places and having a lot of fun! I worked at a summer camp in the heart of Bridgton, Maine. I Taught skateboarding to kids aged 8-15, and also got involved in other activities the camp offered to campers too! Any hobby or interest of yours you may have, I can almost guarantee there is a camp somewhere from California to Massachusetts that will want to employ you to lead or assist in teaching their kids that exact same thing.
When I say summer camp you probably conjure up images of people singing songs around a camp fire, making real American s’mores and people randomly bursting into songs and cheers in the dining hall, and you’d be right! But more than that are the experiences you’ll share with your kids, the relationships you will build, and the things that you will share. Not to mention the memories you will surely make with your colleagues, who don’t really feel like colleagues and instead are like members of a very special family. For example, on one of our days off we drove a camp van of thirteen of us and two full cars out into the forests of Maine to go to a cliff diving spot called “The Frenchman’s Hole” (Yep, that’s right). When we arrived it was pouring with rain, and people were running to their cars to get out of the rain. Me, my American friend Drake and my Kiwi friend Cody however, saw this as opportunity as people were leaving so it meant the spot would be quieter! So leaving those apparently fearful of a little rain and thunder, ran out of the van and into the rain. But this being the middle of summer in Maine it was still warm. The slight storm soon passed and I had one of the best days ever hanging out with everyone in the middle of the forest, jumping off a 14ft cliff into a natural pool halfway up a mountain. It was definitely one to tick off the bucket list, and brought us all closer together.
At camp your Job is essentially getting paid to facilitate a fun and spontaneous environment for your campers, so you will have fun! Bear in mind being a camp counselor is no easy job, it might be one of the most challenging jobs you’ve done so far, but I guarantee you’ll love it all the same. Because you spend your days laughing, and creating memories that will last a lifetime, with children you will grow to love so much that you’ll cry when they leave. When you first meet the kids that you’ll be sharing a cabin with, they will ask you a million questions because of your funny accent. But over the next few weeks you will earn their respect and get to know your kids really well. Depending on the age of your kids, a lot of them will really open up to you and tell you things they might not want to talk to about with their friends, and it’s so rewarding to work with these kids and see how they have developed over the summer. You will be like a big brother or sister to them, and even the same with kids outside of your bunk. You won’t be the only Brit there either, most camps employ a good sized group of international staff. My camp for example had people from the UK, New Zealand, South Africa and the Ukraine! It was awesome getting to meet people from such a variety of backgrounds.
Alongside having one of the best adventures of your life, you will gain valuable and transferable skills that will look outstanding on a CV. You will learn to organize your time, gain valuable leadership skills and grow your professional confidence by working with people and children from all different walks of life. You will grow as a person at camp. You will become more independent, as you walk into a whole new environment with a whole new set of people. It might seem scary at first, I know I was nervous, but if you do it I can guarantee you’ll be smiling to yourself on the plane back to England thinking “That was the best summer of my life.” Spending your summer in a beautiful setting, with top notch weather and an adventure around every corner will be the best summer you ever have!