It can be hard to imagine what Summer Camp is like, especially if you’re a first time camp counsellor. Sure, you’ll have seen pictures from friends, you’ll have scrolled on the summer camps social media accounts and you’ll have spoken to a range of people telling you all about camp life.
We’re writing to give you an insight into what you can expect from Summer Camp. We’re going to keep it as transparent as possible to best prepare you for the summer of a lifetime! So grab a snack, get the tea poured, and enjoy this little read about how you can prepare for summer camp life.
Culture shock is a real thing, and it happens to a lot of counselors within the first week of camp. It is completely natural to feel out of your comfort zone at first - after all you won’t be used to living in a cabin in the middle of the woods with other counselors. It is ok to feel apprehensive when you first step off the bus and onto camp property, this is a huge decision that you’re making and you’d be inhuman to not feel slightly nervous.
CCUSA Top Tips for dealing with culture shock:
Explore Camp: We think this one is a given. You’ve just moved to another place, in the middle of the woods - you don’t know your way around and you don’t know what the camp has to offer. GO EXPLORE! The more you get to know your surroundings then the quicker you will feel comfortable and confident in them.
Appreciate your surroundings: Most of us live in a city setting, and therefore we aren’t used to the camp surroundings - this is the opportunity to forget all about the pressures of today's society and forget about your social media and EMBRACE where you are. You are in the middle of nature and it is beautiful and amazing, so just take the time to appreciate where you are.
Be open to the experience: Going to camp is a once in a lifetime opportunity for a lot of people, so allow yourself to really throw yourself into the experience! Forget about the fact it's different to what you know originally and get excited for the adventure that lies ahead. The more you throw yourself into the experience, the happier you’ll feel within your surroundings.
Although culture shock can be scary at first, if you remember these 3 top tips for dealing with it then you can overcome it. You’ll hopefully settle into your new environment and love the summer camp adventure that you’re about to embark on!
Songs, songs, and more songs:
You might be thinking “ha, no chance will I be singing. I am 100% tone deaf”, but we can promise as soon as you step onto camp, hear the first camp song and begin learning them, you’ll have no choice but to sing your summer away!
At camp you will sing approximately 18 hours of the day - from the minute you wake up until the minute you go to sleep:
7:30am - Alive, Alert, Awake, Enthusiastic
Waking the campers up doesn’t have to be a mundane everyday task - you want to have fun while working right? What’s more fun than belting out “I’M ALIVE, ALERT, AWAKE, ENTHUSIASTIC” every single morning to annoy the campers into getting out of bed and ready for their day?! NOTHING. You are the counselor after all, have fun with it and think outside the box like singing them awake!
Before flag - Enthusiastic ready for the day songs
Flag ceremony is a huge part of the American lifestyle - but before the flag ceremony, everyone meets at the flagpole, and it is the perfect opportunity to get the campers ready for the exciting day of camp activities they have ahead!
All of the counselors singing in the most enthusiastic way will get the campers excited to not only spend the day with their counselors, but will also get them feeling excited about the adventures ahead.
Going to and from activities - Loud, repeat after me songs
Keeping the campers entertained throughout the day - even when they’re walking from one activity to the next is a huge task that counselors have.
The best thing to do is to lead the line in songs. My personal favourite to sing while line leading is “Little Red Wagon”, the song gets louder, and more enthusiastic the more verses you sing, and before you know it, you’ve arrived at the next activity and the campers are RARING to go.
Before meal times - Enthusiastic songs
Meal time is an amazing time at camp - everyone is back together again, everyone is excited about the day ahead, or has had some great activities that they can’t wait to share with other counselors and campers! The best thing to do before meal times is to get the campers ready for the fun atmosphere by going through some of the most fun songs at camp before letting them into the dining hall. This also helps to keep mealtime homesickness away as the campers are so focused on having a good time with other counselors and campers that they forget all about home.
At Campfire - Fun or reflective songs
Campfire is the most important time for songs. At opening campfire we get everyone pumped for the week ahead with our most fun and upbeat songs like “Rattlin Bog”. This sets up a real fun environment and atmosphere for everyone to be in.
At closing campfire, we sing our quieter, reflective songs - the reason for this is it allows us to close the weeks that we’ve just spent with the campers and counselors. Closing campfire is all about remembering the memories you’ve created over the last few weeks with everyone, and what better way to close the week out than with some camp songs!
My advice for all you “tone deaf” people out there… get yourself a vocal coach because I can PROMISE you that you’ll be singing 24/7 while at camp and you will LOVE it!
The all important questions:
The campers absolutely LOVE the international staff! You have a funny accent, you have good stories, and you most definitely sound like that one Scottish Actor they’ve heard in films. The campers will ask you a whole host of questions ranging from:
Are there planes in Scotland?
How do you speak such good American?
Are you the girl that plays Merida from Brave?
The best thing to do is to entertain their many questions, even if that means telling some little fibs about who you are!
In 2017, I was taking my campers to the archery range and all of a sudden this camper put two and two together and found out that I am the voice of Merida from “Brave”, (I am not, I’m just a Scottish girl). However, I wasn’t going to crush this little campers dreams of meeting Merida - so I went along with it, we went to the archery range, I shot a couple of bows and we realised that I am not the best at archery - however, I was able to cover this up by saying that Merida was an animation so I didn’t actually need to arch for the movie. The campers LOVED my fib, and would often ask me “if you had the chance to change your fate, would you?”
Go along with their silly questions, tell some little fibs, give them an “insight” into your life. The campers love you and just want to spend time finding out all about your life back home, seeing your flag and money and learning some of the slang that comes from your country. These are some of the best times you can have with your campers, so cherish them, spend the time answering their questions and being the international camp counsellor they love.
A lot of FUN:
F is for friends who do stuff together
U is for you and me
N is for anywhere and everywhere at all
Spongebob got it right didn’t he? Camp is all about making new friends and having the most fun. You get to take part in so many activities with friends like horseback riding, rock climbing, ropes courses, canoeing, and riding the slip n slide with your camp besties.
Camp is about taking those fun risks like zipping down the zip-line, or jumping fully clothed in the water just because you’re at camp and want to make the most of your summer! My best advice would be to try everything, to take risks, and push the boundaries of trying things you never thought you would before! Camp has this amazing support system, in that, everyone is rooting you on as you grow and take those super fun risks!
Take the leap of faith on the zip-line, or dive into that pool fully clothed! As long as you’re having fun, and teaching the campers to grab life by the hands and experience everything on offer then you will be a great camp counsellor and have a great summer!
Camp can be pretty stressful, and when everything is happening so fast it might seem like crisis after crisis. Something our camp director told us when we started was to always keep metaphorical pieces of paper in our pockets: one saying "this is the most important work you'll ever do" and one saying "it's just camp". I promise this is some of the best advice you can take to camp with you!
Basically, whenever you are faced with a decision - which will be approx 4,302 times per day - decide which piece of paper is true in that moment. Is a kid having a meltdown because her socks are on the wrong feet? That's just camp. Did your tie-dye run and now you have a kinda ugly brown t-shirt? That's just camp. But, did a kid tell you that you've given her the confidence to sing and dance in front of new people? That's the most important work you'll ever do. Did you teach a camper how to swim? That's the most important work you'll ever do.
So remember that when you are faced with crisis after crisis at camp to think "is this the most important work I'll ever do?" or "Is this just camp?" because I can promise you that 99% of the time the answer will be “its just camp”.
We hope this blog post has given you a little insight into “What to expect from Summer Camp”. Now go out there and grab summer by the arms - inspire confidence in campers and counselors, be the best version of yourself and HAVE FUN! After all, that is what Summer Camp is all about!
If you're interested in becoming a Camp Counsellor with CCUSA then come along to our camp fairs and speak to camp directors face-to-face. https://www.ccusa.co.uk/MORE-INFORMATION/Camp-Fairs and apply now for the Summer of a Lifetime: https://footprints.ccusa.com/