Meet Alex - a Performing Arts Counsellor at Camp Sloane
Tell us who you are - where you’re from and what you currently do
My name is Alex Schober. I am from Yorkshire, England, but currently living in Belfast, Northern Ireland. I am here training on a professional Musical Theatre course at the International College of Musical Theatre to achieve my dream of being a performer.
Why did you want to do a Summer Camp experience?
I have always loved America and summer camps, I was introduced to them from tv and films, Camp Rock being my all time favourite. I always dreamed of going to Camp in America, I even went to one when I was younger in England called PGL. When I was 16 or 17 my mum showed me BUNAC and told me that I could go to America and work in a summer camp. I had to wait till I was old enough but the minute I turned 18, I signed up straight away to live my own real life Camp Rock.
How did you decide where to go?
After I signed up to BUNAC, I was sent to a summer camp fair. I was given my recommended camp list and it had one camp on, ironically it wasn’t the camp I ended up at. I wandered around till a staff member jumped out and told me about their camp. I went, had an interview and within minutes I was hired at Camp Sloane YMCA, it was like fate.
Tell us what you did at camp?
Over the 4 summers that I was at camp I had a few different roles. Firstly I was a Performing Arts Counsellor. I would teach acting, improv and singing during the activity periods, then I would be responsible for a tent of 6 campers. Secondly I was the Performing Arts Director in charge of that activity area. I organised the lessons we offered, ran the speciality camp and looked after the campers when they were in that building. The last two summers I was the Junior Boys Village Director, I was responsible for around 20-30 campers aged 9-12 and 10 staff members, I would make sure they were having fun, sorted any/all problems and organised evening activities.
What’s one thing you remember from your first week at camp?
I remember the very first time I saw camp, how awestruck I was about everything. Arriving in the village where our tents were, it was the furthest I had ever been from home at that point. It was so exciting while also extremely nerve wracking. I could never believe the family I was about to be a part of.
Tell us your favourite story from your trip
Now this is a hard question, there are so many moments at camp I loved, from Colour War to pizza at Mizza’s. If I have to pick just one it would be the Olympics 2019. Me and my friend, another supervisor, were in charge of organising it. We put our heart and soul into creating a new format for the theme day. The moment we told the counsellors they were going to be team leaders was amazing, they were so excited it filled my heart with joy. When the day came, yes not everything went smoothly but it was an amazing day. The campers had so much fun, as did the counsellors and our fellow supervisors went above and beyond to help. The entire day was just a joy, filled with laughter, energy and camp spirit. Afterwards many of the counsellors and campers said one of their highlights of the summer was the Olympics which was just amazing to hear. One last thing I’m gonna mention as my favourite is each time you go back to camp the feeling you get when you arrive, you see the Summer Camp sign as you pull in, it’s unlike anything else, you just feel right and at home.
Tell us about the most memorable person you met on your trip
Nearly everyone I met at camp will have a lasting memory on me but my assistant camp director will always be the person who was an integral part of my camp experience. She was so welcoming and approachable during my first summer. When I became part of the supervisor team she was such a support, when I wanted to change roles she believed in me and helped me to get through some of the hard times. I wouldn’t have been able to progress and be able to achieve what I was able to without her guidance. She is definitely the best of the best and was such a role model for me.
Did you travel with someone or alone?
Whenever I have flown to camp I have done it by myself. The first time I was nervous but the journey was actually easier than I thought. If you are organised and just follow what BUNAC tells you to do, there is no trouble. My first summer I was put up in a hostel where I met other BUNACer's going to other summer camps and some who were going to mine. We were taken to the train station to get to camp, this was all organised for us, which made it less stressful for me, it also meant I got to meet new and interesting people. Some of the people I met in the first hostel from my camp are still some of my dearest friends to this day. The rest of the summers I made my own way to camp straight from the airport because I was just too excited to get to camp to wait.
What’s your best insider tip?
To make sure to embrace everything, take every opportunity, one thing I could have done more was go out my comfort zone and try new things. I started to do that in my last couple of summers and some of my best memories came from it. Also don’t forget to drink lots of water, buy bug spray and HAVE FUN.
Would you do it again?
I would go back again in a heartbeat because some of the best friends I have come from doing this. I also had some of the best moments of my life. It has made me the person I am today, a more confident, honest and caring person.
A huge thank you to Alex for taking the time to chat to us - you can follow him on Instagram @alexschobertenor - and if you are ready to get your Summer Camp USA adventure underway you can check out the programme here.