So it’s that time of year again: you are back from the Christmas holidays, you’ve partied hard, you are looking ahead to the summer but don't know exactly what it is you are looking ahead to, or perhaps you have taken a gap year and are tired of that job you took in September to earn some money. Stuck for ideas? Let me recommend one to you: working at a summer camp in the USA. Ok, I know, it sounds pretty crazy – why, I hear you ask, would I want to spend my summer looking after 300 children who are running wild every minute of the day? The answer: because it’s awesome, because you’ll have fun, because you can travel and because it looks great on your CV.
I started out in 2006 during my second year of university - I had just returned from spending nine weeks in Australia over the summer and I was all set to go out there again the next year. However, I had summer camp recommended to me by my parents who had heard from the daughter of a family friend how good it was to spend a summer working at camp. I said to myself, why not? The adventure began…
Eight years later, I can’t quite imagine my life without at least a few weeks spent at Camp Kennybrook in upstate New York every summer – working at camp is every bit as good as I had heard and more. Having applied to work at camp through Camp Leaders (http://www.campleaders.com
) I got taken on as a counselor and lifeguard at Kennybrook and headed out for the first time in 2007.
Cue nine amazing, hilarious, fun-packed, exhausting, emotional and thoroughly enjoyable weeks spent looking after a cabin full of energetic campers, lifeguarding at the camp’s outdoor pool in (nearly always) beautiful weather, getting involved in activities I had never done before and meeting new people from all across the world – you can really see why I rant on about it so much.
The chance to make a difference in people’s lives was there too – towards the end of the summer, I was given the fantastic opportunity to work at a camp where every child had lost a parent or relative in 9/11 – what a rewarding experience that was. My experiences at Camp Kennybrook that first summer left a lasting impression on me and I’ve been back every summer since.
Of course, a major benefit of working at camp is the opportunity to travel afterwards, and what a country the USA is! Whether having a flutter on the tables in a Las Vegas casino is your thing, or bear spotting in Yellowstone, or whitewater rafting in Alaska, or riding the Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls, there’s something for everyone. I found that one of the benefits of going back to camp more than once is that you have the opportunity to see it all. I’d like to say that I have travelled widely in the USA (I have now visited all 50 states!), but I could go back for another ten years and still not see everything I want to see – that’s the amazing thing about it.
So if you’re stuck for something to do this summer or you have always wanted to work at summer camp, head to http://www.campleaders.com
– you won’t regret it. The staff are great and ready to help with your application. Three words: go for it. Who knows, in six months’ time, you might find yourself in some far-flung American location, painting most of your body yellow in the spirit of camper entertainment – although a word of advice, acrylic paint does not wash off!