Everything I Wished I Knew Before Applying for Summer Camp USA
Twice returner to Summer Camp USA, Camp Counselor Megan gave us the lowdown on what she wished she knew before applying for a summer in the States. Here’s what she would tell past Megan about the experience.
Dear Past Meg, You’re debating whether to take a leap of faith and sign up for a whole summer working at Summer Camp USA. There are lots of unknown factors right now, but I can’t recommend it enough and you’ll thank me later! Here’s everything I wished I knew before applying;
Don't be nervous - it will be the greatest adventure
With organizing such a trip, lots of paperwork comes with it - with forms to fill out, documents to sign and a trip to the Embassy, it can be stressful but just bear with it because, it’s totally worth the adventures awaiting you across the pond. Plus, BUNAC will help you every step of the way. You will doubt your decision when you leave friends and family behind to arrive jet-lagged in a strange forest nowhere near civilization. However, after a couple of days of crazy, intense, exciting staff training with a bunch of strangers from around the world, you will somehow feel reassured with your choices! Welcome to a whole new world.... there’s literally no other place like Camp.
It's an experience like no other
All the expectations and rules of society will no longer apply. Roll on tie dye clothes, greasy hair with bandannas and sensible closed-toed shoes. The tan lines from this new fashion are questionable, but everyone is in the same boat. Prepare yourself for endless camp songs (which will also be constantly in year head until Christmas!) You will count down the days until Taco Tuesday or a campfire with s’mores, as well as consuming excessive amounts of sugar in the form of cinnamon toast crunch and Girl Scout cookies. It’s so refreshing to have a break from technology but instead have real conversations with the people around you. Trust me, the more you embrace the activities, songs, food and excitement, the better you will be able to relate with your campers, be present in the moment and engage with your job. Facebook is going nowhere! Helping campers face their fears and being a role model, they will confide in means more than getting ‘likes’ on Instagram.
You'll learn amazing life skills which will look great on your CV
You’ll be responsible for lots of children, which is a steep-learning curve! Get ready for dealing with grazed knees, waiting for all of your campers to sleep, leading nature hikes whilst wearing fairy wings, making sure they all eat a snack and trying to keep their short attentions spans entertained. You'll learn how to plait hair in darkness, cook brownies on an open fire, improvise fancy dress for any theme, and spontaneously invent bedtime stories in no time at all! This experience will give you more time-management, teamwork and communication skills than will ever fit on a resume. I won’t lie to you; there will be moments that are exhausting/ dirty/ sweaty/ ungraceful/ stressful/ emotional (often simultaneously!) You’ll lose track of the last time you had a shower and won’t even care that bug spray, lake water and sunscreen have become your signature scent. You may struggle to find your loud camp voice at first. However, you will find an inner strength to overcome these challenges, gain some self-belief and learn to rely on your new Camp family to survive each difficult day. These life skills will be invaluable.
Summer Camp friends will be friends for life
The staff bond so quickly because you spend all your time together either having adventures in the sunshine or dealing with campers. You will gain whole new perspectives and learn life lessons from everyone you meet. The shared memories will last forever and the “warm fuzzies” which you’ve written to each other become treasured possessions. No matter how difficult it will be to stay in touch across time zones, you will all make the effort and hopefully see each other back at Camp next summer.
You'll be planning your trip back the second you get home
This is probably a lot to comprehend right now; but I can’t explain Camp to you, you just have to experience it for yourself. Make the most of every moment; it’s a bubble that bursts too quickly. Enjoy watching sunsets, paddle boarding on the lake, endless campfires, teaching archery, powder paint dance parties, stargazing and connecting with nature, because once it’s all over you will cry no matter how much you say you wouldn’t! Coming home will be much harder than you ever imagined, but you'll be so glad you went. I guarantee that you wouldn’t change any of it and will be reapplying for next summer in a heartbeat!
Best wishes, From Current Meg