Three cheers for living in a cabin with 14 kids for 3 months and having the best time of ya life, CHEER CHEER frickin’ CHEER!
Ok, so maybe that intro was a bit too American, but really camp is absolutely fabulous and I think you should all know about it! So, I’ve decided to write a post including the best 10 things about camp (in my humble opinion). For those of you who have experienced camp for yourself feel free to nod along as you read and for those of you who are toying with the idea of a summer in the States, hopefully this will make you book your flight ASAP.
My personal experience of camp involved a whole lotta horse poo, shouting “TROT ON” and an all-round crackin’ time. For two summers in a row I worked at Camp Chi in Wisconsin at the stables as a horse riding instructor. Yep that’s right, I signed myself up to work with both kids AND animals — some say this is a recipe for disaster but I loved every single second of it. There’s a ton of different jobs you can do at camp so there will always be a slot for you to fill no matter what your skills or preferences. So, if you’re worried about what you would do/teach then you can scratch that of your list of ‘reasons why I’m not going to camp’ because there will always be a job that’s just right for you.
I get that it’s not just the job that you may be worried about. Living in a cabin full of children you are responsible for, on the other side of the pond from all of your nearest and dearest for three months sounds a tad daunting, but I promise you it will be the best thing you ever do. I can also promise you that you’ll come back from camp preaching to all of your friends to make the leap too and go and experience it all for themselves.
So, if you’ve ever given summer camp a thought, here are 10 reasons why you should stop thinking and SIGN UP:
1. You really do make the best friends
You might be reading this cringing at me portraying this magical land where you skip through fields hand in hand with your new besties… I mean, that may well happen but that’s not what I’m trying to suggest. Camp friends are different. I can’t quite put my finger on how they are different but they just are. Camp friendships are so strong because you are with each other 24/7. There’s no hiding your flaws. Nah-ha, you see each other at your good your bad and your ugly… literally. This means that there are zero boundaries, I mean ZERO! After the first week it’ll feel like you’ve known these people forever and no conversation is ever too gross or weird to have, trust me.
2. You learn a lot about yourself
Some people learn a lot about themselves on a deep and spiritual level at camp and I’m all about these meaningful life lessons. What I learnt about myself though was slightly less deep. I learnt that I can function on three flat meals per day (and hardly any sleep)! This may sound stupid but I’m a MASSIVE foodie and those who are close to me know that I’m not myself when I’m hungry. I’m literally the Snickers advert. I’m a grazer and constantly pick on things throughout the day but my food loving tummy soon adjusted and got used to the 3 meals a day thing.
3. Your perspectives will change
Camp taught me that those who matter don’t care and those who care don’t matter. No one at camp cares about anything and I mean this in a good way. No one cares about what you wear, what you look like (this goes out of the window at approximately day 2) or what you act like. Everyone is accepted for who they are, warts and all, and I LOVE that!
Also, you become less addicted to your phone as a result of living the camp life. A — because the WIFI is very intermittent and more importantly B- because you’re really not that bothered about it. You’ve got too much camp chat to be having with people who you have made a strong and genuine connection with. Being disconnected from the world and living in the camp bubble truly is bliss. Living the simple life will be something you end up loving and something you’ll bring home with you.
4. You get to work in the most beautiful surroundings
Camp really is beautiful! Most camps have at least one lake and are surrounded by fields and woods full to the brim with all things naturally wonderful like deer, owls, squirrels and a whole lot more wildlife. Taking a bad pic is a struggle (so when you get your intermittent WIFI and can be bothered to go on your phone, the Insta is sure to be strong).
5. You’ll get to go travelling
Travelling after camp is a whole other experience in itself and is as equally as amazing as camp. This is the time that you really get to explore the States and put your travel plans into action! There are countless places to tick off your list like: The Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Zion, Vegas, San Fran, New York, L.A and all of the places in between… the list really is endless! And who better to visit all of these amazing places with than your camp pals?!
On the J1 visa (the type of visa that you need to work at a camp) you get 30 days at the end of your time working at camp to go and explore the great U S of A. You can hit a lot of places in 30 days, trust me. But if this just isn’t long enough for you don’t worry. In order to be able to stay in the States longer than the 30 days that the J1 visa allows, all you’ve got to do is leave the States then come back on an ESTA. By doing this you get an extra 90 days of travelling (on top of the 30 that your J1 allows)!! I did this after my second summer at camp. I visited Costa Rica (would recommend) then went back and had more time exploring the states.
6. You get to experience Walmart
Walmart is a funny ol’ place. It’s like Asda on steroids, x2. What I mean by this is that you can buy your groceries in one aisle, a washing machine in the next, a tent in the next, guns and knives in the next, knitting needles in the next and a Zimmer frame in the next. Its madness.
7. There’s nothing quite like a campfire
Sitting around a camp fire with a guitar and good friends really is all you need. Some of my favourite memories were made chatting around a camp fire. Cue the DMCs!
8. S’mores are life
This point could’ve gone under point number seven because there ain’t no s’mores without a camp fire, but these marshmallowy, chocolatey, gooey parcels of goodness, sandwiched in digestives really do deserve a point to themselves. Bloody delicious!
9. You make the most amazing memories
I can’t tell you enough how many memories you make at camp. You make so many that you forget about them and remember them randomly when you’re back at home 5 months down the line. Some of my fondest memories were made at camp. The friends you meet, the kids you teach and look after and in my case the animals I spent every single day with have made up so many wonderful moments in my life so far, it truly is magical.
10. You WILL make a difference
You really will make a difference to so many kids’ lives, way more than you think! The kids are away from their parents and you are the one who they look up to and respect at camp, you are the one they want to be like. During the kids’ camp experience, you are the one who they go to when they are so excited they could burst, so sad they could cry, so happy they could cry and so proud they want to shout from the rooftops. You deal with all of their emotions and help mould them into wonderful little human beings and this really is such an amazing responsibility to have.
So yeah, if you’re reading this thinking this is totally for me, stop thinking about it and SIGN UP!