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My experience of US summer camps

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What comes to mind you think of childhood summers? Rock climbing, water skiing, a spot of archery? No, me neither, but that’s the reality for thousands of American children who attend Summer Camp every year. 

Elena Hunt - Summer CampI spent the best part of ten days travelling around the East coast of America visiting a variety of different summer camps. I emphasise the fact that it was a variety because each camp was different from the last, whether that be who attends or the activities they offer or even the size of the camp itself. 

On my trip I was able to speak with lots of British participants who had gone to America to spend their summer working as a counsellor. Essentially, counsellors make up the main core of staff as they provide the teaching skills element to summer camps and are generally responsible for a set group of children. 

Many counsellors are from overseas and camp directors love having staff from all over the world as it increases the diversity of the camp and the children get to learn about new cultures. Most counsellors are hired because they have a certain skill to offer; perhaps experience in a sport or musical ability, although some camps look for general counsellors who should be confident with kids. 

Some aspects of camp were just as I had imagined them: wooden cabins, huge campfires all surrounded by luscious woodland, and others were not, for example I didn’t know that some had such impressive facilities like fully equipped theatres or working radio stations. The opportunities on offer are not exclusively for the campers, many counsellors have used their summers to learn a new skill and some are even teaching their new activity instead. 

Camps are such lively and fun places, I think the main quality a counsellor needs is enthusiasm. 

The counsellors have such amazing and infectious energy it’s easy to see why kids keep returning year after year to teams of people whose priority is making sure they have the best time possible. Counsellors should also be prepared to throw themselves into every part of camp life as they participate in camp-outs, colour wars and the occasional song and dance. 

After seeing so many camps it’s hard to differentiate between them all but one thing was consistent and that was the wonderful, happy atmosphere that surrounded each one. 

Camp seems like the perfect environment for young people to make new friends and not worry about the rest of the world. Many counsellors told me how they get into the ‘bubble’of camp where they forget what day or week it is and just embrace camp life. 

As I walked away from one camp, the sun was setting against an impressive waterfront and the sound of campfire songs carried in the breeze. It’s not hard to see why so many children choose to spend their summers at camp and even easier to see why so many British people do.  

Fancy an amazing summer in the USA? Sign up today - www.bunac.org/uk/work-abroad/summer-camp/summer-camp-exchange-usa

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