November 29th, 2016.

poor.gifToday was a great day. The last time I was paid was when I received my camp wage waaaaaaaaaaay back at the end of August. Since then, I have been to Massachusetts, Florida, back to Massachusetts, to England, back to Connecticut via Dublin and back to England again. All of that made a pretty large HUGE dent in my bank account. As of this morning, I had a lonely 0.41 PENCE in my bank account and my petrol light had been flashing at me for at least two days. But, this morning I was SAVED *hands up emoji* and only three weeks until my next payday, yay! So, what was the first thing I spent my hard-earned cash on? CAMP, of course!

After spending my Friday night completing the majority of my summer camp 2017 application (if you missed it, click HERE!) with USA Summer Camp, I had a few final bits to submit in order for my it to be completed. This included uploading documents, a reference and paying my £50 deposit now that I was no longer destitute!

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The documents I needed to upload were:

  • My camp contract.
  • A copy of my passport.
  • My expired J1 visas (found in your passport!)
  • A police check.

Luckily I had recently completed a Police Check for my job, and I already knew USA Summer Camp were happy to accept it providing it was dated after the 1st September 2016 (see previous post!). This made it super easy for me to complete the documents section, however if you do need to complete a police check, I noticed USA Summer Camp had a great, simple set of instructions for you to follow regarding this.

The next part was my reference. It asks that your reference is provided by someone who has known you for a minimum of SIX months, and is either an employer, teacher, coach or lecturer. I chose my university PGCE mentor, as she has recently been writing references for my job applications, and I know she is always reliable and speedy with her responses! My advice would be to contact the person who you would like to provide the reference before signing them up for the job! It’s not only polite, but it often speeds up the process if they are already on the look out for the form coming through to them.

Finally, it came to the ‘payment’ part of the process. The application fee for a returner with USA Summer Camp is £50. There are options to pay in installments via Direct Debit with USA Summer Camp (as I mentioned previously), however I will probably just pay the remainder of the balance when it is due. It is always better to complete the initial stages of your application and get your deposit paid before Christmas, as fees with many companies often start to increase the closer we get to summer 2017.

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My application is now on review, and awaiting my camp to confirm my placement (awks if they don’t). The next stages will be to complete my visa application and insurance documents, plan my visit to the embassy and book my flights! Exciting! But for now, I’ll be dreaming about being back at camp watching the sun set over the lake. Stay tuned for more Camp Journal coming soon…

 

 

Camper Files: Bryn

Bryn, aged 16, is the second camper to take part in Camper Files. She has been a camper at Camp Chinqueka (a.k.a the best place on Earth!) for six ‘unforgettable summers’. Bryn has recently returned from her final year as a camper, and will be returning to camp next summer as a CIT (Counselor in Training).

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Read on to find out more including her favourite camp memory, how she deals with being away from home and her advice to people thinking of going to summer camp.

1. What is your favourite activity (elective) at camp? Why?

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My favourite activity at camp was anything at the Waterfront. I loved being there because, living in New York City, I never get to swim on a pond during the year . It is so fun to swim, row, kayak and perform synchro dances with my friends! During my first summer as a camper, I wasn’t the best swimmer. Over the years, the Waterfront Counselors helped me out so much and taught me how to do cool dives and strokes that I have never even heard of before! In addition, at my camp, there is a traditional synchronised swimming dance (Candlelight) performed each year. Around a dozen seniors are chosen to swim in the dark with whilst holding candles, and it was a very special and beautiful experience to be involved in.

2. What is your favourite camp song?4

My favorite camp song is Boom Chicka Boom.

3. What is your favourite meal at camp?

My favorite meal is the Chicken Parm 🙂

4. What kind of things do you pack for camp?

Other than basic necessities (yellow Crocs, some shorts, bucket hats, fake Ray Bans), I always bring rainbow silly string, bug spray, friendship string, fun costumes (funky scarves, hippie sunglasses, hawaiian shirts etc.), and my stuffed animals.

5. What is the best thing about going to a summer camp?

Being a camper at sunny Camp Chinqueka helped me learn more about myself, and who I could become. I recognise Camp Chinqueka as my home-away-from-home because it is a place and environment that I love more than anywhere else in the world! During the past six unforgettable summers, I have spent them surrounded by campers and Counselors who have turned out to be some of the greatest friends I will ever have. The reason why I came back to Camp Chinqueka every summer was because of the knit-tight community. You are constantly surrounded by people who share so many of the same values, and at the same time you learn about different lifestyles and cultures. You take on the opportunity to meet new friends who are from different places who you thought you would never cross paths with.

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6. What is the worst thing about going to a summer camp?

Not knowing what to do for a senior prank!

7. What is your favourite camp memory?

My favourite camp memory is winning War Canoe!!!! War Canoe is a race between Chinqueka and Awosting’s (our brother camp) canoe teams. You spend around 10 days intensely training, and you work together as a team to make sure that you show everyone how far girl power can really take you! This past summer, our team was extremely humble, and we didn’t practice as often as we had in previous years. However when it got closer and closer to the date of the race, we realised that we had to step up our game. We practiced on land late at night, and began to make a steady and powerful pace during practices. Going into the race, we weren’t canoeing to win. We were canoeing to not loose poorly. But on race day, when we got 2/3rds of the way around the course, I noticed that we were winning and the whole team started freaking out. It was a super special moment to be in a boat with ten other girls who were all screaming at the top of their lungs in excitement. When we won, we all thought it was a dream!! We all started balling out crying because we were the team that showed that even after losing for 18 years, girl power can still outrun anything!

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Bryn and the rest of the girls winning War Canoe against the Awosting boys for the first time in 18 years!

8. What were you most nervous about when you first went to camp?

I was most nervous about meeting new people! I was very shy six years ago, and sleeping in a cabin with a dozen other girls who were from all over the world was very scary to me. But after a couple of days, my Counselors brought us together and we all stayed up late one night laughing at scary stories and playing cards. Chinqueka brought me out of my shell, and helped me become the outgoing person I am today.

9. How did you deal with being away from home for so long?

I always try to keep myself busy, whether that is helping a cabin mate out with making a new friendship bracelet, or hanging out with Amanda (the Camp Director) in the lodge. There is so much to do at camp that I wouldn’t be able to do at home, I choose to act on that and make the most of it.

10. Do you have any advice for people who are thinking about going to a summer camp?

DO IT!!! Summer camp is such an amazing experience and I learned more about myself in one week of camp than a whole year of being at home. Camp opened me up to meeting Counselors and campers from all over the world, who ultimately became my best friends. I also got to try out so many new activities that I would have never been able to do if I hadn’t been at camp!

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November 25th, 2016.

So after arriving home from THE DAY FROM HELL at work, and having zero Friday night plans (this saving-up life is not for me), I decided it was finally time to get around to applying for summer camp 2017. This year is going to be a big change for me, as although I am still going to be working for Ebner Camps, I am switching the camp that I will be working at. *NEWS FLASH!!* Yes, you heard it here first. I have decided to take a role at Camp Awosting, the brother camp to my beloved Camp Chinqueka for girls. Although it will be tough not seeing my girls every day, I will still get to see them (and embarrass them at the socials while they chase boys), and I will have a whole new bunch of crazy campers to keep me occupied!

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My new summer home.

Anyway, back to what I am meant to be talking about: applying for camp. I first of all had to decide which agency to apply through, and this was a tough one (even after all the posts I have written about it!). But in the end, I have gone with the company who are one of the the cheapest, and who I know already know offer great customer service – USA Summer

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Follow me to on Twitter: @how2survivecamp

Camp. I know about the customer service as I recently tweeted them asking if they were able to accept my current DBS certificate, which is also on the update service. Within minutes, I’d had a response to say that if the DBS was enhanced and dated after the 1st of September, they should be able to take it. That is the kind of customer service I am looking for; fast, friendly and efficient. As simple as that, my decision was made.

As a returner, the forms are slightly different to a person applying for the first time. The application wanted to know when I would be returning to camp, and details about my placement. They wanted to know background information, such as criminal and medical history (touch wood, I have neither!!). The next section was the skills section, which took a little longer to complete. They wanted to know at least FOUR skills that I would be able to lead at camp this summer, including a more in-depth paragraph about each individual skill. Although my role at camp next summer has already been agreed with my Camp Director, it is still required that you have a fully completed skills section. As I have previously been a Ropes Instructor, I selected relevant skills from the list such as climbing and high ropes. I also selected Adventure Trip Leading, as I was involved with leading last year’s Senior Trip to Cape Cod, and other school trips. Finally, I selected Qualified Teacher (Ages 11-16) as I am (as the title says), a qualified teacher.

Fun in the sun on the Senior Trip to Cape Cod!

I completed simple sections about my education, occupation and relevant work experience. The next section that required some time and effort was the ‘returning to camp’ section, with questions about what I have gained from my previous camp experience in the U.S. and why I want to return to camp, including what I/the camp will gain (perhaps I should have just put a link to this blog in the textbox!). The answers had limited characters luckily (for them), as I could have continued on all night with endless reasons.

Overall, the whole process to re-apply took me just over an hour – which is not a lot of time out of my day for a VERY worthy cause! Writing this probably took me longer, as I keep getting distracted by food. The next step will be uploading my documents, sending off for a reference and paying my fees. But for now, it’s Friday night and after a long week, its time to put my feet up and finally RELAX!!

Top 10 Reasons To Go To A Camp In Connecticut

When I first applied to camp, I had never even been to the U.S before, never mind Connecticut. Sadly Disney theme parks were not on the list of places for my family to take me as a child (boo hoo). During an online camp fair (hosted by Wildpacks – read all about my experience HERE!), I noticed that many camps were located in the ‘New England’ region of the U.S., and the only state that I had ever even heard of at the time was, of course, NewEnglandFINAL.jpgNew York.

When I told my friends I was going to work at a camp in Connecticut, they too had absolutely NO idea where it was, and looked at me as if I was a crazy person. ‘Connecticut?’ they said, with puzzled looks on their faces. ‘Why don’t you go somewhere cool like New York or California?’. Well, at the time, I didn’t really have any come back to their disapproving comments. But today, I would be able to give them a BUCKET LOAD of reasons why I LOVE Connecticut. Here are my top ten:

1. Connecticut is such a diverse state. It has beautiful cities such as Hartford and New Haven (great for shopping!), but also stunning little towns and SO MUCH COUNTRYSIDE (and so many trees)!!

2. The landscape. If I died and went to heaven (slim chance), the Connecticut landscape is what I imagine it would look like up there. State parks, picturesque lakes (perfect for days off!) and rolling hills, AND it manages to look beautiful in ALL seasons – regardless of the weather!

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Kent Falls – a great place to spend a day off in the summer.

3. Did I mention it also has beaches? Perfect for days off, Connecticut has some BEAUTIFUL flat beaches, such as Hammonasset Beach State Park. What better way to spend a day off than with some friends, a bunch of inflatables and a good playlist!

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4.  I’m not exactly sure why this point wasn’t number one on my list, as it is definitely the most important. The food in Connecticut is so good – especially the PIZZA! During my recent visit, I ate pizza for FIVE meals in a row (yes, including for breakfast). I have never had pizza like that ANYWHERE else in the world – so it was essential that I got my quota during my mini-visit – read all about it in my journal HERE! Some of the best in my area include Bohemian Pizza and Ollies Pizza. Connecticut is also well known for Mystic Pizza – a pizza shop turned film (see point 8)!

5. I am a HUGE animal fan, and Connecticut has some pretty interesting wildlife. From the
bears roaming around, to huge hawks, chipmunks, woodpeckers, moose, bullfrogs, snakes… the list is endless! Although bears are rare to camp (although we did have a visit from one this year!!), you will see – and hear – a HUGE variety of wildlife in Connecticut that we don’t often see back home.

6. This point should also be higher up the list (I wish I could make them all number one), but there is nothing better than a long car journey listening to Country 92.5 FM, Connecticut’s finest radio station. Before I went to camp, I would have never even thought about listening to country music. Now, its definitely one of my favourite genres and I can’t wait to change the station to 92.5 as soon as I get in any car over there!

7. What do you get when you cross a theme park with a water park?  Well in Bridgeport Connecticut, you get Lake Compounce! We are lucky to get to go to Lake Compounce on changeover days, with the campers who are staying for the following session, but it would also make a great day off. It is the longest continuously operating amusement park in the United States, and one of its feature rides is Boulder Dash; a wooden roller coaster, ranked as the BEST WOODEN ROLLERCOASTER IN THE WORLD!!!!!!! And I can confirm, it is pretty good (although I’m not 100% sure how safe).

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Slightly hysterical on Boulder Dash in 2015 – but 10/10 for the tan!

8. Connecticut is home to many films and TV programmes, including the earlier mentioned Mystic Pizza, The Haunting in Connecticut, Grown Ups 2, Gilmore Girls, The Carrie Diaries. If its cool enough to film all of these there, then it is definitely cool enough for me!

9. According to a study by the American Human Development Index, Connecticut is the best state to live in and the citizens there are generally happy. It also has one of the countries coinhighest life expectancy at birth rates. All those tree’s must be having a good impact on the people in the ‘Constitution’ state!

10. The people in Connecticut are some of the friendliest, most welcoming people that I know. Wherever you go, people are always happy to chat (especially about your accent/where you are from!), and are genuinely happy to be speaking to you. The people of Connecticut also apparently have their heads screwed on properly, as it was the second state in the U.S. to legalise gay marriage. Go, Connecticut!

And finally, if you do decide you are sick of Connecticut, or want to get out and explore other parts of America, you are in a great central location. Within 2-3 hours, you could be in New York City, watching a Red Sox game in Boston (Massachusetts), eating lobster on Cape Cod (MA), or topping up the tan on Misquamicut State Beach, Rhode Island!

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Is your camp located in Connecticut? Comment and tell me what YOU love about it!

Camper Files: Bella

As we all know, the most important people at camp are the campers. As a Counselor, you spend the best part of 24 hours a day with them, and its your job to make sure that they have a summer they will never forget. You help them make their beds, teach them new activities, give them hugs when they’re homesick, play games with them, make sure they have made friends… the list is endless! Bella went to camp for the first time this summer, and she is now the first camper to take part in ‘Camper Files’.

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The idea of Camper files is to give potential campers, and their parents (and even potential Counselors!), an idea of what summer camp is like – ‘straight from the horses mouth’ as they say. Bella is from New Jersey, and was 12 years old when she went to camp this summer. She attended an all girls sleep-away camp in Connecticut, USA, for 2 weeks. In Bella’s words:

‘I went to camp in the summer of 2016, and can’t wait to go back in 2017’.

1. What is your favourite activity at camp?

My favorite activity at camp was probably Waterfront because I loved the Blob and Paddleboarding. I also got to swim every morning during Waterfront periods, which is something that I wouldn’t normally do if I wasn’t in camp.

2. If you could add a new activity to the camp programme, what would it be?

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Cooking or baking because that is my hobby at home, and I love to bake! It would be fun to bake things for my cabin mates and Counselors.

3. What kind of things do you pack for camp?

Thankfully I already knew someone at camp, Claire, and she gave me some guidelines.  I brought at least 4 bathing suits, including  1 full piece bathing suit for activities such as Water Skiing and Tubing. I brought at least 9 shirts, shorts and socks. Also I brought flip-flops and sneakers, and one pair of nice sandals for the socials. And although I didn’t really need them, I brought goggles just to be sure. Also, lots and lots of stationary!!

4. What do you think is the best thing about going to a summer camp?

The best thing about camp were the people. The girls in my cabin were some of the nicest and funniest girls I have ever met in my life. From day one, they were so kind to me and as we spent day and night with each other we became closer and closer. They became camp friends rather than just girls that  I share a cabin with. We still keep in touch today with a cabin group text.

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Hard to tell the difference between the campers and the Counselors!!

5. What do you think is the worst thing about going to camp?

That’s a really hard question because there was nothing I didn’t like about camp itself, but I did really miss my parents a lot. For the first week, I cried a few times, but by the second week I had settled in and made so many new friends.

6. How did you deal with being homesick at camp?

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Bella writing one of her many letters!

I actually was so homesick at camp at first, I even missed my brother (and I never miss him!). I wrote daily letters to my parents, and for the first few days I wanted to go home. But as I said before, my whole cabin were there for me. They really picked me up when I was down, and so did my Counselors who were kind and gave me encouraging words when I was sad.

7. As a first time camper, what were you most nervous about before you went to camp?

As a first time camper, I was very nervous. I was nervous about whether I would make new friends, and also whether I would like the people there! I was also nervous whether I had packed enough clothes, but with laundry being done weekly at camp I had more than enough! All of my worries were soon washed away when I arrived and settled in, because everyone was so friendly and welcoming.

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8. How did your parents feel about you going to summer camp?

My Mom and Dad were happy with me going to camp. My mom went when she was younger, and she told me that it was an amazing experience. And it was!

9. What is your favourite camp memory?

My favorite camp memory would definitely be the first time I went Paddleboarding. I went with my cabin friend, Alison, and we had a blast! We asked the  Camp Photographer to take a picture of us on the boards. We accidentally leaned too much on one side, and we fell in to the lake laughing. It was so much fun, and the funniest part is that she got a picture of us falling in!

10. What is ONE thing that you could not survive without at camp?

I could not survive without my flashlight, or my fan. Some of the nights it was SO hot in the cabin, and the fan was really useful. The flashlight was a must for flashlight time at night, where we could read, write letters, or make bracelets.

11. Do you have any advice for people who are thinking about going to a summer camp for the first time?

Sleep-away camp is a great experience. You have probably heard that a million times before, I certainly did. But it really is, and this is coming from a camper who went for the first time this year. You will make life long friends. One piece of advice that I have for people going to camp for the first time is to be yourself, because I guarantee that there will be someone there who will love you for who you are. That is what camp is all about. You don’t always need to be friends with people who you have everything in common with. My best camp friend, Reegan loves Dance, and I HATE it, but we are still good friends!

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Counselor Files: Sam Nisbett

In the latest addition of Counselor Files, we hear from Sam Nisbett who worked at Camp Homeward Bound, located in New York. Camp Homeward Bound is the USA’s first summer sleep-away camp designed specifically for homeless kids. In Sam’s own words:

‘ I worked at camp Homeward Bound during the summer of 2012, and I have been trying to make my way back ever since!’.

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1. What is/was your role at camp?

I was a General Counselor at camp. This means I was responsible for a group of kids from breakfast until bed, and it was my role to take them to all their scheduled activities on camp.

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The staff. The bonds that you make working those long August days, and the laughs that you have, are what make your summer. You meet people from all over the world and become friends for life by the end. You soon also realise that you now have lots of free accommodation, and tour guides, when travelling around the country/world after Camp!

3. What is your LEAST favourite thing about working at a summer camp?

Counselor Catwalk. This is a night at my Camp where the younger campers from the girls’ tents pick male Counselors to dress up as females and walk down a catwalk (and vice versa with boys’ tents picking female Counselors to dress as boys). So that means a full face of makeup, dress, shoes; the lot! It took me a while to live that one down with the boys in my tent.

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4. What were you most nervous about when you started working at a summer camp?

I was only 19 years old when I went to camp. I wasn’t sure how confident I would be taking care of 10 campers on my own, when I could only just manage take care of myself at University! But the reality is that you’re definitely not on your own. At my camp for example, you have a Co-Counselor who basically becomes your brother/sister for the summer. The staff you work with soon become your extended family, and any feelings of being homesick or on your own quickly disappear.

5. Which is your favourite age group to have in your cabin?

Campers aged 9-12. The boys aren’t too bothered about girls or being cool at this age yet, and are more concerned with who’s having the most fun! Plus the kids are some of the most vibrant and exciting kids you’ll ever meet, who will definitely reduce you to tears when they have to leave on the last day of Camp.

6. How do you decorate your bunk?

I just had a few photos of family. However, I often couldn’t see my bunk at the end of each day my cabin often inadvertently decorated my bed with their dirty clothes…

7. What is your favourite evening activity at camp?15046342_10154505398331265_1855687194_n

Carnival. On one of the last days at Camp, there’s a huge Carnival extravaganza with giant water slides, bucking broncos, dunk tanks, inflatable joust arenas, snow cones, cotton candy… the whole works! The highlight  of the evening was definitely the Director of the Camp sneakily running around covering all Counselors head-to-toe in mud, just like she was a teenager again!

8. What is your favourite camp memory?

The Talent Show. Sometimes the hours are tough taking care of a group of teenagers, but the Talent Show gave me the chance to realise just how talented the campers really are. There was a camper in my tent who was really quiet at the beginning of camp, but by the end he had the confidence to stand up and perform to the whole camp. For me, that made all those long hours worth it.

9. If you were a camper, which activity on camp would you LOVE to try?

Anything to do with 15102266_10154505398326265_1356463829_o.jpgwater; swimming, boating, water sports. Camps are usually set on a picturesque lake somewhere, and the views are absolutely incredible at the Waterfront. My camp is for underprivileged kids from inner city New York, and some of them have never even been in water before Camp! To see the smiles on their faces when they get in the lake is just the best.

10. If you could give ONE piece of advice to people thinking of applying to work at camp in 2017, what would that be?

Apply and apply now! There is no better time to have your best summer yet than now, before real life and jobs get in the way. Get paid to work in the sunshine all day, make friends for life and travel the States. What better excuse could you need to do it?

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Q&A – USA Summer Camp.

This week sees ‘How to Survive Summer Camp’s’ FIRST ever collaboration with summer
camp agency, USA Summer Camp. Personally, I think it might be up there with collabs such as Rihanna ft. Jay-Z’s ‘Umberella’ and Dizzee Rascal ft. Calvin’s ‘Dance Wiv Me’ (what a BANGER!). High expectations for the rest of the post, I know.

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Although I recently began a summer camp blog, and have been going to camp for a couple of years now, I hadn’t really ever heard much about USA Summer Camp – or know of anyone who had been to camp with them before. When I was contacted by Becky, asking if I wanted to work together on a blog post, I jumped at the opportunity to find out more about them and what they had to say about camp. *

*Confession time, I have been SO busy recently that I haven’t had the time yet to complete my Summer Camp 2017 returner application yet – so my business is currently still up for grabs too!

Here’s what Becky had to say…

‘The company began in 2007 after one of our directors went to summer camp in America through a different agency for many years, and thought the application process could be drastically improved with more customer experience and a tailored recruitment process to match applicants with the perfect camps for them. The company formed in 2007, where we saw 65 participants go to camp. We now work with over 500+ camps across America, and have 3 regional offices in the UK – North in Newcastle, Central in Birmingham and South in Reading, and an office in Dublin Ireland, so that we can really offer a hands on and personal experience for all of our applicants, and we sent over 1,000 participants in 2014 – this number has grown and grown since then. Each of our staff members have been to camp themselves, so no matter who you speak to on the phone they are fully equipped to tell you the perfect advice on how to spend your summer at camp and has lots of great travel tips too based on their own experiences’.

1. There are a lot of summer camp agencies and I am unsure who I apply through as I am new to the summer camp game! Why should I choose USA Summer Camp?

Here at USA Summer Camp we truly pride ourselves on our customer services. With 21 office staff and 2 directors who have all been to camp, summer camp and the incredible experience you get from spending a summer in the States is at the heart of what we do, and everyone who picks up the phone, answers an email or replies to a tweet is genuinely so passionate about the camp experience and sharing that experience with others. We also have 80 National Support Team members all over the UK who have also been to camp, helping us interview and prep our participants for the best summer of their lives.

2. Are there any extra perks to choosing USA Summer Camp?

The extra perks to choosing 7USA Summer Camp are not only that we strive to match our participants with the perfect placement for them, and we offer 2 different payment options – with flight, or without flight, to help tailor to your needs. We also offer a direct debit payment option to pay your fees in manageable chunks – we will do whatever we can to make the process as seamless as possible for you. We have a range of exciting merchandise and run lots of different social media competitions for free t-shirts and other fun goodies! With our regional offices, we also offer more one on one time with our participants, guiding you through every step of the way.

3. What kind of people do you think are well suited to work at a summer camp?

We personally think that anyone who spends a summer at camp in America will come home having had the best 9-10 weeks of their lives, but summer camp is all about having fun, and most importantly, helping your children have fun. Whether you work at a day camp, a special needs camp, a sleepover camp or an underprivileged camp, the well-being and happiness of your campers is at the centre of everything we do, which means those who are naturally up for fun, excitement and jumping head-first into anything that’s thrown their way will truly love the camp experience. With opportunities to meet people from all over the world, camp is a family experience, and even the most nervous of counselors or those who are a little shy will be leading the chants in the dining hall by the end! Even if you’re not the most outgoing person or aren’t particularly confident, there will be a place for you with open arms at camp – and that’s why we would recommend the experience to absolutely anyone.

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4. It is essential that I have experience working with children to apply to work at a summer camp?

Having some experience with children is necessary – but this need not be as official and professional as you might think. Babysitting or spending time with younger cousins and siblings, helping with homework or enjoying fun days out with them all counts hugely on your application. You might not think that babysitting is experience with children – but trust us, it’s the perfect experience for camp! Be honest and don’t sell yourself short – if you’ve enjoyed time helping or working with children then let us know on your application.

5. If I am returning to camp, what are you able to offer me that will make me want to choose to return with you?

If you’re returning to camp with us then2.jpg
you’ll have reduced fees, you’ll be negotiating your salary with your camp directly and we’ll be here to guide you every step of the way. You’ll also have the opportunity to apply to be on our National Support Team, where you’ll be able to work part time for USA Summer Camp in your University or local area, helping us prep our participants for their summer at camp, drumming up interest on social media and being ambassadors for USA Summer Camp and the camp experience – you’ll basically be paid to talk about camp day in and day out, now what could be better than that?

6. How long does the whole application process to work at a summer camp take?

The application process can be as quick as you like it to be – we are happy to work to your needs. Once you’ve applied, we’ll give you a call the next working day and set up our initial phone interview. Once you’ve been accepted and paid your deposit, a member of our National Support Team will be in touch within 24 hours and then the quicker you complete your profile, the quicker your profile will be set to ‘Ready to Hire’ and all of our Camp Directors can start looking at your profile! We have a team in America who work tirelessly to match applicants with the perfect camps for them in the States, but we also have a series of Placement Fairs around the UK where you can meet our Camp Directors face to face and get hired on the spot. The earlier you sign up, the better chance you have of getting placed and the more time we have to match you with the perfect camp to secure the best summer ever.

7. Do you have any top tips for making my application stand out from the crowd and get me hired?

Top tips would include having a nice, smiley and professional profile picture – the picture is the first opportunity our Camp Directors get to assess you, so save the pouting and selfie style images for your Instagram and be sure you dazzle them with your smile! Really sell all of your opportunities, make sure you’re confident and discuss your skills at length. Do a showcase video – a video is such an excellent way to convey your personality – and it’s a great way for Camp Directors to get a feel of your personality before they get a chance to chat to you for an interview. This doesn’t need to be professional, but be sure to show who you are and what you’re passionate about – it makes all the difference, trust us! Try and be prompt when replying to Camp Directors – we appreciate the time difference, but showing you’re ready to commit and are dedicated will make you look even better.

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8. What is the most successful way of getting hired? Would you recommend that I attend a recruitment fair/event?

The most successful way of being hired is having a complete profile, meeting all of your deadlines and showing off your skills or personality in a showcase video. We would always recommend our participants to attend a recruitment fair because it’s one of the only chances to meet a Director face to face and wow them with your personality – but also, you’ll have all of our staff on hand at the day to give you advice and personally match you with the right camps for your skills on the spot!

9. How would you support me through the application process, and when I get to camp?5.jpg

Each of our regional offices is accessible by phone during working hours, by email and by
social media – which means we’re never difficult to get hold of. We also create unique and fun blog posts and have a website FULL of content to help get you prepared and ready for your summer at camp – this is updated weekly, so our website really acts as a guide to summer camp for you. As well as this, you’ll be receiving lots of calls from our friendly team every step of the way, and as much hands on support as you need. We have a 24/7 emergency line for when you’re in the States, and a team of USA Summer Camp staff in America ready and waiting to answer any question you have – no matter how big or small!

10. What are THREE things you wouldn’t be able to survive with at camp?

The three things we wouldn’t be able to survive without camp with are:

  1. Cadbury Chocolate – starting with the most important thing! Hershey’s chocolate is terrible – we always make sure to pack tons of Cadbury’s in the suitcase to keep our energy levels up, our homesickness at bay, and yummy chocolate also doubles up as a bribe for keeping your campers quiet! Plus, after running around all day after little ones you need a treat every now and then.
  2. A smartphone/digital camera. We can’t express enough how quickly those 9/10 weeks at camp go, so get snap happy and lap up every possible second of your summer. We offer 30+ days travel on the VISA after camp, so you’ll want to document your amazing travels with your new best friends too!
  3. Crocs! We never thought we would ever say this before camp, but Crocs are the bomb. They’re comfortable, practical, you can get them wet, you can pack them easy and you can wear them pretty much anywhere. We wouldn’t be seen dead in them in the UK, but at camp they’re a total must-have item.

11. Do you have ONE piece of essential advice for people thinking of applying to work at a summer camp in summer 2017?

The one piece of advice we would have is to just go for it. If you think camp sounds like fun, if you’d like an adventure for your summer, if you fancy a last hurrah before a full time job, if you’d love to explore your favourite hobby or activity more – go for it. Camp is the best day of your life on repeat for 9 weeks, and you’ll never really understand why camp-goers say they’re living 10 for 2 until you’ve been. Your camp friends become your family forever, you’ll have friends to visit with free places to stay all over the world and you’ll get to know yourself inside out like never before.

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WOW!!!!!! There were so many things that I LOVED and didn’t know about USA Summer Camp, but my top three are:

  1. That ALL of their staff have worked at a summer camp! I think this is fantastic, as they know EXACTLY what you are going through, and how best to support you through the process. There is nothing worse than calling your agency to find out how many pairs of socks to pack, and the agent on the end of the phone having never experienced such a crisis!
  2. You can pay your fee’s in manageable chunks by Direct Debit. I have been with a couple of different agencies and I have never seen this option before! Normally agencies ask for payment in lump sums (and often around Christmas time before fee’s increase), so I think that it is FAB that USA Summer Camp offer this option.
  3. That Crocs are an essential item they could not live without. Keep calm and wear Crocs, my friends.

If you are wanting to know more, or want to apply through USA Summer Camp for summer 2017, you can access their website HERE!

You can also find them on:

Twitter: @USASummerCamp

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/usasummercamp/?fref=ts

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/usasummercamp/

 

 

November 15th, 2016

WOW, my first EVER journal post on the blog!! First of all I would like to say a huge, happy, international CAMP T-SHIRT DAY to all my fellow camp lovers! Below are my camp t-shirt day posts from 2015 and 2016, follow me on Twitter @how2survivecamp for t-shirt posts and much more!

But now, let the real journal commence! I wanted to keep you all up to date on what camp-related things are happening in my life, starting with my FIRST EVER trip to camp in the fall!

I flew with Aer Lingus from Manchester, to Hartford (Connecticut), via Dublin. This was the first time I have ever flown with Aer Lingus (and my first ever time on Irish soil!), as the route to Hartford is relatively new, and the whole trip was SO easy! The staff were great, and I love that you can complete all the U.S. Immigration checks at Dublin airport, as this saves SO much time when you land in America. They also had a great selection of films on the plane, including Finding Dory (my fave!!).

Before now, I have only ever known camp in the summer; long sunny days, tall green trees and warm lake water. But arriving at camp in November, it looked just as beautiful and inviting as ever. The majority of the leaves had already fallen from the trees, but the few that hung on in there were a huge variety of fantastic Autumn colours! But it was oh SO quiet without the campers around!

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The biggest shock of all was the weather! The sun continued to shine as if it were the middle of the summer, and it was SO nice to see some sunshine after a few weeks of miserable weather back home.

The main reason for the trip was to visit my boyfriend, Ben, and his family. I also had the chance to catch up with other staff whilst I was there, and it was a perfect way to spend a long weekend. Apart from exploring camp, other activities involved eating pizza (and LOTS of it!), seeing the sights of Goshen, CT, in the Fall, and the obligatory trip to Walmart and Goodwill! After a fab few days, which flew by SO fast, it was time to return home and get straight back into work (*sobs*).

I’m going to finish off my first journal post with a favourite quote from the week:

‘Make your life a story worth telling’.

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My next few journal posts will document my personal application process ready for summer 2017! Keep your eyes peeled for more…

 

Counselor Files: Katie Hill

 

Katie lives in Edinburgh and is currently studying International Relations at the University of St. Andrews. She has just spent her first summer in the U.S. as a Counselor, after previously spending time at camp as a camper, and shares her experiences in the latest Counselor Files post.

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Katie cheering on her tribe at a swim meet. Go Arapahos!!!

1. Which camp do you/did you work at, and where is it located?

I worked at Camp Chinqueka, in Conneticut.

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2. How long have you worked there?

This was my first year at camp.

3. What is/was your role at camp?

I was the Drama Counselor, and I was also one of two Cabin 2 Counselors (shout out to my Co-Counselor Claire <3).

4. Why did you decide to work at a summer camp?

When I was 15, I travelled to the USA and was a camper myself at a camp in New Hampshire. I had the BEST summer ever, and I have always wanted to work at a similar camp since then. Every year I had something preventing me from going, but this year I finally had the opportunity to go and finally work at a summer camp.

5. Which agency did you apply through, and would you recommend them to a friend?

I applied through Camp Leaders. I thought they were great and really helpful, and they even came to visit me at Chinqueka! The only thing was the fair wasn’t great in my area (Edinburgh, Scotland). Many of camps in attendance at the fair didn’t accept applicants under the age of 21, and I left disappointed after much anticipation. I know the majority of staff at Chinqueka got hired at fairs this year, so I was really lucky to be found online!

6. What is the best thing about being a Camp Counselor?

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Being in an environment where you can just be yourself is literally the best thing ever. I loved the evening activities where we got to wear crazy costumes and play funny games with the campers. For example, we played a game called Mango Madness where the aim of the game for the campers is to complete puzzles to get the characters (staff) in to the lake. I dressed up as Dorothy, and two of my C0-Counselors were the Tin Man and the Scarecrow. We made the Campers sing The Wizard of Oz songs non-stop, and put out yellow bricks for us to stand on all the way around camp until we got to the lake! It was so rewarding to see how much fun they were having!

7. What is the worst thing about being a Camp Counselor?

All the goodbyes! After creating such a huge summer family, saying goodbye to everyone is super hard. Every two weeks would see another session of campers, that you had made incredible bonds with, finish their time at camp (tissues were a necessity on changeover days!).

8. What is your favourite camp memory?

As the Drama Counselor, I directed the end of summer musical. The whole process was really fun, but afterwards the kids were SO happy about what they had. Knowing that I’d help put that smile on their face and the sense of pride they felt, that really made my summer. It’s the best feeling ever!

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Katie and the cast of ‘The Jungle Book’.

9. What are three items that you could not live without at camp?

  • A book (my kids went to sleep at 9.30pm!)
  • BUG SPRAY
  • A shower caddy (to hold all my shower essentials as the showers were a short walk away from the cabins).

10. Do you have any advice for people applying to work at a summer camp?

Just be yourself during the application process, don’t be afraid to be enthusiastic to the point that you feel like it’s too far (it’s not like a normal job!). Oh, and apply to do something you really love! If you’re an activity Counselor, you spend the majority of your summer doing it, so you don’t want to make the wrong choice!

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My Experience with Wildpacks

In my eyes, Wildpacks are up there with the likes of Match.com, PoF (Plenty of Fish) and Tinder. I created a profile, I looked what was on offer, I liked what I saw and I swiped right (JOKES, but you get my drift). Wildpacks were the first agency that I EVER went to camp with, and thanks to them, I now have a summer home, a whole bunch of new friends, and a boyfriend. So yes, Wildpacks pretty much changed my life.

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I had originally heard about summer camps in the USA from friends at University who had spent summers there. Browsing (‘stalking’ might be a better term) through their Facebook photos made me more and more determined to go and find out for myself EXACTLY what they meant when they were laughing about things that only camp people would understand in a 9am lecture.

After doing some online research, I stumbled across the Wildpacks website. Their website was super easy to use, and very informative for a complete beginner like myself. The deciding factor for me was the price, as Wildpacks offered one of the cheapest programme fees in the industry, in return for support, accommodation, food, medical insurance, a visa and importantly, a good rate of pay.

I completed the online application form, which wanted to know things such as:

Basic Information (the easy part!)

  • Name.
  • DOB.
  • Address.
  • Contact details (email, telephone).
  • Social media info (Facebook, Skype).
  • Dates you are available.
  • How you heard about Wildpacks

Activities

This part requires you to simply check boxes to indicate what activities you have interest/experience in.  Remember point two of my previous blog How To… A Guide to Completing a Summer Camp Application… DON’T LIE! There would be absolutely no point in me ticking ‘Boat Driving’ for example, when I can barely drive my car.

The form covers a HUGE variety of activities such as :

  • Waterfront
  • Outdoor Adventure
  • Visual Arts
  • Performing Arts
  • Sports
  • Media Arts
  • Fitness
  • Equestrian
  • Miscellaneous
  • Behind the Scenes.

Talents and Certificates.

This part requires a little bit more time and detail!! Stick with it, its TOTALLY worth it!

  • Describing your experience of THREE activity areas in detail.
  • Outlining previous experience with children (anything from volunteering at your local Brownie group to babysitting for younger siblings).
  • Your best joke.
  • Any relevant certificates/qualifications.

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After I submitted my application, on December 16th, 2014, I quickly heard from Wildpacks to say my application had been accepted, and they were now looking for some more information:

Aptitude Questions.

Questions just to check you are a suitable candidate to be a Camp Counselor. Again, Wildpacks provide example answers to get you on the right track! These questions included:

  • Three things that you think a Camp Counselor should be aware of on a daily basis.
  • Three things that you feel are inappropriate conversation topics to have around or with your campers and why.
  • What is your primary drive to work at a summer camp?
  • Why we would be nuts not to accept you as a summer camp staff member.

Photos

Four photos showing off  your skills, personality and experience of working with children. Again back to the How To… A Guide to Completing a Summer Camp Application post, you don’t want potential Camp Directors to see photos of shotting tequila in your local Wetherspoons, so make sure the photos are relevant!

Medical Background

Basic questions about your health, medication and allergies.

General Information 

This section includes whether or not you are a student, whether you are in employment, and whether you would like to work at a faith/special needs camp.

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PHEW! Application submitted and deposit paid, it was time to relax and wait for Wildpacks to work their magic! They were great at staying in contact, and quickly invited me to attend one of their ‘online camp fairs’ that they were hosting one evening (find more about how online camp fairs work HERE!). Wildpacks allowed those who had already been accepted onto their programme to view at what roles were available at a range of different camps, and chat with potential Camp Directors, via Skype. The online fair was a great option for me, as university/work/life commitments meant that I was unable to attend an actual recruitment fair hosted midweek.

And this is how I got placed.

I had a Skype interview with a Camp Director where I was asked questions such as why I wanted to work at camp, to being asked to sing a song. FYI I sang (if thats what you would call it) ‘The Crazy Moose’ – a well known campfire song! The Camp Director offered me a position (although strangely enough, not as the Music Counselor), updated Wildpacks, and shortly afterwards I received an email with my camp contract. Summer 2015 suddenly became a VERY exciting prospect!

So, there you have it. My journey with Wildpacks. It was a simple, effortless process and I felt completely supported throughout. They were in constant communication via email, and the odd few times that I needed to contact them, their staff members were more than happy to help. This year, I wore my Wildpacks t-shirt with pride, and I am always more than happy to recommend them as a company to other potential Camp Counselors!wildpacks-logo

Thanks, Wildpacks! xo