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Rhiannon - Humans of Camp America

29.01.19

"'I was in my first year of 6th form and couldn’t wait to turn 18 and apply for the programme. I knew I wanted to be a speech and language therapist and saw working at a summer camp as a great way to gain more childcare experience. I was convinced I wanted to work at a “typical, private summer camp” and had my heart set on this. This was until Easter2015, when I spent 2 weeks volunteering with children and adults with special needs. My whole mind set changed. 

In two short weeks I had supported individuals with special needs to have a fulfilling holiday and I saw the impact that I had on their lives. I could only imagine the impact I could have if I worked with these amazing people for a whole summer. I changed my preferences and was lucky enough to be placed at a wonderful camp in Pennsylvania for children with mild to moderate learning disabilities associated with a range of syndromes, disorders and abuse. 

Camp has truly shaped my values. I learnt patience, acceptance and how to deal with my own emotions in stressful situations. I had the opportunity to be a team member, a leader, a teacher, a big sister and a therapist. I overcame challenges and learnt to support others. 

I expected camp to be challenging, busy, fun and exciting and it met those expectations. I had not considered just how attached I would become to those children, and even the staff, and how upset I would become on the last day of camp. We learnt a phrase that I still carry with me that is: “It’s not a goodbye, it’s a see you later!”. 

I have been a part of Camp America for 4 years. In this time, I have been a counsellor, brand manager and regional interviewer. Camp changed me as a person and Camp America opened doors that have allowed me to encourage and help others to have the same experiences I have had. 

Working at camp stood out on my CV and provided some great talking points during my interview for my undergraduate degree. Over the years, I was given more responsibility, including a role in the on-site speech therapy clinic. I am now studying for my masters in speech therapy and I can say with confidence, that camp provided me with the necessary experience to gain a place on this postgraduate course.''