Elks Camp Moore
Camp General Counsellor and Camp Leader
New Jersey, USA
Special Needs Camp
Why did you apply?
I applied for Camp America to gain new experiences and skills. I wanted to have a experience that allowed me to work with children but also have the opportunity to broaden my horizons. During the process of considering Camp America, I had just finished college and wanted to take a break from education, this programme was recommended to me by my older sister who always wanted to participate. It didn’t take me very long to apply once I did my research and saw the opportunities available. The process of applying was very straight forward and I was able to attend a recruitment far that provided more information, and past candidates were also there where they shared their own experience about camp. From that day I just knew that Camp America was for me before even sharing my plans with my parents as this was an opportunity of a life time, being able to travel at the age of 18 alone. I felt I needed this to explore and find what I really wanted to do other college.
What’s your favourite thing about America?
My favourite part about America was getting the opportunity to visit different states. I’ve visited America previously throughout my childhood to visit family though didn’t have the chance to go to the states that I dreamt about. Though being apart of Camp America, this has offered me the opportunity to visit places that have been on my bucket list. America is such a huge place that offers so many opportunities of a lifetime. I have always wanted to pursue a long term career in the USA and although it was just for the summer, I’ve been able to participate in the programme for four years in the row. One thing that will always blow me by surprise is the size do their supermarkets, a trip to Walmart and Target were a highlight throughout my trip and of course the one and only store itself ‘Sephora’. Visiting America, you always create that image in mind from the movies that you see on the tv. I can now tell you that some states are just like the movies. New York for one, had my face glowing until this day. I cannot control my excitement for that city, as soon as I step foot of the plane I already feel the adrenaline through my body rushing towards the exit to catch a taxi.
What kind of camp was yours?
My camp was a special needs camp located in the hearts of New Jersey. This camp will forever hold a place in my heart. I always refer to the camp as my home, that’s how much I enjoyed being apart of the programme and adding to multiple kids summer. Elks Camp Moore is a special needs camp that is located in New Jersey. The camp provides multiple activities for the kids from swimming, arts&crafts, nature &science, music, recreation and two trips. Elks Camp Moore provides an overnight residential camp program for individuals with special needs and disabilities. The campers range from the age of 7 – 21 years of age. Everyday at camp is individually themed allowing creativity, expression and change in the schedule for the campers.
Woking at a special needs camp was very rewarding, it opened so many doors upon return back home. I’ve developed so much knowledge about different disabilities. There was so much more that you had to take into consideration when participating in a special needs camp. Though it camp be a challenge, the days and nights consisted of several activities throughout the week. I wouldn’t have it any other way than to work at a special needs camp, after four amazing years, I cannot wait for another summer experience.
I wasn’t as anxious about the camp type due to having some experience to an extent. I had experience being a 121 mentor for a child with autism. Which gave me an insight of working with children with special needs and understanding how to provide assistance and activities to suit their needs. Being at a special needs camp, they aim to prepare you as much as possible. Even if its your first time working in that field it’s such an rewarding experience, training took place for a week before the campers arrival, all basis were covered from personal care, assisting supervision. Though this can be very daunting for many individuals, the camp directors ensure that you received all the help possible to ensure that you are prepared. But also so that yourself and the campers have the best summer of a lifetime.
What is a typical day like at camp?
A typical day at camp required early mornings. I can tell you one thing about me, this was a struggle though once I adapted to the early mornings during training week, I had no issues. Our days at camp consisted of multiple tasks from Swimming, Arts& crafts, Nature and Science, Music, Sports. Let’s just say everyday was very productive, there was always something to do from dressing up and having themed days, this not only kept the kids at camp occupied. It also enabled you to get out of your comfort zone and share any of your ideas. I left camp being massive fan of Disney films and songs, now I often find myself singing theme songs on the odd occasion. Due to working at a special needs camp, we had to ensure that every activity that was arranged at camp was suitable for all the kids with different requirements so that they were able to participate.The end result was ensuring that every child had a smile on their faces.
What is the best thing about working at camp?
The best thing about working at camp was the interaction with the kids and seeing their expression after the week. As a lot of the children didn’t want to leave at the end of the week, the 10 weeks of camp was very rewarding and to see how much you add to that child’s summer is incredible. The highlight of the end of each week at camp was witnessing how thankful the parents were for being a counsellor for their child. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how much I’ve cried with the parents throughout the years of not wanting camp to end. It’s crazy, because you’re having that much fun with the kids and the interactions from the activities that you don’t see how fast time flies by. Before you know it, the week has ended and another camper is going home to reunite with their families. I have had the opportunity to stay in contact with many of my campers families to witness any progress and updates on their timing at school and their abilities. It is truly a blessing being a part of the families. Once you’ve experienced that first year of camp, you’ll continue wanting to go back, I wish the whole programme didn’t have an age limit on the experience because, I feel four years wasn’t enough. I am still at that age of being able to participate for another few year, but its also crazy because you have other life commitments that require your attention at home. The list could go on for the best thing about camp, though seeing how thankful the families are is at the top of the list because you then know no matter what you’ll be apart of that families and campers life forever.
What is the biggest thing you will take away from camp?
Camp has been a once in a life time experience, I went away not having a clue what to expect and left with so much knowledge and skills. I’ve been able adapt my skills from my.whole experience and use them towards my current work environment as I am currently working with adults with special needs. I learnt so much about myself whilst at camp, it was a challenging experience from my first year though with the inclusion of training, I adapted well to the working environment. There was so many things that I enjoyed about being apart of camp that I’ve been able to take away and adapt it to my everyday life. The opportunity itself being apart of the Camp America Programme was the biggest highlight. I am forever thankful for the past opportunities that I’ve had with camp, I would be half the person i am today if I didn’t take that leap and set off at the age of 18. It has a had a drastic change on my life an introduced me to so many new life time opportunities.