GUEST ENTRY- STACEY IVERSON
I had applied to Camp America quite a way before booking and finalising my trip to Costa Rica. I had applied as an ‘on the rebound’ type of decision not really with any kind of idea what I was exactly signing up to. I honestly didn’t think that I would get any offers to any camps, however it made me feel like I was doing something with my time, it turned ‘uni drop out’ to ‘seeking employment’ for the time being.
The application consisted of an in depth application form requiring experience and interests, CRB check, visa forms, payment and an interview, all of which needed to be completed before you could even be considered as potential camp staff. I worked under Camp America but Bunac was also another major company providing the camp experience.
I was very fortunate to be placed on camp in New Jersey, just 50 minutes by public bus from New York City (perfect for days off!). After not having ventured across to the States before , I was absolutely buzzing for the whole experience. The last thing to do before I had spoken to a few ‘camp bound’ people on a specially created facebook group and packed my suitcase was to spend half a day at the embassy to collect my visa.
Camp was and always will be the bestest experience of my life. What did you do? What was it like? common questions I get asked.. but how do I explain the camp bubble that you have just got to experience for yourself to understand? I do my best to explain it to everyone, but it is impossible to give justice to actually how good and how tough it really is. The best experience but the hardest.
The attachment which is created between yourself and your 3 groups of children, each group for nineteen days each. The motherly role you are required to take on for a group of girls staying away from home. The 7am- 10.30pm daily shifts with one day off a week for very little wage. The reliance placed on you to provide 24 hour care, entertainment and a permanent good mood and enthusiasm. These are a few of the hardest parts of camp, but they are what makes your journey worthwhile.
Life long best friends, a summer of fun, a carefree attitude, seeing your children over email grow up years after you were their counsellor. A temporary residence in practically every continent from new ‘staff’ friends you have made, a great opportunity to travel and most importantly a whole heap of memories.
Benefits you ask… apart from self satisfaction what benefits do you get from being a camp counsellor? After returning back to the UK, Every employer being paid or voluntary have discussed camp with me after reading it off of my CV. It is a very well known project and is highly recognised in any youth/care related employment with any similarity or relevance.
I loved camp so much in the summer of 2008 that I went back as a returner for the summer of 2009. New children, new friends, new experiences and new memories. I would continue to go back year after year if I didn’t have as many commitments at home, but many of my good friends I met back in 2008 are onto their 5th summer! There have also been two marriages from my two summers at camp where couples amongst staff have been created. I can babble on forever about how amazing camp is but you really do have to experience it for yourselves to truly grasp the brilliance of summer camp in the states.
I have already recommended camp to a friend who has just completed his second consecutive summer. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone whatever your age, gender or nationality.
As Camp Vacamas would say; Making Memories Changing lives.