Why EVERYONE should go to an American Summer Camp

As I started the biggest production of my life (so far), the third year dissertation, I suddenly got a bit worried. This wasn’t because of the amount of work I needed to do, I’m super organised so I knew I could handle it. It was the thought of what I would do when this was all over. Over and over again I had read graduate ‘horror stories’ of how everyone falls into this inevitable pit of unemployment desperately trying to scramble out.

I decided to start planning my life after graduation and what I would do with my life after university. This is when I found Camp Leaders: the chance to work all summer in a camp in America. Although the application process was more strenuous than applying for University there is no doubt that this was the best thing that I have ever done.

I will endeavour to encapsulate as many of my experiences as I can, but it’s like going to your first sports match or huge music gig: you cannot imagine the atmosphere and the feeling until you actually do it yourself.

I was selected by an all girl’s camp in Massachusetts called Chimney Corners YMCA.

Although my application was very dance heavy (you may be surprised to know that I’m a grade 8 ballet dancer and have completed nationally and regionally in dancing and singing!) I was actually selected because of my media skills; skills from my degree.

Since returning, so many people have said things like

‘how on earth did you go to America by yourself?’ There’s no way I could do that.’ ‘You’re very brave.’

But for me it was totally natural, I had met a lot of my co-workers on Facebook and I knew I was going to have the summer of my life.

A month after I was selected, my sister was picked for the same camp. By total coincidence, she was the dance councillor and we had been hired by different people who had no idea we were sisters until we told them!

I had the best job and the best Director Jamie

(I really hope she isn’t reading this because she hates me showing affection to her!) We had a couple of weeks to get to know each other and the rest of camp before the kids arrived. There were a lot of international staff from Hungary, Spain, New Zealand, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales, England, Australia, Czech Republic, Poland, Vietnam, Germany… everywhere! We were all a very long way from home and this made it so much easier to become great friends straight away. We all lived in a massive house together called The Manor and I shared a room with 8 fantastic, beautiful and amazing girls.

Each day it was mine and Jamie’s responsibility to take photos of every activity happening on camp. From horse riding, farming, hockey, tennis, basketball, volleyball, yoga, nature, cooking, outdoor cooking, woodwork, step dance, ballet, contemporary, hip hop, rowing, sailing, swimming, aqua aerobics, soccer, colonial living, arts and crafts, photography, sewing, we took photos of anything and everything. It was such a good experience to work with such professional equipment. I had my own Canon EOS Rebel T3i that I now miss like crazy!

When we weren’t teaching kids about Journalism Jamie and I were sat in our office (above) putting together our self made Camp Newspaper called the Firefly or the Camp TV News reports called CCN (Chimney Corners News)

or making a topical slideshow for whatever event was coming up.

In the second week of camp the Dance Instructor had to leave so my sister and I took over the Dance classes. I was the main Contemporary teacher and choreography while Ciara took control of the Ballet. We really outdid ourselves with the choreography (I can send you a recording on request) and had such a great time being creative with the girls.

We completed so much in such a short space of time and I was in my element being busy from the moment I woke up (7am) until I dropped out unconscious (midnight or later).

As well as having the camp experience we were also given so many opportunities to go ‘off camp’ and fully experience the American culture. It’s so different to Britain! After camp my sister and I went off travelling together, Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New York- but that’s a whole other blog post story!

Going to America has changed my perception of myself. I know that I am capable of anything I set my mind too. I have a higher opinion of myself.

I could blame this on the female empowerment I felt every day or I could blame it on the unwavering support of the wonderful women I met there. I was given the opportunity to get to know myself and my abilities.

In two months I became happy with who I am, what I can do and unbelievably excited about the future.

Now I’m home I have applied for ‘normal’ jobs and ‘exciting’ skiing jobs in California. I’m excited and nervous about what the future holds for me, but I’m ecstatic that I’ve had such great experiences and I know so many more are waiting for me.

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