As soon as you arrive, you enter the 'camp bubble' where normal worries disappear and every day is happy and full of fun!
Let us give you a little insight into life on camp as a Counsellor!
You and your fellow Counsellors will all arrive at camp on the same day and for the first week there will be no campers there. This is called Orientation Week and is used to train all of the staff and help you get settled into camp life. You'll learn everything you need to know about the camp, become familiar with the camp rules and cover topics such as child protection. This week will also be spent getting the camp ready so you could find yourself cleaning bunks, painting fences and getting everything set up and looking great! If you're specialising in a particular activity, you'll also have time to become familiar with the equipment and your area. Orientation Week is hard work but a lot of fun as you get the chance to bond with all the other camp staff before the craziness starts. So by the time Orientation week is over you'll be ready and waiting for the kids to arrive!
As a Counsellor, you will never be alone with the campers. You'll be constantly supported by other staff members, so you're all working together throughout the entire summer. On camp there will always be a mixture of new staff, senior staff who have worked there previously, and an experienced Camp Director. Rules are put in place to ensure that you don't have to take full responsibility on your own, for any children at any time. So for example, if a young camper wishes to use the bathroom during lunch time, you AND another counsellor will take them to use the bathroom. It's reassuring to know that on camp you're never working alone and are always supported!
After Orientation has finished, you'll feel like you've known everyone on camp for years - not a matter of days! As soon as the campers arrive, that's when camp really gets started and the fun truly begins. Your days will be action packed and the daily schedules will kick in. You and a number of other Counsellors will be given a group of campers to look after during their stay on camp. They could be there for just a week or they might be there all summer! Either way you'll be sharing accommodation with the campers and other Counsellors. Your day will start getting the kids up and out to breakfast and will end with getting them to bed at night. Evenings are normally spent with the camp all joining together to enjoy a fun activity to end the day. This could be a pool party, movie night, talent show or a campfire cookout!
As a Counsellor, you are working 24/7 on camp keeping a constant eye on the campers. If you are at a camp where the campers stay overnight, you will normally be given a period off during the day to have some time to relax. Obviously there always needs to be staff working, so you'll work on a rota basis with the other Counsellors. You'll also have certain evenings off and normally 1 full day off a week. If you're working on a day camp, you'll have evenings and possibly weekend off. On your days off you'll be able to get off camp and explore the local area!
“At times camp can be an incredibly intense environment to work in, but this is easily outweighed by the thrill and enjoyment that camp provides. Camp life offers so much variety and completely new experiences every single day which will culminate in an unforgettable summer and a strong attachment to your camp! It won’t be long before camp becomes your home away from home.”
Pack some essential items that will be your saving grace throughout the summer! This is your home away from home for 9 weeks so you need to be comfortable with where you are. The campers and other staff will want to share their culture and traditions with you and you should do the same. We always recommend packing something to remind you of home, maybe your countries flag, or some photos of your home life to share with everyone.
Before you leave make sure you check out exactly where your camp is located! This will help when you first land in the USA so you know how far you’ll be travelling to get there. Also keep a note of the time difference (America has more than 1 time zone!) so you know not to call home on your break and its 3am at home!
Follow directions! Your first few days at camp are going to include a lot of information that will ultimately guide you through your summer. To make sure you get the most out of your camp experience, make sure you pay attention to what the senior staff and returners tell you about the camp and the way everything works.
Fully immerse yourself into the American and Summer Camp cultures! Your first experience of Summer Camp is going to be different to anything else you’ve ever experience. So the best way to make the most of it is not to be too worried about not knowing what’s going on and just jumping in head first! Learn all of the camp songs, chants and traditions and be the one who leads those around camp, in the dining hall or wherever you are and you’ll find that everyone on camp loves you!