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Open Letters: Letter 1

03.03.21

Dear Arianna, 

Your countdown to camp is fast approaching and any day now you'll be stepping on the plane to jet off for a summer in the states. This is your first time being away from home for such a long time (never mind in a different country) so I know you're probably feeling all kinds of emotions. Nervous, yet excited, to get to this new place you're going to call 'home'...eager to meet all the people you're going to be spending your summer with...terrified, yet thankful, for all the kids you're about to become a role model for....tearful to leave your family and friends behind, yet overjoyed with the opportunity to get away from a miserable British 'summer'. Overall, I know you're optimistic about the summer ahead and so you should be! 

Becoming a camp counsellor will honestly be the best decision you have ever made. 

The journey starts at the airport. You may leave mum or dad crying, but it's ok....they'll get over it. They're just jealous they didn't take this opportunity themselves when they were your age! Of course they're worried about sending their 'baby' off on this adventure, but I can assure you they'll live through all your Facebook posts, so get ready for all the likes and embarrasing mum comments!! 

Arriving at camp for the first time will be an unexplainable feeling but just know, this place will soon become your 'home away from home' and you'll never want to leave. Read this letter again at the end of camp, you'll understand. You'll arrive at camp absolutely exhausted from the journey and will most likely feel a little disorientated or lost - the thought "what have I done?" may even cross your mind at first, but it's just because you are out of your comfort zone. I promise you'll settle in no time. It's not every day you get to spend your days dancing on tables, jumping in lakes, and swinging down zip lines, so take it all in and enjoy it! 

You're about to spend 8 weeks living and working so closely with such a large group of people and you'll be surprised how quickly you become friends with these guys. These people will see you at your best (and worst) yet will be the most supportive group of people you'll ever meet. You may think it's impossible that you'd be able to maintain such a strong relationship once camp is over but trust me, the friends you make during you time at camp will be your friends for life. You'll go through life sharing all its greatest moments together - your wedding guest list is about to get 10x bigger, you may even be part of future wedding parties! On a serious note, moving on from camp, these people will genuinely be some of your closest friends. You'll soon realise the joy of camp friends is that you don't need to see one another (or even talk to one another) on a regular basis but when you do, you literally just pick up where you left of like you've never been apart! My advice to you is to cherish the time you spend with them this summer; the summer goes by SO fast so make the most of it, say yes to adventures, and take lots of photos because you'll spend the rest of the year wishing you were back at your favourite place with your favourite people, so why not have a load of photos and memorabilia to decorate your space, to add to that FOMO! 

Then there's the kids. You wouldn't be going to camp if it wasn't for the kids and they are genuinely going to have the biggest impact on your life that you would never imagine, and the same goes for you with them. As an international staff member, you're automatically going to be their favourite person because you have a 'funny accent', so soak it in, but be prepared for a summer of having to repeat words in your 'funny accent' (water bottle being a favourite), being asked silly questions such as "do you have Orange juice in England?", and telling them where you're from with them responding "is that in London?". Cultural differences aside, you're going to spend your summer being a role model. Your kids will look up to you fof advice, support and encouragement. For their time at camp, you're ultimately their parent, cheerleader, coach, doctor, teacher and friend, all rolled into one. SO, be positive, be approachable and be YOU, they'll love you! 

Enjoy the countdown to camp and remember, prepare for the best summer of your life. 

All the best, 

Arianna (your future self)