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By Camp America on 16/11/2016
Camp America was always something that I knew about because I have an older sister and I was always curious to find out more about it...
I have always worked with children and it’s probably the best kind of job so doing it for a whole summer, in America too, sounded amazing! After my application went live, I had a few different camps contact me but I didn’t think they were the right ones so I went to the London Recruitment Fair and after doing a lot of research, I had a list of 5 that I wanted to look at and I ended up being hired by a camp called YMCA Camp Cullen in Texas. The YMCA are a non- profit organisation that aim to strengthen communities and develop a healthy mind, body and spirit. I chose a YMCA because it gives all children a chance to go to camp and I think it’s so important that every child gets this opportunity and this was definitely my favourite thing about this type of camp. A few months of crazy planning, Visa trips and orientations went by and I was at the airport waiting to fly to Texas for 4 months. It’s probably the strangest experience going to a new place with new people but feeling so at home when you arrive. At first, I wasn’t sure about being at camp, there is no place like it and it challenged me to come out of my shell and try different things, I wasn’t expecting it to change me as much as it did. One of my favourite memories from camp has to be the Closing Campfire when you’re with your co counsellors and cabin who are all so close after just a week and it makes you think about how much the kids are changed in such a short space of time! One camper that I remember clearly was a little 7 year old girl who couldn’t speak much English; she would only use short phrases like, ‘Miss Lucy, swim?’, if she wanted to know what we were doing. She was so shy at the start of the week as she couldn’t communicate properly with the other girls but after a few days of singing and dancing around the cabin she said, ‘Miss Lucy, are we going swimming today’, and I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been so shocked, it really shows how much camp can influence someone even through different cultures and languages. Being a camp counsellor was definitely a tough job but there’s nothing like it. My favourite part was being with my cabin and trying to make sure that they were all having the best possible time at camp. Seeing them accomplish a goal or a fear was an amazing feeling.
After camp, I decided to travel with 4 of my friends that I met there. We spent ages planning all of the different places and things we wanted to see; we ended up travelling from Texas up the West Coast for two amazing weeks and then I went on to Oregon. Travelling was so much fun, it was a lovely reward after working so hard for 3 months!
There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about camp and the incredible friends I made there. The friends you make at camp will be friends for life, if you think there won’t be people like you there, there will be. The people at camp understand that being a counsellor is the most rewarding job and when you’re dressed up in the silliest of clothes with paint all over your face, they won’t laugh, they’ll smear paint on themselves and join you. Every day since I’ve been home, I’ve spoken to someone from camp and even if you don’t speak every day, when you see each other it’s like no time has passed. Camp made me more confident, independent and all round, a better person. It taught me not to take life too seriously and to always look at the positives. It taught me to appreciate what I have and never take for granted my friends and family. It taught me that you don’t always need to make grand gestures to change someone’s day, it can be something as small as a smile or a helping hand which then maybe, they’ll pass that kindness onto someone else. Looking at my future now, I know that I want to do something that influences and changes people. Camp America are the best company, I can’t thank the enough for being so friendly and helpful. They are so knowledgeable so if you have any question, they can always give an answer. If anyone is considering applying to Camp America, do it! You can’t find this experience anywhere else and it really will change your life.
Lucy - YMCA Camp Cullen (2016)
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