Sky High Ranch
''I applied to Camp America as my first trip during my gap year. Although not my first time travelling alone, I wanted to begin it in a way where I had time to find my feet and find a family, as it were, to help me gain confidence for the future. I had worked with children plenty of times before and found it fun, so it seemed perfect!
My favourite memory of the summer was taking an impromptu day trip from our camp in Colorado to the Four Corners, with three of my friends. It took 8 hours each way, so we left at 6am, stayed for an hour or two in the 100°F degree heat and ended up getting back home around midnight! We survived purely on jolly ranchers and oreo cereal all day – it was amazing.
I went into camp thinking that it was going to be a long holiday and we would have so much free time to do whatever and then would look after kids every so often. But it truly is a job; we worked 22 hours 6 days a week. But you fall in love with the job. You love your kids and the work and the time you spend entertaining them. It’s a job that doesn’t feel like a job; it’s hard to explain. I preferred it so much more than what I was expecting.
During my time at camp, I actually realised my sexuality and met my girlfriend: another counsellor. Although she is American, and I am from the UK, we have been together close to two years now and I am so grateful every day for camp bringing us together. I am also still in contact with several other counsellors and even a few campers. Although I am not able to reapply due to university, I went back to visit the camp for a day the summer after I worked there, and it felt like returning home!
I would absolutely recommend the programme and I have done several times. I know there is the whole ‘finding yourself at camp’ cliché - but it truly did happen to me and I know it did for my friends too. It is an amazing experience that I wish I could do again and again and again.
I definitely preferred working with the older girl scouts and since I was only 18 at the time, we became more friends than anything. I had one girl who was bullying a lot of the other campers in our unit because she thought it made her cool and popular. But the longer she was with me and the more she started to trust me, the more we talked, and it turned out she actually had a lot of anxiety problems. I tried to help her as much as I could and in the end her mum wrote in expressing specific gratitude towards me for that week and it felt lovely.
Camp friends are different to other friends because you see each other at your highs and your lows, help each other through stressful situations and personal events and that mid-summer slump; you truly have each other’s backs. That isn’t something that just disappears when you separate at the end of the season.
I didn’t travel after camp as much as some others, I went to stay at the house of my girlfriend who I had met at camp and then went to NYC before flying home and starting my gap year elsewhere. However, I know a few people who travelled around the US right up until that visa deadline, moving from city to city to city. I always regret not doing that.
My favourite thing about being a counsellor was the bonds that you build with your campers and fellow counsellors. You really do get to watch people grow and learn, even in just a week. My camp was a Girl Scout camp and it was great because almost all the girls were well behaved!! Camp also taught me what ‘walking taco’ is and how it feels to eat them for every meal for a week straight.''See More Alumni