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Open Letters: Letter 6

24.03.20

Dear camp,

A few months ago, I was filling out an application for a summer job. A summer job that would take me thousands of miles away from home, throw me into the great outdoors, and make me responsible for hundreds of other people’s children. Little did I know, this ‘summer job’ would leave the impact it has, and this is all thanks to you.

I’ve discovered a quote that describes camp perfectly; “from the outside looking in, you will never understand it. From the inside looking out, you will never be able to explain it.” I was drawn to apply to Camp America from all the good things I heard from past participants and what I seen on social media, but I took it all with a pinch of salt. Yes, I knew I was in for a great summer, but I didn’t take people seriously when they said they ‘live 10 months, for two’, their camp friends are their best friends, and how much it has helped shaped them into who they are today…but now I completely understand.

Firstly, thank you for giving me a summer full of smiles, laughter and memories. Thanks to you, I spent my summer within the most breath-taking surroundings and was introduced to people who I now consider some of my closest friends. The opportunity to travel and experience cultural exchange has not only broadened my horizons and allowed me to see the world, but has given me multiple sofas to sleep on, all around the world. I have also met some of the funniest and most pure children, who taught me just as much as I taught them, if not more. I’m eternally grateful for the second family I have formed, in this new place I get to call home.

Camp has taught me more than you know. I’ll never be the same person as I was when I submitted that application, but I thank you for this. Before camp, I always suffered with a lack of confidence and I was very much contained and comfortable within my home comforts – not the kind to go out of my comfort zone and try new things. Thanks to the environment of camp, I overcome this and learnt a lot. Travelling and living in a different country taught me independence, facing the climbing wall and zip line on a daily basis taught me confidence, working with people from all walks of life has taught me teamwork and respect, and being a role model for hundreds of kids has taught me endless amounts; from patience to leadership, selflessness to creativity, resilience to kindness.

It’s because of you I’m more confident in believing in myself and my abilities; I’ve discovered a sense of belonging and understanding of who I am and who I want to be, and most importantly, I come back home feeling more prepared for whatever life throws at me. I’ve spent 8 weeks working the best job on the planet, at the most incredible place, and my time as a camp counsellor has taught me things valuable for both personal and professional life. I’ve learnt how to handle large amounts of responsibility, play several roles at once, entertain large groups of people of all ages and be a pro at multitasking, all whilst doing this with little pay and on even smaller amounts of sleep - I wouldn’t change it for the world. Thanks to all of this, I can go through life with more independence, more confidence and a stronger sense of putting others before myself and to never take life (or myself) too seriously!

And lastly, thanks to you, I know the true meaning of love. Camp is a place where everyone belongs. It’s a judgement free zone where people can truly be themselves, grow together and live in the moment, and I love that. From spending time in this environment, I found a love for camp that makes me want to go back year upon year. At some point, I will look back on life and realise that most of my favourite memories will be from my period of time at camp. Camp will always be home, no matter where I go.

Oh how lucky am I, to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.

Thanks for the memories,

Until next time, your camp counsellor.