Types of Camp
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Costs & Process Explained
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"Throughout my three summers at Camp Westmont, Pennsylvania, I've taken on a variety of different roles and responsibilities which have contributed to a truly unforgettable experience!"
"Throughout my four summers at Camp Westmont, Pennsylvania, I've taken on a variety of different roles and responsibilities which have contributed to a truly unforgettable experience!"
A couple of years ago when I was mid-way through my university degree, I began to think about how I could gain some valuable experience that would add to my CV but I also had an urge to travel and experience a different culture. After much research, it was clear that a summer working at camp would tick both of these boxes but I never realised the extent of the impact camp would have on my life!
Despite my first impressions, the application process proved extremely easy as a wealth of guidance was provided! I made sure that I began my application early on in the season, around September, in order to maximise my chances of getting placed.
The whole process was actually a lot more fun than I expected as I went along to the London recruitment fair (where I was lucky enough to get placed!) as well as a Pre-Camp Orientation which made me overly excited for the summer!
Before I embarked on camp, I spent a week in New York City where I gained a taste of the American culture and realised how amazing it would be to absorb myself fully in their way of living for an entire summer! Based on the people I met, food I ate and experiences I had in NYC I discovered that Americans don't do things by half measures, and this was very much evident at camp! I quickly fell in love with all aspects of the American culture; including the excessive enthusiasm for life, the over-the-top patriotism, the need to always win at sports and the crazy food combinations.
For me, the best thing about camp is working with kids. After all, camp is about making the summer an unforgettable experience. Before I applied for the programme I was apprehensive about taking care of children, but I quickly realised how wrong I was when I arrived at camp. It was like no other job I previously had as I was constantly having fun. Where else can you go tubing on the lake, score a home run and stuff your face at chocolate making in the space of an afternoon?! You will experience the truly rewarding feeling when you see that your efforts are contributing to the kids' enjoyment at camp.
Whilst working at camp is thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding, there's no denying that at times you'll be faced with tough situations. My top tip would be to always stay positive and approach even the most challenging situation with a smile! In such an intense environment, all Counsellors will find themselves exhausted, having to deal with a rude child or covering a sick Counsellor's evening duty at some point throughout the summer. It's important to approach these situations with the correct attitude and remember that this is all part of camp life. I promise that the enjoyment you'll experience at camp will easily outweigh the tougher times!
At 7:45am sharp the head Counsellors’ voice would sound over the tannoy to wake everyone up. This was the signal for everyone to crawl out of bed and get ready for breakfast. As a counsellor for the 6-8 year old boys I was often awake long before this as youngsters are evidently early risers and not bothered about waking up their counsellors!
Once counsellors had succeeded in dragging the campers out of bed, everyone would gather for morning line-up by the flag pole. The Head Counsellors would make announcements about plans for the day and a camper or counsellor usually provides some form of entertainment to get everyone in the mood for the day. A lucky camper is selected to raise the American flag up the flagpole (usually if it’s their Birthday) followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
This is the only time the dining hall is a relaxed environment as everyone is still trying to fully wake up. At meal times boys and girls sit at either side of the dining hall and counsellors sit at a table with their bunk of kids. Beginning with the youngest kids, campers and counsellors are called up to get their food. Time to fuel yourself for the long day ahead; fill up on pancakes, waffles, French toast, eggs, bacon, porridge, cereal and fruit!
Not the most popular time of day, after all who goes to camp to clean?! However, it is important. Counsellors have to help the campers whilst they clean their area (no wet towels hiding in the corner) and make their bed before brushing their teeth. I often promised to reward the camper with the tidiest area with some candy to give some extra motivation!
Each campus (boys’ and girls’ side) gathered by the flag-pole for Elective Line-Up. Electives allow the kids to choose the activity or sport they want to take part in for that period. One at a time, specialists call out their activity and a stampede of kids leap up and sprint over to them if this was their choice. As a Golf Specialist this could be a challenging period as I could end up with a seven year old wanting to try the sport out as well as a group of 15 year olds looking to hone their skills. So I would have to accommodate for all ages and abilities during Electives.
For the rest of the morning there are two activity periods based on a weekly timetable in which each division would rotate around all the different activities and sports at camp. As a Golf Specialist I was stationed at the Driving Range for much of the day so I organised and led coaching sessions tailored to different groups of kids based on their age and ability.
The crazy dining hall scenes begin; this is lunch like you’ve never experienced before! Counsellors lead chants, screaming at the top of their voices. A six year old will attempt to squeeze as many grapes as possible in their mouth, cheered on by their bunk, while other kids will go all out to make more noise than others! In all the madness it’s time to re-fuel yourself with some American grub; sloppy joe’s, mac & cheese or fried chicken. You can make meals healthier by taking advantage of the fresh salad bar.
This gave everyone the chance to re-charge their batteries. Campers could read, play games, listen to music or write letters to home under the supervision of one of the bunk counsellors who is on duty for the day. The other bunk counsellors were given this period off so they could chill-out together and grab some Wifi to stay in contact with friends and family.
Another opportunity for the campers to decide themselves what they’d like to do! This is also a chance for Sports Coaches to hold training sessions for those all-important matches against our rival camps!
The whole camp would flood to the picnic tables to top up their sugar levels! A variety of fruits would be on offer and, if you’re lucky to arrive early enough, ice creams! This allows the kids in each division to join together before heading off to their afternoon activities.
Another opportunity for the kids to get involved in a range of activities, each division heads to their assigned activity whether it’s High Ropes, American Football or Arts & Crafts. As a Specialist, there were some periods where Golf wasn’t an activity assigned to a division of kids. This gave me the chance to catch up with my division of campers and go along with them to whatever activity they were assigned to, I didn’t miss out on experiencing the variety of activities on offer at camp!
Time to cool off in the lake or pool after a long day in the sun! For General Swim, the camp is divided into Lower and Upper Camp so half the campers and counsellors are at the lake while the other half are at the pool and this rotates on a daily day. My role usually was to act as a human climbing frame!
Shower Hour! It often proves quite challenging to make sure that all the campers have a daily shower, but it soon becomes evident which kids are dodging the showers!
Once everyone has freshened up, everyone gathers by the flag pole for one last time for Evening Line-Up where the flag is lowered. Head Counsellors finally reveal what’s in store for evening activity and report about any special or humorous happenings that day.
Let the madness begin again! The dining hall’s the scene of even more chanting and crazy antics during dinner. A hot dish is served, maybe pasta, pizza or burgers, as well as the fresh salad bar and often some form of dessert.
During Free Play, campers are free to do whatever they like on camp (within reason). On-duty counsellors will be stationed at different locations all over camp to keep an eye on goings-on while off-duty counsellors can take the time off. There’ll be all sorts going on during this period, like basketball or softball games between counsellors and campers.
A different Evening Activity takes place each day which often brings the whole camp together or for each individual division. My personal favourites are the Counsellor Slam Dunk Contest, which is a chance for the Brits to embarrass themselves, and the Camper Home Run Derby. Evening Activities provide many opportunities for counsellors to get involved to make them all the more enjoyable for the kids.
To end the day, each division gets to spend around 20 minutes at the canteen; everyone’s favourite time of day! Campers get to fill up on candy, ice cream and soda. This is a chance for everyone to chill out or play the arcade games; pool, table tennis or air hockey.On nights off, which began after Evening Activity, we got to spend time chilling out with friends, watching movies or going off camp to get pizza or ice cream.
Following canteen, everyone would make their way back to the bunks to get ready for bed. Fresh on the sugar hype, extra efforts are often required to get some of the campers calm for bed. For the youngest campers, lights should be out by 9:45 but the older kids were allowed to stay up for longer into the evening.
From Sunday – Thursday, all counsellors had to sign in and be back in the bunk by 12am at the latest to ensure everyone gets enough rest to do it all again the next day! At the weekend we were given extended curfew until 1am so had the privilege of an extra hour off!
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