Maiju - Humans of Camp America
By Camp America on 01/02/2017
As cliché as it sounds, the Parent Trap was on TV one day and I began to wonder if working on a summer camp in the USA was possible...
I had never heard about Camp America, since it’s not a big thing in Finland yet. After doing some googling, I found out that it actually was possible to work on a camp! This was something I had been dreaming of: getting to work in an international environment and travelling at the same time. It felt natural for me to apply, because I had attended on many camps in Finland, so this was all perfect for me and sounded way too good to be true.
But it was true, and soon I got placed on a Girl Scout camp in New Mexico as a Unit Counsellor. I had never been outside of Europe or travelled alone so I was really nervous but so excited at the same time. It didn’t take too long to get used to use English everyday and I gained so much more confidence on speaking English and many campers even said they loved my accent, which I found even more encouraging!
Camp was located at the mountains and the view was just beautiful. We only had about 15 staff members and we were like a really close family and I just loved it. We had lots of different activities, for example, high ropes course, horses, canoeing, hiking, rafting and rock climbing. Every day was different; you never knew were you going to end up all muddy from playing capture the flag or watching the most beautiful sunset you had ever seen from up the mountains. One of the best things at camp was to see how campers gained more confidence during the week, did something they didn’t think they could do and left home happy and eagerly waiting for next time.
As much as I wanted to go back next summer, I couldn’t but decided I had to do camp again soon. I decided to apply to a new camp, since I couldn’t go to camp as early as my last one started and I love to see how different camps work. This time I got placed on a bigger Girl Scout camp in Virginia as a Program Director. I was very excited to experience new camp and see how camp works from a different position!
I was in charge of organizing opening and closing campfires, all camp activities, theme days and lunches with program staff. This time I was working behind the scenes, I only got to be with campers for example at mealtimes, when I was teaching archery or when a group needed a driver for an outside camp trip. It was different but I loved it and one of the best things was when ever we got help from campers with theme day decorations. Campers were so creative and I loved to see how proud they were when they saw their decorations at the dining hall! I still got to try different activities what camp had to offer; for example caving, rafting, climbing tower and repelling.
Getting to see how everyone’s face lit up when they walked to the dining hall and saw it all changed to a different theme was incredible. All that laughter when they got to participate to a silly all camp activity, was it Colour Wars, Amazing Race or something else, and all great skits and songs campers performed at closing campfires. I got so many memories and it was wonderful to know I had been helping campers to make them too.
My experience with Camp America has been so incredible and right now I’m interviewing people in Finland and helping them to experience summer of a lifetime! It’s something you can’t understand properly before experiencing it yourself. Working on a camp gives you so much; you meet people from all over the world, get friends that last for a lifetime, gain valuable international working experience, work on your English skills and much, much more!
Am I going back next summer? You bet I am. And you should too if you are even considering it, I promise you won’t regret it!
Maiju “Finn” Juntunen
Camp Elliott Barker, 2014
Camp May Flather, 2016