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Keiley's profile picture

Keiley

2009

YMCA Reston

Virginia

Account Manager

"I didn’t apply for camp until I was already selected! I had gone with my best friend Amy Chenery to the open day in London to meet potential camps for her and to see what it was all about… and we were both selected for a day camp in the DC area – YMCA, Reston VA. I wasn’t even thinking about doing it myself until I met Jason Haley that day.  I didn’t have an application or have a process and I certainly hadn’t told my parents until I had already signed and agreed to do camp 2009. Camp chose me.

Many of my memories of camp are great although I remember a day where we played pranks on the other camp counsellors. One of which involved a VW car being wrapped in cling film and sprayed with mustard. The kids found it so funny, they were talking about it until the last day of camp.

I had no expectation of camp as I was genuinely happy to be in the US. The camp I worked on was an ‘Outdoor Camp’ so I expected a great tan. Little did I know how hard it was to have 5mins without a kid asking where Miss Keiley was….

The friendships and relationships that were made in 2009 have only grown. My host family are ‘Family’ to me now and I have recently got married. My photographer at the wedding was my ‘Host Mom’ at camp and she and her family flew over to me in August 2018 for my big day where she captured every minute.

Camp made me realise that there is more to life than the small town I live in and that there is a whole world to be seen. I went on to have a job within the Travel Industry working for a large UK tour operator overseas. I’ve lived and worked in 3 countries since camp and now work in a different industry but still around international travel where I mention to many clients that I’ve lived and worked in the US with kids at a YMCA camp. Many of my clients / colleagues often ask how old I was when I had this amazing year and are often surprised when I answer them with 18 years old. I am currently working in sales and advertising for a magazine which enables me to travel internationally and have clients all over the world including the US. I honestly believe that camp had given me the ‘kick up the bum' I needed as an 18-year-old and encouraged me to see the world.

I would recommend Camp America because of the memories and the relationships that you build when at camp and living with a host family. I’m now 28 so camp was 10 years ago, and I still think about the kids, the hours, the food, the fun and the endless amount of Cheetos I ate in that summer. More importantly I recommend because of the freedom it gave me. YES, is one thing i would say to people considering camp. Stop worrying about the “what if’s” and the “but why don’t I…” thoughts in your head. I wouldn’t worry about all the bits of paper work or the annoying trip to the embassy. If you are thinking about doing it, then do it.

10 years ago, there wasn’t WhatsApp like there is now, but we used Facebook. All my camp friends are on there and we share photos of camp every now and then on Time Hop. My best friend Amy and I are still the closest of friends and still laugh to this day that if I hadn’t had gone with her to the open day and met Jason with her, our lives would have been very different.

Amy and I went on to do a trek after camp. We have SO MANY STORIES from the trek and some not worthy to write down. Another one of our camp mates came on the trek too and we have some amazing pictures from seeing the sites of the states."

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