A Summer of a Lifetime!
I had always wanted to work and travel in the states, as soon as I left college, after studying travel and tourism. After opening up this desire on twitter, I found I had an immediate response from a company called Camp Leaders. Everything they told me seemed too good to be true. Free return flights and help to find a paid job in the states for as little as £389? I immediately signed up, paid my deposit and had my interview. Thanks to a lot of help from friends and family, I found myself having a job secured before Christmas 2012, and I could plan my summer of a lifetime.
I was hired at a girl scout camp in Virginia as a lifeguard. Both girl lifeguarding and being a girl scout were completely new to me, so I had no idea what I was letting myself in for. Before I left for the USA I trained as a lifeguard on the camp leaders ARC course. This was a brilliant week of meeting like minded people, and it also answered many of questions that I had about camp.
I left for the states on the 10th June, not knowing too much about what camp life would really be like. When I arrived I stayed with a host family so I could get over my jetlag and ease into American culture. They were some of the best people I met during my time there. They picked me up from the airport, took us out sightseeing and for dinner, picked us up on our weekends off so we could have a little break from camp life, and looked after us before we flew home. They were so welcoming, and as they were a family that had attended the camp themselves before, they definitely settled any nerves!
The camp itself was very basic. We had no electricity, no flushing toilets and lived in platform tents. The experience itself was a challenge, especially when it came to removing spiders or seeing a snake every now and then. But having everything so basic, made me more appreciative of everything that I have at home!
Our day to day routine was very similar to other camps. We would get up around 7, attend flag, go to breakfast and then the activities would start. Being waterfront staff, meant that I got to spend my entire day at the waterfront, taking part in the activities. These included swimming, kayaking, sailing and windsurfing. The campers go to experience a lot of the waterfront, as well as arts and crafts, but we always had some crazy all camp games to end the day. We also had fantastic themed weeks, such as pirates, the hunger games and harry potter, which was obviously very popular!
After an amazing 9 weeks, saying goodbye to 24 of the best people I could have ever met was so difficult. Camp friendships are a little different as you are not only friends, but you're also your own little family. I can now say that I have friends all over the world thanks to camp in America.
I was lucky enough to travel after camp for 3 weeks. in this time I went too Florida, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Washington DC and New York. I got to visit some beautiful places, and experience things I never thought I would.
If anyone is in two minds about whether they should apply or not, my advice would be to go for it! The days may be long, and at some times, really difficult, but it is by far the most rewarding thing I have ever done. Not only that, it is a great option for a gap year and looks incredible on your CV. You will not regret a single minute when you are at camp and it will be the best experience of your life.