BUNAC's Marketing Executive, Sophie, swears by Summer Camp USA. Her three summers spent in the woods of East Hampton, New York, decked head to toe in tie-dye and mismatched Converses (literally, everyday) changed her outlook on everything. That's a pretty bold statement, right? She knows this. She also knows that there is a defining moment for every Camp Counsellor (or Activity Instructor) in their first summer working at camp when you ask yourself 'why am I getting so competitive about a game of sleeping lions?' Yet you suddenly realise that this is happening. You are a Camp Counsellor forever, and there is no going back.
After Sophie's moment of realisation, she developed a theory of things that only Camp Counsellors will know. And this is it.
Things You Only Know If You're A Camp Counsellor
You literally cannot remember the last time you looked in a mirror.
On the whole of Camp, they'll be barely any mirrors for you to scrutinize your appearance or do your hair, and this is only something to celebrate. No one cares what you look like at Camp, and everyone loves you anyway. For all you know, you could have yesterday's Sloppy Joe's sauce still chilling on your face. (You'd hope one of the campers would've told you, though.)
You discover the beautiful gift that is roll-on deodrant.
Americans love this stuff, much to the bewilderment of international Counsellors of the spray-deodrant persuasion. At Camp, a walk to the creek for canoeing in the blinding sun can make you feel grim, but have no fear, the roll-on deodrant is here (with 24 hour sweat resistance.) I am now a roll-on advocate, stubbornly and proudly so. It will happen to you too, just wait for it.
- Leaving Camp on a day or night off and feeling like you've arrived on another planet.
You suddenly understand E.T's feelings of alienation like never before. You drive ten minutes down the road, out of Camp, and you see people wearing smart clothes with tucked in shirts. Why does everyone look so clean? How is it possible to get your hair THAT straight? Most shockingly of all, why is no one singing about Percy the Polar Bear before eating their dinner? Strange creatures, these non-Camp Counsellor humans.
- Sand-filled water shoes after breakfast. That is all.
There is nothing quite like the feeling of dread right before putting on water shoes, wet and soaked with yesterday's sand from the Bay. Your campers have a sailing lesson right after breakfast, so it cannot be helped. Camp Counsellors around the world, I understand your pain and I am there for you. The sand is only temporary, but my appreciation for you is everlasting.
- You say 'WOO' to everything.
It really is the most versatile sound in the history of vocabulary. It is the perfect response which requires the least amount of thought or effort. "Does anyone want to play a game?" - "WOO!" - "Who wants some chipwiches?" - "WOOOO!" - "Who wants to dress Sophie like Niall from One Direction?" - "WOOOOOO!"
- Your favourite hobby becomes inventing the craziest bed-time stories.
This was a responsibility I took very seriously as a Camp Counsellor. Your campers need to get to sleep, and you're going to deliver the best bed-time story to make that happen. A story about Bill and Ben, two slices of bread in a toaster sounds like it has potential. How about a crocodile called Sandra whose lifelong dream was to meet a snail? Campers of all ages love them and, as long as it's PG, anything goes. (The wilder, the better.)
- Wherever you are in the world, no matter how many years on, a song from a Camp summer will always take you back.
Whether it's the hottest chart songs of the summer or a random song that takes you back to a random memory of Camp, music will bring back the best Camp memories. Mine? Northern Downpour by Panic at the Disco, Cotton-Eyed Joe, Broccoli by McFly and Shut Up and Dance by Walk the Moon (among many others.) Not my usual music taste, but I love them all the same.
- Post-Camp melancholy is a thing, and you will get through it.
I know how you feel. You can't eat and everything reminds you of your Camp friends. You wonder how your campers are doing in school. Just because your summer(s) being a Camp Counsellor were so incredible you can't describe it to anyone, know that your best memories in life are yet to come. Plus, returning back to Summer Camp USA is always an option...